Amazon has announced the new Kindle Oasis. The new Kindle redefines the e-reader with a dramatic overhaul in design, and a high-end, luxury price to go with it.
The Kindle has been around for eight years. That may not seem like that long in real time, but in tech years its eons. It’s hard to remember a time when Kindle wasn’t synonymous with reading, and you had to carry physical books—made of paper—around if you wanted to read stuff.
I’ve been hooked on the Kindle since its inception—both the actual device and the format for books. Kindle is still my reading method of choice even on my Surface Book, iPhone, and Android tablet. I love the Kindle, but I was under the impression Amazon would eventually be giving away the Kindle hardware for virtually nothing as a gateway drug to give customers incentive to buy more books—similar to the way inkjet printer hardware is essentially free because the ink is where the revenue really comes from. I am not completely sold on the strategy of creating more expensive devices.
That said, the Kindle Oasis seems to be truly different. The Kindle Voyage—which I must admit I have not actually had an opportunity to use—added a higher resolution display and a few bells and whistles, but it is still more or less just a more expensive Kindle. The Kindle Oasis, on the other hand, is completely re-engineered.
Amazon states that the Kindle Oasis weighs a mere 4.6 ounces. It is 20 percent lighter than any other Kindle and 30 percent thinner “on average”. The “on average” is important, because the Kindle Oasis is not a uniform thickness. Amazon has modified the basic design of the device to make it more comfortable and ergonomic. The Amazon press release explains, “Kindle Oasis is designed for extended reading sessions—with an entirely reimagined shape, Kindle Oasis shifts the center of gravity to your palm, to rest in your hand like the spine of a book so that the device feels balanced for one-handed reading. Effortlessly turn the page with either the touch display or physical buttons. Oasis is comfortable to read on with either hand—a built-in accelerometer detects whether you are reading with your left or right hand, and automatically rotates the page and page turn buttons to match.”
“To lean back and read for hours, you need a sanctuary from distraction,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO in a press release statement. “We want Kindle to disappear, and Kindle Oasis is the next big step in that mission. It’s the most advanced Kindle we’ve ever built—thin and ultra-lightweight, it gets out of the way so you can lose yourself in the author’s world.”
There are also some other unique features of the Kindle Oasis. It has a dual-battery design when paired with the cover and a variety of power-efficiency features, which Amazon claims will allow the Kindle Oasis to go for months on a single charge. It also has a hefty $290 price tag.
I already consider the Kindle Voyage to be too expensive. I think it sounds great on paper, but not significantly different enough to make the $200 price tag worth it when I can get a standard-issue Kindle for $80. Now, the Kindle Oasis comes along at almost $300—which is starting to seem more like iPad Mini territory and less like a Kindle.
The proof is in the proverbial pudding, though. I’m intrigued by the new ergonomic design and the shift in the center of balance with the Kindle Oasis. It sounds like it may actually make a difference in reading comfort and longevity when using the device.
I will reserve judgment until Amazon sends me a review unit to play with so I can determine if it is as awesome as it sounds, or if really just isn’t worth $290. I won’t hold my breath, though. I’m still waiting to review the original Amazon Echo.