Amazon's Kindle Oasis and the sheer joy of reading

"It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don't read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don't read anymore." — Steve Jobs on the introduction of the Kindle"We think iPad will be a terrific e-book reader for popular books and textbooks." Steve Job on iPad Launch day

I love books. I love to read. Back when there were bookstores, I'd spend every Friday afternoon browsing the shelves, checking for anything new from my favorite authors, walking the aisles for new writers and genres. I rarely left without at least three or four new books. When I traveled, I never wanted to be with less than three unread books; that's how I killed time flying in the days before Wi-Fi in the sky.

When Kindle came out, I was totally into the idea. The notion of traveling not with a few books but with a whole library in a form lighter and easier to carry than even a single book? That was a dream come true. At least mostly. While more convenient, even its e-ink display wasn't as enjoyable a reading experience as a real, paper book.

That's what the new Kindle Oasis hopes to achieve.

E-book readers have been around for a long time. I bought my first one from a friend in Tokyo—the original Sony Libre. It was mediocre but hinted at the future. The Oasis is most of the way there. The hardware is beautiful. It's small, it's light. In a world where there's a race for thinnest gadget, the Kindle Oasis wins hands down. The balance and ergonomics feel great. There's virtually nothing about the hardware I don't like. It also has a beautiful leather cover with integrated battery for topping off.

The screen is a beautiful 300dpi e-ink display (Amazon says it's improved from last year's model, but I can't see the difference). Page turn lag is a thing of the past and the Kindle handles all of Amazon's titles, of course, as well as any other .Mobi or PDF file.

Now, I already have an iPhone and an iPad, which have Retina displays and offer great reading experiences, so why bother with a Kindle or any e-reader? Why bother with a uni-tasker that would make Alton Brown cringe?

For the sheer joy of reading.

  • The soft, always-on LED-lit display that makes reading electronically more like reading paper.
  • The feather-light weight of just a few ounces that make such a difference when reading for more than fifteen minutes.
  • The immersive experience, where the device truly does disappear.

Those are things that simply aren't replicated on any tablet. Because sometimes, the all in one, converged device doesn't offer the optimal experience.

Ask a photography enthusiast about their cameras or a watch enthusiast about the mechanical marvel on their wrist. Both are ultimate uni-taskers.

The Kindle Oasis is an e-book reader par-excellence—an ultimate uni-tasker like the camera or watch.

It does have a few downsides, though.

  • It costs way too much (part of that is the leather cover and battery).
  • It's still a niche device that, if you don't want to read, is useless to you.

For anyone who loves—loves—to read, though, it might become your favorite gadget. It's already become a permanent fixture on my night table and in my carry bag.

I’ve covered the personal technology beat for more than two decades at places like Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. I’ve also had the fun of contributing my $.02 on the topic at Computerworld, Engadget, Macworld, SlashGear and now iMore. Most recently I spent a few years at Apple as Sr. Director of Worldwide Product Marketing. On Twitter I’m an unverified @gartenberg. I still own some Apple stock.

9 Comments
  • I hear so many "it's so expensive compared to the Paper White" - yet as people seem to not be pointing out, Amazon sold cases for the Kindle that were around the $70 mark already. So if you bought the previously top of the line Kindle and a cover, you pretty much paid close to $280 already... And those cases didn't have a cover. Sent from the iMore App
  • I also love to read, and have the latest generation of Kindle. You know how much my Kindle cost? $45.00 on ebay. Technically it was used, but I could not tell the difference between a brand new one and the one I received. It may not be 300 ppi, but its still very sharp, and provides an excellent reading experience. I can't see spending that much money on something that does the same thing as the latest plain old Kindle. I know, it has a backlight, but you know what I do? Use natural light (free) or a lamp (very cheap for that electricity stuff).
  • At first I was put off by the shape. But as I considered further and saw how light it was I really wanted to try it. I even ordered it. But then logic prevailed so I canceled it . And I ended up with the paperwhite. If only the oasis came with an optional case.
  • Yeah, I'll stick with my Kindle Voyage, I don't see anything about the Oasis worth the change. The Voyage, with case, is $90 cheaper, still has the LED screen, still comes with a case, cheaper if you get it without the case, still has 300ppi, it's probably a little smaller and thicker. Sent from the iMore App
  • So it's just like a lot of Apple products to most people. Really great but overpriced. Sorry but unless it was as thin as paper and flexible, I can't see spending that much. The Paperwhite has the same display dpi and is much more affordable. Not sure who Amazon made this for. Sent from the iMore App
  • For me it's far too expensive for a Kindle. I'll stick with my Paperwhite. I'm surprised that Michael didn't specifically mention the main advantages of an e-reader's e-ink display: dramatically longer battery life, and the fact that it works perfectly in direct sunlight, unlike the transmissive screens of most mobile devices, which wash out. A lot of people do most of their reading whilst sitting in the sun on holiday, so e-ink screens are ideal. I am hoping that Apple will use some sort of combination e-ink/OLED screen on the next version of the Apple Watch, so that it can be always on without draining the battery too much. There were some patents around a few years ago concerning placing an e-ink screen on top of an OLED/LCD screen, which would be ideal for the Watch. It might also help with visibility in sunlight, although only for relatively static functionality like displaying the time.
  • I love reading books on my Voyage, and the Oasis looks like a great device. My main objection to reading eBooks is still the price and the fact that you never really own them. It's discouraging when the eBook price on Amazon is more than the paperback, but I do tend to blame that on the publisher.
  • I love reading. But I'd rather read on my iPad. I don't see the point of having an iPad and another reading device. But maybe this is for those that don't have another device capable of reading.
  • I agree. I don't see the point. The iPad works great with the Kindle app. The only problem is you can't read in the sun but then again, that's what trees were made for.