Kindle eBook readers, once they evolved a few years ago to have those marvellous, gently glowing screens for night-time reading, would seem to be the most unimprovable of technologies. So had you asked me what was needed to refine or enhance a Kindle, I would have been stumped. A fully waterproof version would be a good idea, and I’d like one that is replaced free if it is lost or broken, but neither of these suggestions would make it a deluxe model.
And yet Amazon has succeeded in upgrading the Kindle quite brilliantly. The Kindle Oasis – which at £330 for its top model is considerably more expensive than an iPad Mini 2 – comes with a free-for-life 3G connection for downloading books, a high-resolution 300 ppi display and a mass of other features. But what makes the Kindle both highly desirable and a delight to use is the supreme quality, exquisite feel (so important in a book reader), diminutive size and superb functionality. It is a thing of beauty in all respects – which makes you want to use it to the max. It also works well (as I use it) with Amazon’s Kindle app.
The Oasis comes in two parts: the reader itself, which has a swollen battery and electronics section that works perfectly as a hand grip; and the leather case, which snaps on magnetically and contains a bigger power source. The case charges the reader’s auxiliary battery, and together they conspire to give you several month’s power on one charge.
You may agonise over whether to use the Oasis case-on or case-off. Both options are ergonomically spot-on. As are other features of the device. One such is that the Oasis can be comfortably used right- or left-handed; there’s even an accelerometer to detect which hand you are holding it in, so that the touchscreen page turning can be done in the same way in each case. There are also physical buttons for page turning that work in both directions too, which are most welcome.
A note about the size of the Oasis – it weighs just 131g and is 3.4mm at its thinnest, but the screen looks tiny. This is an optical illusion, however; the 6in screen is the same size as other Kindles – it’s just that the bezel is narrower. The screen, incidentally, is front rather than backlit and contains 10 LEDs, as opposed to the four on the Kindle Voyage or the Paperwhite, all of which makes it a little brighter and more uniformly lit – and therefore easier on the eye.