There are those who believe that books are words on paper. And those who believe that they are about words, and not what they are printed on. And the worlds of these two worthies inevitably collide every time Amazon releases a new edition of its iconic ebook reader, the Kindle. Are e-books as good as paper books? That is a debate for another day and time and story. But as of now, there is a new Kindle in town – the All-New Kindle Oasis, and while it does look a bit like its predecessor, there are changes aplenty above and below the hood. Just how well it performs will be revealed in our detailed review, but seven points about it struck us right away:
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In design terms, the new Kindle Oasis follows the same slightly square-ish design path that its predecessor took – instead of uniform bezels on all four sides, there are relatively slim bezels on three sides and one extremely wide and thick side, with two buttons on it for turning pages – by default the key above moves the book a page ahead and the one below takes you to the previous page, but these can be reversed. This wide side or ‘spine’ is basically meant for holding the Kindle one-handed – it is the thickest part of the Oasis at 8.3 mm, while the rest tapers off to an astonishing 3.4 mm. The display has an accelerometer, so the Kindle will reorient itself depending on which hand you hold it with. There is a micro USB port below this “spine”, and a power/display button above it (when you hold it right handed) – a change from the original Oasis, which had them next to each other.
2. …but bigger (kinda less handy, though)
And it might not seem apparent at first sight, but the new Kindle Oasis features the biggest display seen on a Kindle since the 9.7-inch one on the all-too-short-lived Kindle DX. Amazon’s e-book reader has generally stayed in 6.0-inch display territory, apart from that one sally. Well, with the new Oasis, it goes a bit further – an inch further to be exact. The new Kindle Oasis has a 7.0-inch display. And although it does not make it massive exactly, its width and height now make it difficult to pick up off a table with one hand or simply slip into your jacket, especially when you consider how SUPER COMPACT its predecessor was. It does feel very comfortable to use with one hand though, thanks to that spine. Does it look better than its predecessor? We are not too sure – a lot of us loved the jet black Oasis as compared to the more conventional silver grey of its slightly larger successor.
3. Faster…and with more storage
But with that greater size comes greater speed. Amazon is notorious for not giving out specs about the innards of its e-book devices, but the new Kindle Oasis is supposed to respond faster to your touch and yield faster page turns. And well, based on our brief acquaintance with it, it definitely does so. This is particularly important because one of the most frustrating parts of using a Kindle e-book reader is the typing experience, which can be a little slow for those accustomed to iPads and Android tablets. It seems faster, but these are early days. And yes, storage levels have increased too – in the past, Kindles used to come with 4 GB of onboard storage. The new Kindle Oasis comes with 8 GB, and its Wi-Fi + 3G avatar goes for a massive 32 GB. Does one NEED all that storage? Some would say no, given that all Kindle purchases are stored anyway in the cloud, but then others would say that one can never have too many gigs.
4. Brighter…and adaptively so too (psst…it can do black!)
One of the standard upgrades to Kindles over the years has been an improved display. And the 7.0-inch display on the new Oasis is no exception. The display seems brighter and at 300 ppi still has a high pixel density in spite of the increased display size. Of course, the Kindles are never backlit, so the strain on eyes is lesser. And as far as the display is concerned, the new Oasis seems to have taken a few pages out of the book of the Kindle Voyage. Like that Kindle, the new Oasis, like its predecessor too has a display that is flush with the bezels (and not recessed) and more importantly, there is now adaptive lighting, which means the brightness will adjust itself to the lighting conditions in which you are reading. And you can even swap backgrounds from white to black if you are reading in the dark and do not want to disturb others.
5. Stronger (and waterproof)
We said that the new Kindle Oasis felt good and one of the reasons for this is the fact that it is actually the first Kindle in a while to have gone all metal. The back is anodized aluminum and makes the new Oasis feel solid without adding too much to its actual weight – at 194 grams, it is lighter than the Paperwhite, which was 217 grams. And for those who like to read in the water (why! But that is another story), there is good news – the new Kindle Oasis is also the first Kindle to be waterproof. An IPX8 rating means it can survive a dunking in up to two meters of fresh water for about an hour. We have never seen anyone reading in the rain or a swimming pool, but if you want to start, this is the device to do it on!
6. No battery case
Perhaps the biggest change from the previous generation Oasis, however, is the removal of battery case/cover that came bundled with it and could be snapped on to it. The new Oasis has no connectors on its side for a battery case, and we are told that it will deliver up weeks of reading on a single charge – the official figure is up to six weeks of reading if WiF-Fi and 3G are switched off and brightness is kept at 10. That is about 21 hours – we would say heavy readers should be ready to charge about once in 10 days. Which is not too bad at all. There is also support for faster charging – the Oasis can be fully charged in under three hours from a USB port, and in under two hours if one is ready to invest in an Amazon 5W charger (not in the box, alas). We must confess we miss the battery case, simply because it did give us a cover for both the device and the battery, but then if battery life is not affected, I guess not too many will mind. The shape of the device, however, does mean that it will mean special cases.
7. And a lower price too
The original Oasis had ruffled some feathers with its price tag that started at Rs 23,999. The new one comes at a surprisingly lower price, starting at Rs 21,999 for the Wi-Fi edition (the Wi-Fi and 3G edition costs Rs 27,999). It is still well above the Voyage which stands at Rs 14,999 and the Paperwhite (Rs 10,999), but when you consider that it comes with a larger display and double the storage of its predecessor, that price tag is a very pleasant surprise. Yes, there is no bundled battery case this time (as there was with the original Oasis) but the spec and design improvements are significant.
How well does all this add up in terms of real-world usage and performance? Stay tuned for our detailed review.