Editor’s note: Amazon has released a newer version of the Kindle Oasis in 2017. It improves upon the model reviewed here, namely adding water resistance. Read our Amazon Kindle Oasis (2017) review here.
It’s hard for any self-respecting bookworm to give up paperbacks, but once you find a good ebook reader, it gets a little easier. Amazon has consistently made the best ebook readers on the market, but with the Kindle Oasis, it’s finally made the perfect one.
The Oasis is absurdly thin, lightweight, and daring with its innovative new design. It’s got nifty page turning buttons, an accelerometer to make reading easier for lefties, and its own battery case. Amazon’s extensive catalog of ebooks is right at your fingertips on the Oasis, and its interface is very easy to use.
There’s just one expensive problem: It costs $290. We went on a binge reading session to test out the Oasis and determine if it’s really worth all that money.
Radical design pays off
Most ebook readers look identical when you line them up. They’re all slightly chunky, rectangular devices with black and white E Ink screens and wide bezels. It’s not the most modern or attractive look, especially when you compare them to the svelte, shimmering smartphones that have launched in 2016. Amazon’s Kindle Oasis looks entirely different from every other ebook reader before it. The new design is modern and extremely well thought out.
The same 6-inch, 300-pixel-per-inch, E Ink display that graced the 2015 Kindle Paperwhite and Voyage sits on the front of the Oasis, but the bezels around three quarters of the screen are significantly slimmer, making the device more square in shape. The fourth bezel is double the width of the others, and that’s where you’ll find the two slim page turning buttons. This is also the thickest part of the device at 8.5mm.
At its slimmest point, the Oasis measures a mere 3.4mm, which is less than half the width of an iPhone 6S. It’s almost disconcerting when you first hold it by that razor thin edge, but you’re not supposed to hold that part. Your hand goes where the ebook reader is at its thickest.
The edge where the Oasis goes from 3.4mm to 8.5mm is perfectly angled, so that your fingers naturally grip it. Since it weighs a mere 131 grams without its case, you can easily hold it one handed and use the page turning buttons to read on happily. It feels balanced and natural in your hands just like a real book.
If you’ve been using a Kindle or any other tablet for reading up until this point, the Oasis’ radical design will seem weird and even uncomfortable at first. However, you will get used to it, and once you do, you’ll love it. The Oasis feels great with or without its included cover. The cover does pack an extra battery, though, which you’ll need for serious binge reading. It also adds some grip and it’ll feel more natural to those who are used to reading actual books or just using an older Kindle.
The Kindle Oasis is our favorite ebook reader to date.
The leather battery case connects to the Oasis with a strong magnet, so you needn’t fear that it’ll slip off while you’re reading. The extra battery evens out the back of the device, so it’s flat – just like the Kindles you’re used to. It does add another 107 grams to the weight, but since the ebook reader is so light to begin with, it’s not a problem. The inside of the cover is soft microfiber for keeping your screen clean, and the leather on the front of the case feels smooth and satisfying, like an old leather-bound book.
The device feels just as good without its cover. The polymer frame is plated with metal structural electroplating, which ensures that the super thin Kindle Oasis doesn’t flex or bend at all. It feels smooth and cold in your hands, instead of rubbery and chunky like previous Kindles. It’s the first ebook reader we’d describe as sexy.
Amazon thought of just about everything when it made the latest Kindle, but it missed out on one killer design feature. In a fit of irony, Amazon didn’t make the Oasis waterproof. This ebook reader’s kryptonite is old-fashioned H2O; so don’t go reading in the tub with it. It’s a real shame, because even the Barnes & Noble Nook is waterproof these days. Get with it, Amazon!
Crisp, bright screen, and other specs
Although the Oasis’ spec sheet looks nearly identical to that of the Voyage, it has a few new features. The 6-inch E Ink Carta screen has the same resolution as the two most recent Kindles, but Amazon packed in four more LEDs to ensure a brighter reading experience. The Oasis looks brighter than previous models and the lighting is more uniform than it is on the Voyage. We typically had it at about half the maximum brightness during the day. In a dark room at night, we had to dial it down even further.
Amazon says the display boasts a super thin 200-micron backplane and “chemically reinforced” cover glass for protection. There’s no seam between the page and the bezel, either, which adds to the premium feel of the Oasis.
Thanks to the accelerometer, you can flip the device around and switch hands while you’re reading. This is a blessing for lefties, but if you’re using the battery case, the Amazon logo on the front will be upside down. Sorry, lefties!
