“So why Oasis?” I asked. “Because it’s a sanctuary, a place for reading without any distractions”. Oh. Well there goes my palm-trees-in-the-desert theory.
Yes, Amazon has a new Kindle, and I might as well get the price out of the way first. It’s £270 (RM1,490).
I don’t need to tell you how dear that is for an e-reader, because the price tag speaks for itself. Your wallet is not going to be happy.
But - and I have to stress that my impressions are based on a brief 15 minute hands-on - it is rather lovely.
Seriously, where’s the rest of it?
Before I saw the Oasis itself, I was presented with its new thinner screen and internal components. Laid bare, for all the world to see, there really didn’t look like there was much to it. But that still didn’t prepare me for just how tiny this thing really is.
I was preparing to muster up some forced enthusiasm for a slightly smaller, slightly lighter Kindle Voyage (yawn), but what I was handed instead was a sleek sliver of a gadget that weighs next to nothing, dominated by a big bright screen.
The Oasis is almost unbelievably thin. At its slimmest point it's just 3.4mm. Its average measurement overall is thicker though, thanks to a wedge-like design. Its thin body bulks out at one edge, shifting the weight (supplied by the internals and battery) to one side.
This, coupled with its feathery 131g weight, minimal bezels and tiny footprint, makes for a very comfortable piece of tech regardless of which hand you hold it it in. Granted, I haven’t had a War and Peace-style reading session on the thing yet, but I find it hard to imagine it causing any arm ache.
Oh, and when you hold it, you'll feel like you have the hands of a giant.
The Oasis' weight is kept low apparently without sacrificing durability. The polymer frame, left untreated, feels like very bendy, flimsy plastic. But once it’s put through Amazon’s electroplating process which coats it with a fine layer of metal, it becomes much more rigid and hardy, without gaining any noticeable weight.
The difference between the treated and untreated back samples I handled was very noticeable, and the Oasis itself feels comfortably solid in the hands. Whether that’ll be enough to help justify that outrageous sticker price is another matter entirely.
Screen if you want to go brighter
A thin and light body means very little if you're torturing your eyes with a shoddy screen. That is, after all, the feature that matters most when deciding which ereader to go for.
A brief hands-on certainly isn't enough to draw any definitive conclusions, first impressions are positive. This should come as little surprise: the Oasis packs in a near-identical screen to the Kindle Voyage.
It matches its Amazonian brother with a 300dpi resolution, which is more than sharp enough for reading, and the contrast is high enough to ensure that black text clearly punches out against the background.
Like the Voyage and Paperwhite, the Oasis' has a built-in light, but with some noticeable improvements for good measure. The LEDs have shifted from the top and bottom of the display to the sides. This allows for more to be used and reduces the distance the light has to travel from edge to edge.
This results in a screen that's noticeably brighter than its Voyage sibling in a side by side comparison, and that should result in a more comfortable reading experience in dim or dark conditions - though I’ll have to wait for the full review to put it through its twilight-reading paces.
The Oasis also has a built-in accelerometer, which you can use to quickly reorient the screen from portrait to landscape or simply to a more left-hand friendly portrait position. And yes, the buttons automatically flip when the Kindle does.
The Kindle Voyage has enough juice to last six weeks in between charges. The Oasis, on the other hand, lasts ‘just’ two weeks. That might be miraculous longevity by smartphone or tablet standards, but in the e-reader world it's far less stellar. There is, though, a solution.
The Oasis’ leather cover (which is included as standard) firmly and reassuringly hugs the back of the device with 12 self-aligning magnets, ensuring that its metal pogo pins line up and connect correctly.
Those pins allow the cover’s built-in battery to bump up the Oasis’ total battery life from two weeks to a much more impressive nine weeks.
Ten minutes of case-charging serves up to an hour’s worth of extra use, but you’ll probably want to leave the case on at all times anyway, given the extra protection it offers.
You can choose between black, brown and maroon leather covers, and I'd go for the brown one myself. It should pick up marks over time, building up character like a cowboy's saddle. I think. I don't know much about horses.
You can get a 32GB iPad Mini 2 for RM290 less than the Kindle Oasis. Yes, it’s an old tablet, but it does a hell of a lot more, with ebooks thrown in for good measure (albeit on a less comfortable display).
Then we have the Kindle Voyage and Paperwhite - two top-class e-readers priced at £170 (RM940) and £110 (about RM600) respectively.
The Paperwhite is currently our favourite e-reader based on bang-for-buck performance, while the Voyage is the one to go for if you're feeling extravagant.
If the Voyage is extravagant then, what does that make the Oasis? Is it really worth a whopping £100 (RM550) extra? From what I’ve seen so far, I’m not entirely convinced.
It definitely improves upon it in all the key areas. Its screen is brighter, it lasts longer overall (once you factor in the case), and it’s incredibly portable. I suspect it could well be the best ever e-reader, but only with a 'money no object' caveat.
We'll have to wait for production sample to be sure, though. Bookmark this page, and we'll see you back here for our final review.