Amazon’s Kindle Oasis is like a feast with the world’s finest caviar. It’s an all-you-can-eat Wagyu steak dinner. It’s an $80 cup of coffee. Simply put, the Oasis is a $290 extravagance meant only for the few who can afford it. For the rest of us, it’s just something to lust after. We called the $200 Kindle Voyage the “Rolls Royce of e-readers” two years ago, but instead of going cheaper (the standard Kindle is currently $60, and the backlit Paperwhite model is $100), Amazon pushed even further into luxury status. For $290 you get an e-reader so light it almost feels like you’re holding nothing at all. Unfortunately, Amazon still hasn’t made a strong argument for why anyone actually needs a high-end reading device.
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I’ve held plenty of e-readers, tablets, smartphones and other gadgets over the years, and few were as remarkable as the Oasis. When you look at it head-on, it’s unmistakably a Kindle, even though its 6-inch E Ink display is pushed to the side to make room for two physical page-changing buttons (answering the prayers of Engadget’s Chris Velazco). But tilt it slightly and you’ll notice that it’s, well … sort of funky. Most of the device is insanely thin — a mere 3.4 mm — while the rest is a slightly thicker hump meant for gripping one-handed.
Its asymmetric design looks weird at first, but it only takes a few seconds to get used to it. That’s mostly because it’s light — crazy light, at just 4.6 ounces. To compare, the Voyage weighs 6.3 ounces, and the Paperwhite clocks in at 7.2 ounces. Those don’t sound like huge differences, but they’re noticeable when you’re holding something for hours on end. The Voyage and the Paperwhite are close to the weight of a typical paperback. The Oasis, on the other hand, is so featherweight it almost feels alien as a reading device.
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Once again, Amazon used micro-etched glass for the Oasis’ screen, which should make it even more resistant to glare (it’s also stronger than the Voyage’s). The new model’s screen still packs in a sharp 300 pixels per inch, which looks about as good as printed text on paper. That’s the same resolution you get with the Voyage and the Paperwhite, though you do get 60 percent more LED lights here than on the Voyage. That’s nothing big, but it makes for a more uniform lighting presentation overall. I know plenty of Kindle fans who were irked by the Voyage’s slightly uneven lighting, which was particularly annoying given the price.
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There’s also a leather case included with the Oasis (available in black, walnut or merlot), which doubles as an extra battery pack to make up for the Kindle’s reduced battery size. (Amazon had to give something up to make the Oasis so thin, after all.) The case snaps right onto the angled portion of the Oasis’ back and adds another 3.8 ounces to the Kindle’s weight when connected. Thankfully, you can charge the Kindle and the case together.
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It’s no surprise that books and black-and-white comics look great on the Kindle Oasis: Amazon pretty much mastered that with the Voyage’s 300-ppi E Ink screen. For lack of a better word, there’s an “inkiness” to the display that makes text and line art appealing to your eyes. It’s completely different from a backlit smartphone or tablet, which can be just as sharp but can also feel like it’s attacking your eyes with light. Reading on the Kindle Oasis (along with the Voyage and the Paperwhite) is more like settling in with a book right next to a gentle lamp. There’s something soothing about it.
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The most noticeable improvement with the Kindle Oasis is the way it feels while you’re reading. Its lightweight, asymmetric design makes it ideal for holding with one hand and lounging on the couch or in bed. In my first few days with the Oasis, I easily dove into several titles that were gathering digital dust in my Kindle library.
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It may have just been the shininess of a new gadget compelling me, but I noticed that my reading sessions with the Oasis were much longer than with the Voyage.
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I was so enamored with the Oasis’ design that I used its included leather case only for traveling. It’s not exactly heavy when the case is connected — I had no problem keeping it on during crowded subway rides — but the Oasis feels so good on its own that there’s no reason to have any extra burden unless you really need it. The case itself feels like a high-quality piece of leather, and does a good job protecting the Kindle’s precious screen.
It’s also a great travel companion, since it has its own battery and extends the Oasis’s runtime to around eight weeks on standby.
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With the Kindle Paperwhite, which also packs in a sharp screen and backlight, available for $100, there’s simply no reason for most people to even consider the Oasis. It would have made more sense for Amazon to nix the Voyage and price the Oasis at $200 (or even slightly more). Asking $290 ($20 more than an iPad Mini 2) is simply madness.
Link to the rest at engadget
PG says serious readers spend many, many hours with their ereaders and may want the best reading experience possible.
During a typical waking day and evening, PG spends more minutes on his Kindle than he does on his tablet which cost more than the Kindle. During a typical week when he’s not on vacation, he spends more minutes with his Kindle than he does with his photographic equipment and related software, which cost way, way more than his current and past Kindles and all the remaining Kindles he will purchase during his lifetime.
If he were to calculate his cost per pleasure-hour, Kindles and ebooks would easily provide PG with the most pleasure for the least money of any leisure activity he can think of other than time he spends with his family.
Everyone has a quality vs. price tradeoff they mentally calculate for a wide variety of goods. PG suspects a reasonable number of readers are willing to pay $289 for the finest reading experience available. He also suspects Amazon will lower prices over time or roll Oasis features into lower-cost ereaders.