Update: David Rothman likes the all-text bold on his new Oasis via Calibre. Why can’t he just switch it on? Len Edgerly’s review is below.

I’ve just spent a full day and night with a review unit of the Kindle Oasis. And I am even more delighted with the bold redesign from Amazon’s Lab 126 than I was when I briefly tried the Oasis three weeks ago at the unveiling in New York City.

That said, if you own a Paperwhite, the best-selling Kindle, and did not upgrade to the $200 Voyage, the price of moving to the new top of the line is very steep.

An Oasis with WiFi only and special offers costs $290—a whopping $170 more than the same-configuration Paperwhite (normally $120). As I write this, the Paperwhite is on sale for $100. So what could possibly justify the Oasis’s $290?

Well, one thing that won’t be worth the additional price is the improvement in screen readability. When I lined up a Paperwhite, a Voyage, and the Oasis side by side on my desk and turned off my desk lamp, the white background on a screen of Oasis text did look slightly whiter than that of the Voyage. It looked quite a bit whiter than the screen of the Paperwhite.

The reported resolution is the same on all three devices, 300 ppi. The built-in lighting on the Oasis features 10 LEDs compared with six for the Voyage and four for the Paperwhite. Maybe that’s why the white background looks better.

In any event, I am confident that most customers will find screen appearance is comparable across the top three Kindles.

What does perhaps justify the premium price for the Oasis is the feel of it.

Without its charging cover, the Oasis weighs two ounces less than the Voyage, which weighs two ounces less than the Paperwhite. That’s nice, but what’s even nicer is the distribution of that weight closer to your hand if you are holding it in one hand.

In addition, the fat side of the Oasis means there is a comfortable ridge for your fingers to snuggle against on the back side. I noticed that in particular last night when I was reading in bed.

And then there are the buttons. God bless these new next- and previous-page buttons on the Oasis. They are perfect. They are better than the page press feature of the Voyage. You can feel the Oasis buttons in the dark, so you don’t have to guess where to press for the next page, the way you do on the Voyage.

The action of the buttons is just right. Not too touchy, not too resistant.

It’s also brilliant that you can reprogram the page buttons, so the bottom one advances to the next page. That turns out to be the right configuration for my night reading, when I hold the Oasis at a different angle than while sitting.

I am sometimes too close to the Kindle to feel confident about my objectivity, so I depend on my wife, Darlene, for a reality check from time to time.

I took the Oasis into her quilting studio today and filmed her reaction. She loved it. “Ooh, I like this thing on the side,” she said, referring to the wide part of the Oasis. “Oh wow, that’s really nice.”

Is it worth $170 more than her Paperwhite?

“It depends on if you can afford it,” she replied. “It depends on how much you read. This is the first Kindle since the Paperwhite that I’ve been excited about. Before I ever touched it I knew I wanted it. It’s really great. I would recommend this to everybody. It’s just wonderful!”

I agree, with one caveat.

I am not completely sold on the dual-charging system of cover and Oasis. It seems confusing compared to the old days when you had a Kindle, you plugged it in when it needed charging, and you minded the battery icon to know when to charge it again.

With the Oasis, you charge the cover and the Kindle when you plug them in as a docked unit. But they each have separate battery-life indicators that you can see on the Kindle. I will get used to this, I’m sure.

What I would really like is for Amazon to sell the Oasis as a stand-alone Kindle without the charging case. Two weeks of battery life for reading is enough for my use—reading mainly in bed and on occasional trips to a coffee shop or the beach for reading outdoors. Without the cover, the price might be close to $200, which would be a sweet deal indeed.

If you can afford to splurge on an e-reader, I am confident that you won’t be disappointed in this sexy new Kindle. It’s a bold delight, a satisfying revival of everything you’ve learned to love about reading digitally.

Kindle Chronicles video URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqIVRukGHzI


  1. Len, I followed the chat on KBoards last night and then this morning watched your youtube video. Great job in showing the screens of the Paperwhite, Voyage and Oasis all in a row. Definitely the Oasis screen with its extra lights will provide a better reading experience. I think you showed everything that was necessary to understand the Oasis, including what happens when you change hands and the screen flips. I am disappointed that the case cannot be charged separately but it is what it is. You speculate that Amazon might sell the Oasis separately from its cover and that would certainly help those of us waiting for merlot. (Waiting for Godot?) Yesterday I had an aberrant few minutes where I considered getting one with a black cover from Best Buy, as an April 29th delivery would have been available. But I came to my senses before pulling the trigger for two reasons: I do not WANT the black cover, and family members have had difficulties dealing with Best Buy, so if something was wrong with the device, or I just plain didn’t like it, I’d be better off having bought it from Amazon. At this point I cannot even conceive of not liking the Oasis. And I currently have two merlot orders pending, one for July 13 with 3G and one for September 2 with wi-fi only. Several in the Kindle forum have had their delivery date moved up, so I am hopeful that one of the two will ship early, and I can cancel the other.

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