If you love reading - and I mean really, really love it - you could have done a lot worse than the Kindle Oasis.
Amazon’s most expensive e-reader was also its most portable, most pocket-friendly, and longest-lasting. We loved it. Now though, there’s a successor - and it’s somehow even better.
With a bigger screen, bigger battery, better Bluetooth, and a newfound ability to withstand the wet stuff, it really could be the best Kindle Amazon has ever made.
After trying one out ahead of the official reveal, there might never have been a better time to ditch the hardbacks and move to digital once and for all.
LEFTY LOOSEY, RIGHTY TIGHTY
The new Oasis looks very similar to the old one - only everything is a little bigger this time around. It’s thicker at one side but super skinny on the other, giving you something to comfortably grab on to, while staying perfectly balanced in your hand.
You can hold it in either hand, and don’t have to worry about flipping the orientation if you swap between left and right - there’s an accelerometer that automatically reorients the page so it’s facing the right direction. It’s super-quick, too, redrawing the screen by the time you’ve flipped the thing over.
With glass covering the whole front panel, there’s no gap between the e-ink screen and surrounding bezel. It makes swiping to change pages an absolute cinch, but there are two simple buttons that get the job done too if you want something to press instead.
The back is pure aluminium, which only adds to the premium feel. The whole thing is expertly crafted and feels well put together - constantly sling this in and out of a bag on your weekday commute and it shouldn’t come a cropper.
Oh, and pool-dwellers’ prayers have finally been answered: the whole thing is IPX8 water-resistant, so taking a dunking won’t put an end to your holiday reading.
SO MUCH MORE ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES
Speaking of screen, that 7in display is a real beaut. Amazon has bumped up the resolution slightly to keep the same 300ppi display density as the outgoing Oasis, so graphic novels, illustrations and magazine images look just as sharp as before - only now they’re larger.
It’s front-lit, of course, with 12 LEDS (up from 10 in the original Oasis) creating a smooth, even glow across the whole display. Even better? Adaptive lighting. The less expensive Kindle Voyage had an ambient light sensor, but it was oddly missing on the 1st-gen Oasis - Amazon has rectified that here, adding twin sensors that automatically raise and lower the light brightness to suit your surroundings.
I only saw the new Oasis during the day, so will have to wait for a full review to see if it can lower the lights enough for night-time reading.
The extra screen space means you can fit more words on each page, and you’ll have to do less page-turning overall. Seeing how the screen only uses power when you refresh it, that should mean more time between battery top-ups too.
The new Oasis is physically bigger than the old one, to make room for the larger screen, so naturally there’s more room inside for batteries. Amazon has managed to squeeze one in that’ll get you through six weeks of use - a threefold improvement on the outgoing device. The optional flip covers might have lost their battery-boosting abilities as a result, but a month and a half should be enough for just about anyone.
Last year’s entry-level Kindle added Bluetooth for the first time, but it was mainly for the VoiceView screen reading accessibility mode. Now, though? It’s audiobook heaven. Pair the Oasis to a speaker or pair of wireless headphones, and you’ll be able to tune in to your Audible audiobooks straight from the device.
Audible is fully integrated here, so you can jump between reading and listening whenever you like with a couple of taps. It tracks which page you’ve got to and resumes playback at the exact point you left off, so you don’t hear the same bit you’ve just read.
The basic model has 8GB of on-board storage now, so there’s double the room to store your files. Amazon reckons its customers downloaded a whopping two billion hours of audiobooks in 2016, and this move is only going to make that number jump even higher. Want more? There’s a 32GB version available too, complete with 3G for Wi-Fi-free downloads.
AMAZON KINDLE OASIS (2017) INITIAL VERDICT
Amazon has given its top-end Kindle some genuinely useful upgrades, without compromising on design or battery life. Everyone can appreciate a bigger screen, and waterproofing has been a long time coming. Audiobooks over Bluetooth open up a whole new way to enjoy your reading library, too.
It’s also cheaper than the original Oasis, at £229. Still expensive for an e-reader, sure, but a £50 price cut is very welcome, especially when the value of the pound is weaker than wet tissue paper.
If there’s a downside here, I couldn’t spot it. The 2017 Oasis looks like the best Kindle yet, and I can’t wait to get one into the office for a full review.