If you’re looking for a premium ereader, you’re almost certainly looking at Amazon’s Kindle Oasis (or the Kobo Forma, but that doesn’t have the name recognition of Amazon’s Kindle range, which is synonymous with ereaders).
The Kindle Oasis devices are Amazon's top-of-the-line ereaders, and the most recent one is this 2019 model.
In Amazon's hierarchy, the base Amazon Kindle sits as the most affordable device, with its basic screen, limited storage space and few features, and the Kindle Paperwhite bumps up the screen resolution and storage space and adding a few tricks like waterproofing. This Oasis is technically the top Kindle, though the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition has lots of its features and is two years newer.
With display features including adaptable brightness, impressive backlighting, and in this latest model a warmth setting to reduce eye strain, the Kindle Oasis line is for people who want the most luxurious reading experience, at a price point to match. But is that price tag really justified for a device that’s a relatively minor step above the Kindle Paperwhite?
Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019) price and availability
Given the status of the Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019) as Amazon’s most premium ereader, you should be prepared to wince at its $249.99 / £229.99 / AU$399 / AED 999 price tag. That’s for 8GB onboard memory; if you want 32GB storage the price goes up to $279.99 / £259.99 / AU$449 / AED 1,099.
There’s also a version with 32GB memory and free 4G for downloading books on the go in limited markets, which will set you back $349.99 / £319.99 / AU$559.
In comparison, the base Kindle costs $89.99 / £69.99 / AU$139 / AED359 for 4GB storage, and the Kindle Paperwhite will set you back $129.99 / £119.99 / AU$199 / AED649 for 8GB memory, so even the cheapest Oasis is still a big step up from the Paperwhite.
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The Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019) doesn’t follow the mini-tablet design of most ereaders – one half of the device is noticeable thicker than the other, which gives you a ridge down the back so that it’s easier to hold (in theory).
In practice, we found the ridge wasn’t quite thick enough to offer a comfortable hold – at 8.4mm thick, it’s only 5mm thicker than the 3.4mm of the main body, which doesn’t provide a deep enough ridge to really get your fingers into. We found the Kindle Oasis a little hard to hold when only using this ridge, so we wouldn’t recommend it depending on what position you like to sit in to read.
The Kindle Oasis (2019)’s other dimensions are 159 x 141mm, so it wouldn’t be big compared to a tablet, but its display is bigger than those of the other Kindles – more on the display later.
One of the more ‘premium’ features of the device is the metal build, which you won’t find in other Kindles. This makes it feel more hardy, which offsets the fact the 3.4mm part of the device, and its relatively lightweight of 188g, can make it feel a little delicate – the overall effect is a device the looks and feels sleek.
The device is also water resistant, with its IPX8 rating meaning that in theory it can survive being immersed in two metres of water for a whole hour. We can’t imagine that you’d want to take it underwater for that long, but it’ll certainly be fine if you accidentally drop it in the bath while reading, or get it splashed here and there.
Something a little less premium is the micro USB charging port, as most tablets and smartphones have done away with it in favor of USB-C, which is faster for charging. You’re not going to be using that much power with an ereader, so it’s not a huge issue, but we could do without the inconvenience of swapping out the charging cables we use for the rest of our devices.
There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack either, nor loudspeakers, so if you want to listen to audiobooks you’re going to need to use Bluetooth headphones or speakers.
There are two buttons on the right of the Kindle Oasis, used for skipping forward or backwards through pages. It felt a lot more snappy using these to turn pages than touching the screen, due both to the fact they’re in positions that fall naturally under the fingers, and also because pages turned quicker when we pressed the buttons than when we touched the screen.
There were occasions, however, when the buttons didn’t register our touch, and other times they did but the device stuttered before the next page loaded, prompting us to press again then accidentally skip pages. This often happened when reading books that were complicated in terms of their layout and design, like comic books and our own PDFs, and we didn’t notice it as much for text-based books.
It’s worth noting that for the most part, the design is exactly the same as the previous generation of Kindle Oasis, and that ereader costs quite a bit less now.
The display is where you’re seeing the main improvements on the Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019), as there are quite a few additions and changes that improve its quality, and the reading experience.
The display is 7 inches diagonally, which is bigger than the 6-inch screens in the Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite, so you can fit more words or comic book frames on the screen at once, and it’s also higher quality, with 300 pixels per inch, so content looks good too.
This screen is backlit by 25 LEDs, a big jump over the 12 LEDs in the 2017 Kindle Oasis, and you can see the different – max brightness is really high, so you can read in a variety of situations, and there’s better contrast between light and dark, which makes comic books in particular more vivid.
The brightness can be changed through the easily-accessible settings menu, but there’s also the option to have it automatically change depending on your environment, as on many smartphones.
It’s in the settings menu that you’ll find another of the Kindle Oasis’ big new features, in the form of the ‘warmness’ light setting. This gives the display an orange hue, which makes it more comfortable to look at during night-time reading, and protects your eyes over long reading binges.
The feature is primarily designed to make it more comfortable to read at night, but we also found that when we used it on a low setting we could read more easily in daylight. There’s not a huge range when you change the warmth, but it’s an appreciated upgrade anyway.
The refresh rate of the screen is appropriate – being an ereader display, you’re not seeing as snappy a refresh as on a smartphone screen, but it was far from slow. When zooming into parts of a document we could see the zoom increments, and this made it easier to zoom to the right part of the file.