Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019 review: getting warmer

Amazon & # 39; s Kindle Oasis is the pinnacle of the company's e-reader offering (and given Amazon's huge dominance in space, also the nicest e-reader there is to buy, full stop.) And with the Kindle Paperwhite that functions many of the unique features of the Oasis since the release of the second-gen model in 2017, how do you keep the Oasis at the top?

Advertisements

Well, if you are Amazon, the answer & # 39; seems to make the screen yellower & # 39 ;.

For the third generation Oasis, Amazon has made only one real change: the new model can adjust the color temperature of the screen and turn yellow. It is a similar function as flux or your phone's night mode, designed to use less blue light to read & # 39; night by replacing it with a warmer, yellower tone.

There are two ways to activate the color temperature: manually by adjusting it in the drop-down menu or, just like on your phone, by setting it to a timer that can be automatically activated at a set timer or coincides with sunrise and sunset . You can also adjust the intensity of the effect, ranging from a mild yellow hue to a full amber color, depending on your preferences.

If you are someone who prefers existing night mode systems for computers and telephones, you will probably be a fan of the heat function to read & # 39; night – less blue light has a positive effect on sleep schedules & reduces eye strain.

But I kept the warmer light on even during the day, for a much simpler reason: it turns out that the light yellow shade is the missing ingredient to make the Kindle's pretty good screen look really good.


As an old Kindle user, the normal Kindle display never bothered me until I started using the warmer display of the new Oasis. The old oasis now looks side by side, with a morbid gray background for the text at lower brightness and a corpse-like white at higher.

Advertisements

The new Oasis does not have that problem. Using the color temperature option, it can mimic the slightly off-white color that real books have instead of the snow-white quality of older Amazon screens. Given the choice between the two screens, I always reached for the new Oasis. It's subtle, but it makes a big difference in which part of my brain something like "book" is processed as "screen".

It is not a perfect effect and it takes some hassle with the brightness and temperature settings for whatever ambient light is there. But when everything comes together, the Kindle's promise becomes reality: a digital book that looks like paper. Or not paper, but paper as it should be, with an inner glow that never stretches your eyes and that has every book you can imagine. (Other times the settings are incorrect and you have a strangely glowing, yellowish rectangle instead of a strangely glowing white, but at least it's a little better for your eyes.)

If this assessment is oddly focused on a single function, it is because Amazon left the external design of the Kindle Oasis unchanged from 2017, to the point that if the review units we didn't have different colors, it would be impossible to get them tell separately at sight.

There is only one other change to the Oasis of 2019: an update to "the next generation of e-ink technology for fast page movements," said Amazon. Testing the two devices head-to-head, the newer model feels ever-so-slightly faster than the old one when refreshing pages, but if Amazon hadn't mentioned it in its PR, it's not it kind that I would have ever noticed on my own. And if you have the previous generation Oasis, it's almost impossible to recommend dropping $ 250 on the new model.


Now the lack of change can be seen as a good thing: the Amazon hardware is now as excellent as in 2017. The one-hand design is still perfectly in your hand, with the physical page rotary knobs perfectly placed under your thumb (a luxury that I wish Amazon would extend to its cheaper devices).

The 300 ppi E Ink display still looks bright and clear and the screen is still a soft-to-feel glass, with a lamp powered by 12 hidden LEDs that evenly distribute the light across the display.

The hardware is still classified for IPX8 waterproofing, so it survives a day at the beach or at a swimming pool or & # 39; evening in the bath as good as the previous model. The software is the same (with the slightly updated Kindle operating system that Amazon introduced earlier this year and adds a few settings for adjusting the text size and layout). And although I have hardly had enough time to test the famous, long battery life on the new Oasis, I have every expectation that it will still measure in weeks, not days.

Advertisements

And yet, despite the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" mentality here from Amazon doubling its previous successes, I can't help but wish the company had tried a little harder to improve things. Two years later, the list of Kindle omissions is becoming increasingly absurd.

Somehow a luxury Kindle of $ 250 still cannot connect to 5 GHz WiFi networks. The lack of USB-C on a whole new piece of hardware that is expected to last for years for customers is similarly worrying, just like the relatively stagnant software. And with two years of R&D time, was it not possible to shave the edges on the sides of the screen or even slightly refine the design?


The new Oasis is good, but it feels like Amazon is rolling out here. Without real pressure from the competition, it can afford to release a lazy update, adding only features that can stay ahead of a competitor, Kobo, which has been offering a similar blue light filter feature for a while.

The new feature also helps the Oasis to stand out from Amazon's only real competition: its own Kindle Paperwhite, which has the same 300ppi display, waterproofing and feature set as the Oasis for a fraction of the price. It was true in 2017, and it is still true today: unless you appreciate the design, the buttons or the extra inch of screen space to pay a huge premium, the Paperwhite is the Kindle for most people to buy, adjustable color temperature or not.

The Kindle Oasis is supposed to be the Kindle you are aiming for. Although the Paperwhite – smaller, cheaper and more plastic – is the best-selling e-reader from Amazon, the Oasis is the one that customers should want. The new screen helps to increase it even further and offers the best reading experience so far on real paper. But in the end the price and lack of differentiation of both the previous Oasis and the cheaper Paperwhite make it a tough sale for everyone except the most dedicated Kindle readers.

Advertisements

Vox Media has affiliated partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media can earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. See for more information our ethical policy.

- Advertisement -