There are three Kindle eReaders to choose between at the moment (not including the kids’ one), and of these the Kindle Oasis is the biggest, the most expensive, and the best in terms of features and functions. That doesn’t necessarily mean it's the best eReader for you, however.
At £229.99 (and up), it’s quite an investment for a device that may have some really nice features, and look fantastic, but that doesn't actually do a whole lot more than the basic, entry level Kindle does. That's the one that costs a mere £79.99. But that can’t be the whole story.
We took a closer look at the Kindle Oasis, reviewing it in depth to try and guide you through the specs and the options you need to know about… as well as why Amazon charges so much money for this particular eReader. It's undoubtedly a fantastic piece of hardware, but we still have reservations.
Kindle Oasis: design
At 7 inches corner to corner, the Kindle Oasis has a bigger display than the 6-inch screen on the basic Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite – that's the first reason you might pick this one over the other two. It's also the only Kindle eReader in the current range to have physical buttons for turning the pages, although you can also tap on the screen if you prefer.
The back of the device is ridged, which in theory makes it easier to hold, but we're not convinced. The Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite are perfectly easy to hold in one hand, and they might actually be easier to hold up than the Kindle Oasis, because of their smaller size. This is one of the Kindle Oasis features that feels a little superfluous.
The Oasis does have a metal finish rather than plastic, and it's undoubtedly pleasant to the touch. The screen sits flush with the front of the device as well, and we have to admit it does have a premium appearance: it looks like an eReader that costs a bit extra. Your colour options are gold (like our review unit) or graphite.
We're pleased to report that the Kindle Oasis is fully waterproof, so it's also going to survive a dunk in the bath or the paddling pool. Unfortunately it still makes use of the older microUSB standard for charging. That's fine, and you do get a cable in the box, but it would be easier in terms of cable clutter if it just used USB-C like pretty much everything else nowadays.
Kindle Oasis: specifications
When it comes to Kindle eReaders, there aren't too many specs you need to concern yourself with: we've already mentioned the 7-inch screen, and the only other feature really worth mentioning is the choice you've got between 8GB or 32GB of storage (the same as on the Kindle Paperwhite). Considering 8GB can hold around 6,000 e-books, we think that's going to be enough for most people.
If you go for the 32GB version, the price gets bumped up along with the memory – to a hefty £259.99. There's also the option of 4G connectivity, which means you'll be able to download new e-books even while you're away from Wi-Fi. If you opt for that model (with 32GB of storage) it will set you back £319.99. For most users, buying, downloading and syncing while on Wi-Fi will be fine (you can of course read your e-books anywhere, once they're synced).
All the models in the Kindle range should last you weeks between charges, although it does of course depend how much reading you do (and how bright you have the screen). After a week of reading an hour a day, we saw the battery dip from 100 percent to 85 percent, so Amazon's claims do hold up...unless you're a voracious reader. As long as you have a full charge when you leave, the battery on this Kindle will last you the duration of a holiday or a week camping.
As you're not playing games or browsing the web on your Kindle Oasis, it doesn't need particular fast internals, but we're pleased to report that the eReader is snappy in its page turning and its menu loading. It may even be a touch faster than the Kindle Paperwhite, but they're all more or less the same in terms of responsiveness and page loading times. If you've never used an e-ink screen before then it's a little slower than a phone or a tablet, but it's perfectly fine for reading e-books.
Kindle Oasis: reading
One of the party tricks that sets the Kindle Oasis apart from the Paperwhite and the basic Kindle is that as well as the brightness, you can adjust the warmth of the display. That means in the evening you can reduce the blue light emitted by the Oasis for a more orange tone and limit the strain on your eyes. Like a lot of the premium features on the Kindle Oasis, it's nice to have but not really essential.
There is a lot of play with the brightness and warmth settings though, plus all the usual font size and alignment customisation options you get with every Kindle. You can definitely get this eReader set up for a reading experience that's tailored specifically to you (and the lighting conditions that you're in), and we had no complaints with reading e-books or finding new ones to download.
Text is sharp and easy to make out on the background, the choice of fonts is good, and we could happily read for an hour or two at a time with no signs of eye strain appearing. We'd say the reading experience is slightly superior to the one you get with the Kindle Paperwhite, but there's not a huge amount in it.
Having physical buttons to turn the pages actually makes quite a difference – it means you're not always covering up the screen with your fingers or dirtying it with fingerprints. The compromise is the big black slab at the side of the display, but we think it's worth it. Note that you can use the Kindle Oasis with either your left hand or your right hand, as the display will simply rotate to suit.
Kindle Oasis: verdict
While the features and the price of the Kindle Paperwhite mean that it's usually labelled as the Kindle for most people, the Kindle Oasis is the Kindle for those who want the very best eReader experience around. The price means it's not really an option for some, but it's hard to deny the quality of the craftsmanship or the reading experience (Amazon has been making Kindles for years, so you would expect the standard to be high).
The Kindle Oasis really shows off how great an eReader can be, with a large and sharp screen, display temperature and brightness controls, plenty of customisation options and all the goodies that you normally get with these types of devices (the ability to look up word definitions in an instant, at-a-glance info on how much reading time you've got left with an e-book, and so on).
If you're choosing between this and the Kindle Paperwhite, the Oasis gives you that slightly bigger screen, the ridged back, the physical buttons, and more options in terms of backlighting and screen temperature. Everything else is pretty much the same. Whether that's worth an additional £100 of your money is, ultimately, your call.
Overall it's hard not to be impressed by the Kindle Oasis, in terms of both the hardware and the software that it offers. If you consider yourself a serious e-book enthusiast, want the very best device that money can buy, and you're prepared to pay whatever it takes, then the Kindle Oasis is the obvious choice.