Kindle Oasis (2017) hands-on: Water-resistance and Audible integration ramp up the luxury factor on this new e-reader
Kindle Oasis (2017) release date
You can pre-order the new Kindle Oasis from today; it will ship towards the end of the month.
Kindle Oasis (2017) price
Prices start from £229 for an 8GB model and £259 for the 32GB version. There’s a 3G option available too, which is a 32GB model for £319.
It’s been a busy few weeks for Amazon, with the company unveiling a shed-load of Alexa-toting Echo speakers, 4K HDR TV dongles and Amazon Fire tablets. But one particular product has been missing from the ramble: a new version of the Amazon Kindle.
Since there hasn’t been much by way of disruption to the Kindle e-reader’s dominance this year, Amazon appears happy to keep its budget options the same this time around. Instead, the company is updating its higher-end Oasis reader.
When the Kindle Oasis first launched, it was clearly a luxurious product. While it struggled to up its offering in terms of functionality next to the cheaper Kindles – even lacking in some areas – it looked gorgeous.
The second-generation Kindle Oasis fixes the majority of the problems seen with the first iteration – but more exciting is the fact that it offers features that we haven’t seen on Kindles before. These additions could actually make the Oasis 2 worth the money, even with a starting price of £229.
Like the original Oasis, the Oasis 2 looks visibly different to the other Kindles. The screen sits to one side, next to a duo of physical page-turning buttons. The device is somewhat bulbous beneath the display, slimming out to a very thin point. This provides something to clutch on to, and it’s also where the battery and other internals live.
The previous Oasis was supplied with a small battery inside the actual device, and a much larger one inside a leather cover that came in the box. This was fine, but it limited you to using that particular case. I also found that without the case, the battery barely lasted a few days. Amazon has removed the need for the case with the new model, instead fitting a much bigger battery inside the Kindle Oasis. Amazon reps told me to expect six weeks of battery life with this new setup, which sounds fair.
The lack of case has led to a few other design tweaks too. The rear of the Kindle Oasis is now aluminium, rather than soft-touch plastic, and gone are the visible pins that were previously used to charge the case. The design feels much cleaner and classier.
Another big design change is the switch to a larger 7-inch screen, rather than the 6-inch one used previously. Although this makes the Oasis 2 less pocketable, the bigger panel and less-cramped viewing area makes for a worthy trade-off.
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The screen itself retains the 300 pixels-per-inch (PPI) of the outgoing Oasis, but it finally adds in the auto-brightness option that debuted on the Kindle Voyage. This automatically adjusts the intensity of the front light depending on the environment you’re in.
I appreciate the new design, but the two most significant upgrades that would see me choose this Kindle over the Paperwhite or Voyage are Audible integration and an IPX8 waterproof rating.
Having a Kindle that I can happily leave by the pool without fear of it becoming damaged is something I’ve longed for over the years, and I’m surprised it’s taken Amazon this long to add it in. An IPX8 rating means the Kindle Oasis 2 will happily survive being submerged in water for two hours – which is more than most phones boasting an IP67/8 rating.
Audiobook integration has been added too. Amazon owns Audible – the biggest name in audiobooks – and the company has done a fine job at making it work properly on the Oasis.
Already downloaded audiobooks from Audible will show up alongside your regular books. If you own both the Kindle book and Audible audiobook then they’ll show up as one; you can switch between the two with the tap of the button. It’s a seamless process that works as advertised, at least in my short time with the reader.
There’s a small caveat here, though: there’s no headphone jack or speaker on the Kindle Oasis 2. Instead, you’ll have to use Bluetooth headphones and a Bluetooth speaker. Amazon told me this was to retain the slim form factor of the device – which doesn’t make it any less annoying.
Water-resistance and Audible integration have been two of the biggest features missing from previous Kindles, so having them here instantly makes the new Oasis an interesting prospect.
With prices starting at £229 for an 8GB model and £259 for 32GB, the Oasis remains a luxury product that’s likely only to attract the most obsessive of Kindle fans. Nevertheless, having features that actually set the Oasis apart from the £59 Kindle and £109.99 Paperwhite at least make it an easier sell than the previous model.