To say that Amazon’s Kindle Oasis is one of the nicest e-readers I’ve ever used would be to undersell it. Amazon are so good at building these devices by now that there’s almost no room in the market for anyone else. But, for good or ill, it’s also quite clear that Amazon have taken their e-reader to what may be its technical and logical conclusion. It’s light, its feature-rich, the battery remains ridiculously long, they’re still charging way too much for it and nothing about it has changed substantially in a few years now.
Let’s start with what I liked about the new Oasis. It’s still extremely light and well balanced, which means you can hold it up for very long periods while reading and not suffer aches, pains or strain in the wrist you get in a tablet. The backlight is very strong against the on-screen text making it very easy to read which is great for older users or those who struggle with poor eyesight. It’s also water resistant which means you live-on-the-edge daredevils that take your tech in the tub can rest easy knowing the Oasis will survive a drop in bath while reaching for your wine. Fair warning, my Kindle did act up a bit while it was wet. The screen stopped responding, it did this thing were it would resize the font seemingly at random, and this went on for a little while. Once it dried out, everything was fine and I was able to use the device again without interruption.
The battery is still capable of pumping out the same epic uptime as previous models thanks to the device’s lack of an LED or full video screen. Amazon states that they expect about six weeks of charge but the reality is more like two, less if you’re using any bluetooth connectivity. There’s plenty you can do with the device beyond simply reading books — the Oasis offers connectivity for Audible now too which means you can natively switch from reading to listening to a purchased book on a nearby bluetooth speaker with a single tap.
The price is going to be the device’s biggest stumbling block, especially for Australian customers. At $389 AUD for the 8GB model, it’s already within $60 of a low-end iPad. This is also what’s called the Special Offers model which means it’ll hit you with a front page full of ads for other books and products. It’s a bit ridiculous to me that Amazon are happy to ask for nearly $400 for a premium tier device and still hit you with ads but such is the nature of the beast I suppose.
For most, the lower tier Kindle Voyage is going to be more than enough e-reader for the money, and at $90 less than the Oasis. The Oasis is for the user who must have the absolute best and nicest possible device but I’m not really sure who that is besides people with an awful lot of money. Its sturdy build quality and smooth operation points directly to its lofty price tag but in terms of features, it feels as though the e-reader’s evolution has found its end point.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: Great look; Great feel; Great battery; Great screen
Lowlights: Exceedingly pricey
Price: $389 AUD
Review conducted using a loaned retail model provided by the publisher.