PROS / The Kindle Oasis has a comfortable and innovative design.
CONS / The Oasis doesn't have the strongest value compared to other Kindles.
VERDICT / The Amazon Kindle Oasis offers peak eBook reading performance at a similarly premium price tag.
Compared to most home electronics, eBook readers occupy a narrow niche. While devices like smartphones and tablets are becoming more and more versatile like Swiss Army knives, eBook readers are unabashed single-task devices: You only use them to read. Even though eReaders face competition from reading apps on tablets, they have many strengths, including budget pricing – your eBook reader might only be good at one thing, but it doesn’t cost much.
Within this context, the Amazon Kindle Oasis is a notable counter to past eBook readers. It’s essentially a product in a budget market that’s built and priced for high-end users. While the Oasis doesn’t perfectly balance these opposing needs, its stellar hardware and software earn it our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
Readability & Display
The Oasis’ display carries over much of what's worked on past Kindles. The reading interface is cleanly laid out, and it is easy to browse through Amazon's menu screens and your eBook library. As with most eBook readers, the Oasis doesn’t have the processing speed and responsiveness of a full tablet, but functions like page scrolling and dictionary searching work reasonably quickly. You can also highlight and share passages.
The eReader is built around a stellar 6-inch, 1448 x 1072-pixel display. In our hands-on testing, the screen rendered text and greyscale images well, and like most 300 dots per inch displays, its fidelity was excellent and comparable to printed ink.
As strong as the Oasis' screen and smaller internal improvements, such as additional LEDs for upgraded brightness consistency, are, the value gap between the Oasis and other midrange Kindles isn't clear. For instance, the Oasis, Kindle Voyage and Kindle Paperwhite all use 6-inch, 1448 x 1072-pixel displays. The incremental improvements in the Oasis technically make its display the best within the Kindle family, but considering the hefty price difference between all three higher-end eReaders, the value for the Oasis is more difficult to discern.
Design & Portability
Along with a weight of only 4.6 pounds, the compact eReader has dimensions of 5.6 x 4.8 x 0.13 to 0.33 inches – the edge of the Kindle tapers off, and the wider section acts as a makeshift grip. The slanted edge also magnetically locks into an included combo leather case and battery that provides extra protection and battery life for the Oasis. The case can be purchased in three different colors during the checkout process.
Externally, the Oasis' somewhat pedestrian appearance is a slight downside. While its build quality is sturdy, its premium price tag makes its black plastic body and extended bezel not especially visually striking. The bezel is around 0.75 inches on the right side – which houses two buttons for physical page scrolling – and 0.375 inches on the left.
Still, the Oasis' distinctive design is a notable strength for the eReader. Unlike a lot of eBook readers, it considers its audience and isn't simply a repurposed and shrunken tablet. With its tapered edge and compact dimensions, it feels similar to an actual book when you hold it in your hand.
Elsewhere, the Oasis has specifications in line with comparable eBook readers. Along with a manufacturer-rated battery life of around 28 days – this varies depending on factors like daily use and the brightness level of the Oasis' display – support for mobile connectivity can be added during the checkout process for an additional fee. With this feature, you can connect the Oasis to cellular data networks and download books without needing a Wi-Fi connection.
As with past Kindles, the Oasis features the typical suite of Amazon software and content offerings. Through Amazon's Kindle store, you can purchase books from a number of popular authors. Subscription options for major and local newspapers like The Los Angeles Times and Dallas Morning News are available. If your local library offers eBook support, you can also borrow books through its local catalog on the Kindle.
Help & Support
By default, the Oasis comes with a one-year warranty from Amazon. The manufacturer also offers support through several channels, including social media, phone agents and live chat. Amazon's support section is straightforward and easy to navigate, covering areas like introductory tutorials and FAQs for troubleshooting.
In a vacuum, it's easy to see why the Kindle Oasis earns its best-in-class marks. With a stellar design and equally excellent screen, the Oasis exceeds hardware and software expectations for most eBook readers. But at the same time, the eReader's price tag is likely a hurdle for most prospective buyers. Even with its strengths, a premium single-use device makes a tough proposition for users used to budget-friendly competitors. Still, if cost isn't an issue, the Oasis' specifications easily make it one of the best eBook readers on the market.