Amazon Kindle Oasis review: In a class of its own

first_imgBy now it is a truth universally acknowledged that Amazon’s Kindle virtually created the e-book market. It is a device similar to the iPod, which changed the way we used to listen to songs, or the Xbox and the PlayStation that transformed the video game market. It is just that unlike any other device in the market, the Kindle also thoroughly, absolutely, towers over its competitors.If you want an e-reader, the question is not “which”. The question is, “which Kindle”?Amazon has tried to provide an answer by releasing several types of Kindles over the years. It has offered the Basic Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite and then last year, the Kindle Voyager. This year, the company is adding another kindle to the line up — Kindle Oasis. The Oasis is the most expensive Kindle Amazon has made so far. It is also a completely redesigned Kindle. It sits above the Voyager, which for an e-book reader was a bit more expensive than what we call value for money. The Oasis is even more expensive. But for a moment let’s forget about the price. The Oasis is one such device that is unadulterated joy. It is the next best thing to an actual book for a book lover. It is thoroughly modern, exquisitely designed, thoughtfully built, incredibly functional and totally phenomenal. Phew! The Oasis deserves all this praise but yet I feel it may not be the right Kindle for most people.Design and build quality To understand the Kindle Oasis, Amazon says you have to understand its purpose. The mission is described by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “We want Kindle to disappear, and Kindle Oasis is the next big step in that mission,” he says. advertisementNo, Amazon doesn’t want to kill Kindle. It just wants it to be so insignificant that even though a user is reading a book, he forgets that he is holding the Kindle. And to make the Oasis physically as inconspicuous, Amazon has redesigned it. The device still sports the six inch screen but the overall bulk has been trimmed significantly and dimensions have been shrunk. The Kindle Oasis is barely bigger than a phone like the BlackBerry Passport. It is incredibly sleek (the thinnest point is less than 3.5mm thick) and it weighs little over than 130 grams, which is lighter than most 5-inch phones. It is surreally light, something that befuddles your brain as soon as you pick it up. How can this be so light? But to ensure a good grip despite the slim profile, Amazon has moved the components inside the Oasis to the right side, which is the dominant hand for most people. This weight redistribution, and the slightly chunkier right portion makes for a fantastic grip when you are holding the Oasis. It is easy to read something on it for hours and not feel any strain on finger or wrist. Or eyes (but more about it later). The Kindle Oasis is barely bigger than a phone like the BlackBerry Passport. It is incredibly sleek and it weighs little over than 130 grams, which is lighter than most 5-inch phones Considering the Oasis is so light that it is easy to use it while holding it in one hand, Amazon has also brought back two physical buttons on the right side. These can be used as navigation buttons as well as to flip the page, although if you prefer the touchscreen to navigate, you also have that option. The build quality of the Oasis is fantastic. The plastic that it has is of good quality. It has matte finish, but without the rubbery coating that you get on Kindle Paperwhite, and it feels soft to touch. But to make it slightly more durable, Amazon has also added a metal frame under all the plastic in the Oasis (see our gallery for details). Then there is the new kind of screen. Unlike the earlier Kindle screens, which were rigid, the screen used in the Oasis has some flex to it (details in gallery), which makes it less susceptible to cracks in case of accidental fall. While Amazon offers covers for all Kindles that it sells for a price, the Oasis is the first one that has a cover bundled with it. Made of exquisite leather, this cover has a battery case attached to it. The cover attaches to the Oasis using magnets and pins. It can open and wake the device as well as charge it. The cover also adds some weight to the device. Although I find that the Oasis feels better in hands without the cover, if you are someone who finds it too light, the cover will help you. With cover attached, the Oasis weighs around 240 grams.advertisementPerformance and featuresIn a Kindle, the most important part is the screen. Amazon says that it has added extra LEDs to make the backlight more even on the Oasis. The screen, although brighter than the earlier Kindle screens, has the same 300PPI display. It is easy to see that the Oasis screen is better than any other display we have seen in a Kindle device so far. But the fact is that you are not going to notice it much, or even appreciate it because the screens in other Kindles, including the Paperwhite, are good enough. The e-ink screens in this way behave differently compared to the LCD screens that we get in phones. Even minor improvements in phone screens are noticeable. Here, not so much although the Oasis screens excels during the use. Whether you are outdoors or reading in a dark room, the text is sharp and there is no glare. One area where the improvement is more noticeable is the performance. The way the content refreshes on the screen and the way pages flip is slightly faster on the Oasis. The Oasis also comes with the new software — although, the same software is also available for other Kindles through an update — which re-arranges the screen in a more tasteful way. In the new layout, it is easier to discover the content. Features like X-ray, dictionary, whisper sync are supported and work well. In terms of features and software functionality, the Oasis doesn’t break any new ground. Yes, it can now rotate the screen — similar to phones — if you flip it, but it still offers the same functionality that you will get from any other latest Kindle. Though much of it is also deliberate. A lot of people will like to see more communication tools or features added to the Kindle, but Amazon believes that it needs to keep the device simple and focussed. “We want people to lose themselves into the act of reading. The Kindle Oasis is great but you don’t need it, unless you absolutely want the best, irrespective of the cost. For most people, the Kindle Paperwhite does the job fine We don’t want them to get a notification saying they have an email while they are reading their favourite book,” says an Amazon executive. “We deliberately named it Oasis because we want it to be one place where you are away from all the distraction.” In a way this is all correct and also the reason why Kindle Oasis is such an amazing device. Yet, there are areas where the Amazon could have improved the device. For example managing highlights or notes is still a sort of chore on the Kindle. In user experience, the improvements that the Oasis offers are due to its hardware. The new design is superior to the older one. Another highlight of the device is its battery life. Kindle always had a great battery life. But with software improvements, such as a new deep-sleep mode, the standby battery life of the Kindle Oasis runs into months when it is kept attached to its cover, which — as noted earlier — also has a battery inside. Meanwhile, the active use, when the Oasis is attached to the cover, is in weeks, which too is phenomenal. advertisementShould you buy itPossibly no. The Kindle Oasis is great but you don’t need it, unless you absolutely want the best, irrespective of the cost. For most people, the Kindle Paperwhite does the job fine even if it costs half of what the Oasis does. The starting price for the Oasis is Rs 23,999! Although, if you are eying the Voyager, the Oasis becomes a better deal because it comes with a leather cover, which in the case of Voyager would cost you another several thousand rupees. Also Read: Kindle Voyager review: Best ebook reader but not a recommended buyAt this price, it is just too expensive. With that said, if you are after the best Kindle experience and would gladly pay to the high price for it, the Oasis is what you need. You won’t be disappointed with it.####Kindle Oasis####8.5/10########Good stuffFantastic designGreat battery lifePremium leather cover####Bad stuffVery high priceIncremental hardware improvementsSome software limitationslast_img read more