The Oasis packs 4GB of storage, which amounts to thousands of books. You also get free Amazon cloud storage for books you get on its marketplace. Unlike with older Kindles and other aging ebook readers, you won’t notice any page lag time, either, and the device loaded the ebook store with ease and speed.
Amazon offers both a Wi-Fi only model and a version with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. Most of you will really only need the Wi-Fi equipped Oasis, so save your money and download your books at home.
Plenty of ebooks and an easy-to-use-interface
Although Kindles aren’t the most open ebook readers, they do support a number of formats. Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, and PRC are supported natively; and you can get HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP files on your Oasis through conversion. Sadly, EPUB formats aren’t supported, and you’ll have to go to some trouble if you want them on your Kindle. It is possible, though not as easy as it would be on a Kobo ebook reader.
The easiest way to get books on the device is to simply download ebooks from Amazon. Naturally, that’s what Amazon wants you to do, so you keep spending money in its store. If you’ve been using other ebook formats, the transition will be irritating. However, if you’ve been getting your ebooks from Amazon all along, it’s not a problem.
In the store, you can browse categories of books, see recommended titles, best sellers, and a number of other Amazon offers. The more you read, the better Amazon’s suggestions will get. You can also choose from a number of magazines and newspapers. Amazon has one of the widest selections of ebooks you’ll find anywhere, so you won’t be disappointed if you end up in the Kindle ecosystem.
You can also try Amazon’s ebook subscription service, Kindle Unlimited, which gives you access to more than a million ebooks and hundreds of thousands on audiobooks. Assuming you typically spend more than that each month on ebooks, it’s a great deal.
The user interface is very simple, although it’s packed with features. To access the menu bar, just double tap at the top of the screen. Then, you’ll see the options for settings, the store, search, and more. Just like on every Kindle before it, it’s easy to change the font, text size, or brightness when you’re reading; or highlight a passage to share with friends on Facebook or Twitter. Amazon’s X-Ray also points out important clips, people, and terms if you’re reading a more complex story.
If you want an even more social experience, you can access Goodreads for reviews from fellow bookworms. It’s the little things that make Amazon’s ebook reading experience superior to reading on a Nook or a Kobo.
With great thinness, comes great sacrifice. Amazon says the battery lasts two weeks on a single charge, which a significant step down from the Kindle Voyage’s eight-week battery life. However, the included extended-battery cover gives the Kindle Oasis an astounding 8 weeks of juice. Of course, those measurements are “based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10,” but it’s still mighty impressive for such a slim device.
We’ve yet to exhaust the Oasis’ battery completely, though we did make a valiant effort, reading through an entire trilogy over the course of four days without a fully charged cover.
The Oasis magnetically snaps to the case, and when you plug it in to charge, the Kindle and the cover will charge at the same time. When you’re unplugged, the case will drain its battery first before the Oasis uses its internal one.
Simply put, with its cover on, the Oasis gets better battery life than any other electronic device with a screen.
Amazon offers a 1-year limited warranty and service with the purchase of an Oasis. You can also get 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year Extended Warranty programs from Amazon for $40-$100. You can read the terms here.
The Kindle Oasis is the best ebook reader that money can buy – Period. The sticking point for many of you will be its $290 price tag. Is that expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. If you’re an avid reader who takes your ebooks seriously and wants to enjoy reading digital books as if they were paperbacks, you have to try it. Even though I read excessively, I’ve never bought an ebook reader — but I’d buy this one.
The DT Accessory Pack
The Oasis is thinner, lighter, brighter, and faster than the $200 Kindle Voyage, and it comes with a leather case that doubles as an extended battery. We’d pay the extra $90 any day, even though it’s expensive. It’s also superior to the Barnes & Noble Nook Glowlight Plus, which will cost you $130; as well as the aging Kobo Aura H20 – even though both are waterproof.
It’s pricey, but this ebook reader will outlast most other digital devices, and you won’t have to replace it for many years. It’s much nicer to read on this Kindle than on any comparable tablet, including the iPad Mini 4, which will cost you about the same price and offer a fraction of the battery life.
We do wish that Amazon offered an option to purchase the Oasis without the battery case, so there’d be a lower price option for those on a budget. Regardless, the Kindle Oasis is our favorite ebook reader to date, and we heartily recommend it to any bookworm who wants to go digital.