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Kindle Oasis review: Amazon's newest e-reader is nearly perfect

Séamus Bellamy | Aug. 15, 2016
The Oasis makes reading a pleasure, but its free 3G only works inside the United States.

A typical iPhone or iPad is capable of doing damn near anything you need it to—so long as you don’t need to do it in direct sunlight. And while those devices certainly become more energy efficient over the years, heavy users like me still find it difficult to get through a full day without having to top of their tablet or smartphone battery at least once.

That’s why I usually travel with an e-reader. Their matte e-ink displays are easy to read in direct sunlight, making them a great choice for the beach or to pass the time waiting for a train. Better still, they absolutely sip power. I’ve gone weeks between recharging a Kindle or Kobo e-ink slab, despite using them for hours at a time. Try that with an iPhone. So, when I was extended the invitation to take Amazon’s latest Kindle, the Oasis, for a spin, I jumped at the opportunity.

Let’s get this out of the way: The Oasis ain’t cheap. It starts at $290. The version I tested, which comes with a built-in 3G connection for downloading books on the go and without any irritating Amazon advertising, sells for $380. (You can grab it for $20 less “with special offers,” i.e. ads.) In a world where it’s possible to pick up a great little multi-function tablet like a 16GB iPad Mini 2 with Wi-Fi and cellular for just $19 more, convincing anyone that a one-trick pony like the Oasis is a smart buy is a tough sell.

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Séamus Bellamy

While Both the Oasis and the Paperwhite have identical display sizes, their overall footprints and weight are significantly different.

Designed for comfort

The first thing that long-time Kindle users will notice about the Oasis is its size. Measuring 5.6x4.8x0.3 inches and weighing a mere 4.7 ounces, the Oasis is, as Amazon is quick to proclaim, the thinnest, lightest Kindle that they’ve ever made—close to two ounces lighter than a 3G equipped Kindle Voyage and almost three ounces less than a current generation Kindle Paperwhite.

Like these chunkier cousins, the Oasis comes equipped with a 6-inch antiglare 300 ppi display. With the backlight turned off, I didn’t notice a difference between reading on my 2014 Paperwhite and the Oasis. But with the backlights turned up, it’s a very different story. The Oasis employs 10 LEDs to ensure even backlighting across its display, beating out the patchier light the Paperwhite’s four LEDs produce.

This isn’t to say that the Paperwhite is a horror to read on—I’ve been satisfied with mine for years. The Oasis’s display backlighting is simply better. Its light weight and superior backlighting come at a cost, however: The Oasis has a significantly shorter battery life than its recent predecessors. Where a Kindle Paperwhite could potentially go for months between charges, the Oasis’s internal battery can only manage about two weeks of use, depending on your reading habits.

 

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