Amazon wants you to buy just one more Kindle, then never worry about buying another again.
Announced today, the Amazon Kindle Oasis is the latest in a line of “flagship” e-readers that boasts improved screen visibility, more comfortable ergonomics, and longer battery life. It also boasts a premium price, $289, pushing Amazon’s previous flagship reader, the Kindle Voyage, to the number two spot at “only” $199 (without cover).
So what do you get for your money that you don’t get with the Kindle Voyage (my current e-reader)? You get a device that’s 30% thinner, 20% lighter, and lasts for up to nine weeks on the internal battery without the (included!) leather charging cover. With the cover on? That nine weeks rockets to months.
The screen is the same “I can’t believe it’s not paper” 300 dpi e-ink screen sported by the Kindle Voyage and Paperwhite. It’s infinitely readable. The difference here is that the new form factor allows for 10 LEDs to the Kindle Voyage’s 6, providing a better front light to reduce eyestrain even further.
About that form factor: it’s pronouncedly lopsided, but intentionally so. Amazon says shifting the weight to one side makes it easier to hold in one hand, making long reading sessions more comfortable. The hump is less pronounced once you attach the cover. More than just a fancy wrapper (like the Kindle Voyage’s very nice, but mostly superfluous add-on cover), the Kindle Oasis comes with a battery cover that significantly extends the life of the device. I’m looking forward to seeing how this works in practice. I can envision a scenario where, instead of having to stop mid-read to charge your Kindle, you pull off your cover, let that charge up, then reattach when it’s ready.
Amazon says that they will not see significant profit from the sales of the device and, indeed, would be happy if this was the last Kindle you ever bought. Instead, they see profits coming from people using the device and growing into the Kindle ecosystem. Which begs the question, why such a high price point? Does the upgraded hardware justify the $100 premium over the Kindle Voyage (after you factor in buying a leather cover for that device)? It’s also notable that this version doesn’t have the adaptive front lighting or capacitative page turn buttons that sold me on its predecessor (it does, however, see the return of physical page turn buttons!). I’ll be curious to see how much I miss those features.
I’ll be getting a Kindle Oasis in the coming months to pit against my well-used Kindle Voyage. I will say that Amazon hasn’t let me down when it comes to e-readers. They practically created the market and their experience shows in the superior quality of their hardware. I have no doubt that the Kindle Oasis will earn its top-of-the-line status. If you’ve never owned a high-end Kindle (or are the kind of person that thinks a “high-end Kindle” is a justifiable expense) this will be the one to pick up. Pre-orders are live now, with the device shipping in the next few weeks.