Price (RRP): $449 ($399 for 8GB version)
For those of us who live our lives in front of all manner of display screens, the Kindle Oasis eBook reader seems almost like magic. It offers a seven-inch display that uses almost no power. Note, this is the 2019 version. We reviewed an earlier model back in 2016.
Kindle Oasis Features
I first saw some of that kind of magic back in 2003 at a Panasonic display in Japan. It was showing its own eBook reader (model BKE-AW-N7), a dual panel foldable design. The display was blue-green and the contrast extremely low. But it could run for an incredible three to six months on two AA batteries. How? Because the display only required power to change what it was showing, not to maintain it on screen. That struck me as revolutionary.
Sixteen years later, the technology has gotten enormously better, but the concept remains the same. The Paperwhite display in the Kindle Oasis requires no power to maintain an image on its display. It uses power when you change pages. It needs power for the backlight, when that is in use. And, of course, it uses power for its electronic innards.
It does not use AA batteries. Oh no, there’s no way they’d fit into a device that is only 8.3mm thick at its thickest, and 3.4mm thick for much of its area. Instead it has a built-in Lithium Ion battery, charged via a Micro-B USB socket. As for life, this is what Amazon says:
A single charge lasts up to six (6) weeks, based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless and Bluetooth off and the light setting at 13. Battery life will vary based on light settings, wireless usage.
Too right it will vary. When it arrived, I unpacked the Kindle Oasis, charged it up, installed a couple of books and then got distracted by other things for weeks. Several weeks. It just sat there on the coffee table, face up. It would catch my eye from time to time.
Always on display
You see, when the Kindle Oasis is off, its display is still on. It shows one of a small selection of patterns, such as the type face from a printing press. The backlight is off, but the display is on.
After a few weeks I thought I’d better check the battery level. It was still in the mid-70s in percentage terms. If you’re doing your reading outdoors or under strong room lights, so the backlight isn’t needed, you’ll get many more hours than the 21 hours implied by the above claim.
The display is monochrome – 16-level grey scale on a neutral white background. As seems to be the fad these days, you can change the colour of the light to something warmer if you wish, but only if the backlight is in use.
The display has a roughly 7-inch diagonal (6.95 inches by my measurement – 106.1mm wide and 141.2mm tall), with a 3:4 aspect ratio. It’s always in portrait mode, but a sensor tells it which way around it is, so it’ll flip the screen by 180 degrees to match its orientation. (The other Kindle models have 6-inch displays).
The two page-turn buttons are to the right on the thicker part, with the power button on the top edge and the Micro-B socket on the bottom edge. At the left, top and bottom, the bezel is around 9mm wide. The edge holding the buttons is 26mm wide. There’s enough to hold onto all the way around.
The Kindle Oasis body and diet
Amazon specifies the screen resolution at 300 pixels per inch (compared to 167ppi for the basic Kindle), which perhaps not coincidentally was the resolution of the first generation of monochrome laser printers. The number of pixels in each direction isn’t specified, but I calculate it at around 1,253 across by 1,667 vertically. There are apparently 25 LED lights.
The body of the Kindle Oasis is made from aluminium. The unit is fairly waterproof, with IPX8 rating. It’s good for immersion for up to an hour in two metres of fresh water. No problems taking it poolside.
It is available in 8GB or 32GB versions. I reviewed the 32GB model. Think room for thousands of books. I purchased a 1,000+ page Neal Stephenson book for the Kindle and its main file was 1,166KB. The 32GB model has around 27GB available for books. That is enough space for around 27,000 thousand-page novels!
Wi-Fi (or 4G) is generally how books are supplied to the Kindle Oasis. But you can also plug it into a computer, where it appears as a storage device. That allows you to drag in books, should you wish. There’s also a 4G model (32GB, $559).