Following updates to its Paperwhite and entry-level Kindle models, Amazon has now revamped its flagship Oasis ebook reader which, as previously reported, gains the ability for users to adjust the warmth of the screen light.
The base model comes with 8GB of storage, enough to hold thousands of ebooks, and connects to Amazon’s bookstore via WiFi, but there’s also the option of a 32GB WiFi version – perfect for those who also want to play audiobooks from Amazon’s Audible service – as well as a 32GB model which includes built-in 4G connectivity to the Amazon store so you can buy and download books even when you’re out and about.
If you opt for the last of these models there’s no SIM card to activate or install meaning the 4G works out of the box and you can get reading straight away.
Prices start at £229, versus £119.99 for the Kindle Paperwhite and £69.99 for the 2019 Kindle.
As the updated Oasis offers all the same content and software features as its stablemates I’ll direct you to our Paperwhite review for a run down on those and focus here on the Oasis’ design and hardware features.
Whereas Amazon’s other Kindle models feature round cornered, rectangular and slightly rubberised plastic casings, the Oasis sports a more tablet-like aluminium housing which comes in a choice of graphite and gold finishes and gives the device a premium look and more robust feel.
The rear of the Oasis features an 8.4mm thick section which runs the whole length of the device, while the rest of the case measures just 3.4mm thick. The indented intersection between those two depths serves as a comfortable resting place for your fingers and with most of the 188 gram weight located in the thicker segment, the Oasis is perfectly balanced to rest comfortably in your hand without you having to grip hard.
Don’t worry if you’re left-handed or, like me, have to regularly switch hands for comfort as the Oasis is designed to be used in either hand and will auto rotate the screen to ensure the text is the right way up no matter which side the grip is on.
The asymmetric design carries over to the front where three sides of the 7” greyscale E-ink touch screen are surrounded by a reasonably thin bezel which then thickens significantly down the same side as the grip portion.
This larger bezel houses two physical page turn buttons arranged one above the other which can be configured to suit your preference of whether the top or bottom button moves forward through the book and which goes button backwards.
Pleasingly Amazon has taken the time to ensure that whatever preference you’ve set is retained even if you switch hands and the device is flipped, meaning whatever action you assign to the top button is always triggered by whichever button is currently on top and the same for the bottom.
Personally I’ve never minded using the touchscreen to navigate on my Paperwhite but it was nice to be able to flip pages without having to move my hand away from its resting position and the wider bezel down the grip side was welcome as it spared me any accidental page turns caused by my thumb brushing against the screen.
Like the Paperwhite, the Oasis’ screen sits flush within the housing which helps it achieve an IPX8 waterproof rating, making it suitable for reading in the bath or poolside.
However, unlike other Kindle models which have a 6” screen, the Oasis boasts a larger 7” panel. While this may not sound like much of a difference, in practice it translates to longer lines of text and more lines per page, meaning fewer page turns to break the flow of your reading.
And thanks to the screen’s 300 pixels per inch resolution, a feature the Oasis shares with the Paperwhite, text is rendered beautifully smooth and easy to read while book covers and images within graphic novels look sharp and clear.
Together this combination of resolution and screen size offer the best reading experience of any Kindle, but Amazon has gone further to deliver what I think is the best reading experience of any ebook reader currently on the market.
First off there’s the screen’s front light comprising of 25 separate LEDs which sit between the E-ink panel and the front glass and bask the text in a gloriously consistent level of light which lets you enjoy your book no matter the light levels around you.
As a regular Paperwhite user I thought its 5 LEDs provided the perfect level of coverage and illumination but I was seriously impressed at how consistent and equal the light levels on the Oasis are. If you’re likely to do a lot of reading in low light conditions you might want to visit a store which has both models on display so you can compare them and see which works best for your eyes.
In addition to the greater number of LEDs, the updated Oasis also offers a new ‘warm light’ feature which lets you change the light’s warmth from the default white to your preferred shade of amber.
I liked this addition a lot.
The lights in other models can be harsh in certain conditions and sometimes require users to compromise on the brightness level to avoid the light being too stark. Being able to set the brightness level and warmth independently of each other meant I was able to increase the brightness to a level necessary to read comfortably while avoiding tiring my eyes with light that was too white for my surroundings.
In addition to manually adjusting the brightness and tone levels it’s possible to have the Oasis automatically adjust them in line with sunset and sunrise, as well as to schedule a user defined warmth level at a specified time.
Using the auto levels requires that the device’s internet connection is active, something which will reduce battery life and given the manual settings are just one tap away on any screen I personally preferred to opt for manual adjustments.
While the auto adjustment didn’t really appeal to me, I would have liked Amazon to include the ability to set a couple of favourite presets – similar to the way users can create their own combination of typeface and font size – to allow easy toggling between commonly used combinations.
If this is something that could be added in a future software update I think it would enhance an already impressive and welcome new feature.
I really like the Kindle Oasis. Its new headline warm light feature gives users a whole new level of control over how they read and I loved the way the device fitted into my hand. I sometimes find it difficult to hold entirely flat devices one handed for prolonged periods but the asymmetric and ergonomic design of the Oasis meant I never once needed to use both hands.
By adding a screen light to the entry level Kindle Amazon blurred the lines between its own models, leaving me and many other reviewers to ponder why most users would pay out for the more expensive Paperwhite. But with the Oasis the firm has gone the other way and opened up a clear gap between its flagship offering and other models.
There’s no getting away from the fact it represents a significant investment and it’s not something I’d recommend for people new to ebooks who in my opinion would always be better starting off with an entry level model and then considering upgrading later on.
But for those who are already keen ebook readers and are looking for an upgrade from earlier Kindles, the Oasis provides an enjoyable, comfortable and highly customisable reading experience that justifies the asking price.
The new Kindle Oasis is available from Amazon.co.uk* and selected third party retailers.