Thoughts Kindle Oasis (2nd Generation)

I recently took advantage of the 25% off coupon when you trade in a kindle and bought a Kindle Oasis (2nd Generation) on behalf of a friend. Because the coupon was about to expire and my friend was out of the country, and because she is gracious, I have spent the last six weeks using both the new Kindle Oasis and my previous Kindle Oasis. In the end, I am very mixed about whether I would recommend the 1st or 2nd generation Oasis. Overall, I like both, but I think I would like elements of each to be combined.

Update: Even though this is almost a year old, I bought my own Kindle Oasis 2 a couple of months ago when the Kindle Oasis 3 was released, and Amazon was clearing stock with a sale. I chose to get the sale price instead of the minor updates of the Kindle Oasis 3. But my impressions about the Oasis 2 are still roughly the same. I love the larger screen and the waterproofing. I use my Oasis 1 to carry around with me because the Oasis 2 will not fit in any of my pockets. It is a luxury to keep and use two kindles. But I am still split on the benefits of both.

Screen and Weight

The Kindle Oasis 2 the first time in years that Amazon has released anything other than a six-inch screen. That extra inch of screen space matters. Here are two pictures of the text of the Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander with the same size font to illustrate the difference that the extra screen space makes. At this font size, there are approximately six additional lines of text with the larger screen of the Kindle Oasis 2.

IMG 1936

The additional screen size which I like comes with additional weight, which I do not like. According to my scale, the Kindle Oasis 1 is 129 grams without the magnetic battery cover and 235 grams with the cover. The Kindle Oasis 2 does not come with a cover at all, and there is not an option for a battery cover, and it weighs 192 grams. For context, my iPhone 6S with a case weights 193 grams.

One of the things I most like about the Kindle Oasis 1 is that without the case, it feels almost weightless. The Kindle Oasis 2 does not feel weightless. With the additional weight and size, I find that I am often leaning it on something as I read. 192 grams is certainly not heavy, but I notice the difference when I go between the two devices.

But with the additional weight comes a larger internal battery. The internal battery of the Kindle Oasis 1 is too short. Most of the time, it only lasts a few days. With the battery cover the Kindle Oasis 1 and the Kindle Oasis 2 (without an external battery) both last one to three weeks depending on use.

Best New Feature

The best new feature of the Kindle Oasis 2 is waterproofing. I have wanted waterproofing for a while. I had a waterproof case for my 2009 Kindle 2 that I loved. The case also was floating, which made it great for use in a pool or the ocean. The Kindle Oasis does not float (to make it float I cover the back in foam tape). However, you can turn off the touch screen. I also had an aftermarket Kindle Paperwhite that was waterproof. But because the Paperwhite is touchscreen-only (no page turn buttons), the waterproofing was not helpful it there was any splashing because of accidental page turns.

If your use of the Oasis around water is primarily in a bathtub, hot tub or beside the pool, it should be great.

Audiobooks and Bluetooth

With the release of the Kindle Oasis 2, Amazon updated the operating system, and both generations now have the option to connect a Bluetooth speaker for audiobooks. I do not like the implementation of audiobooks on the Kindle Oasis. If you are in a Kindle app on the iPhone, iPad, or another tablet, you can have the Kindle app play the audiobook while at the same time seeing the text of the ebook. Amazon calls this immersion reading. It can be helpful for children that are following along with the text, but I use it most often because I want to highlight passages of a book.

The Kindle Oasis and other editions of the eink Kindle that have audiobook capabilities make you choose either the print or the audio. Immersion reading is not an option. You can stop the audio, switch to the ebook, and then highlight the passage and then revert to the audiobook. But that is a pain. In general, while I have tried audiobooks on the Kindle Oasis, I prefer using my iPhone if I am doing immersion reading or Apple Watch and my AirPods if I am just listening to the audiobook.

Bluetooth cannot do anything else. You cannot load other format audiobooks or music, and you cannot transfer files or create other connections with the Bluetooth.

What I Do Not Like

I did not think I would miss the cover, but I do. Most of the time that I had my Paperwhite, I did not use a cover. And I seriously considered selling the battery cover for the Kindle Oasis 1 because I almost always read it without the cover. But the Kindle Oasis 2 is slippery. It has a metal backing instead of a plastic back. That metal is both more slippery than the plastic and also seems more fragile. There are several low-cost covers, and I bought one from a third party.

The edges are also slightly sharp. It will not cut you, but they are just sharp enough not to be entirely comfortable holding it along with the additional weight. (Note: the second one I purchased for myself is not as sharp.)

The sheen of both Kindle Oasis screens is not my favorite. I am not sure what I want, but it feels like the screens should be more matte and less glossy. Fingerprints are very visible, and glare from sunlight or overhead lights can be very bad. Much of the point of eink screens is that they are perfect in sunlight and have lower eye strain than LCD screens. With the inability to completely turn off the front light and glossier glass on the screens than I think they should have, they are minimizing their advantage over tablets. (Note: On my personal kindle I have a screen protector which has helped with the glare and protects the screen from being dropped or scratched.)

The larger screen also means that the device is larger. The Kindle Oasis 1 is tiny. I could slip it into almost every pair of pants or shorts that I own (either back pockets of most jeans, some front pockets of dress pants and most pockets on shorts.) The Kindle Oasis 2 fit in only in some of my side pockets of cargo shorts and almost nothing else. That may account for at least part of my concern about damaging the Kindle 2; it has to be carried or put in a bag instead of a pocket.

Both Oasis page turn buttons have just a slight clicking which I wish were gone. I think the Oasis 2 might have a slightly louder click, but if it is, it is a slight difference.

Overall

Honestly, if I were offered the Kindle Oasis 1 or 2, I am not sure which I would pick. The lighter weight and smaller overall size of the Kindle Oasis 1 probably matters more for the way I use my kindle regularly. It is more natural to throw in a pocket or purse, and the built-in case is convenient protection, even if I do not like the battery case that much. But right now, you cannot get refurbished Kindle Oasis 1, and a new Kindle Oasis 1 is $289.99. So I would not buy a Kindle Oasis 1 at this price.

The Kindle Oasis 2’s larger screen size is nice. Larger screens mean less page turns. Waterproofing is excellent, but I mostly want waterproofing to use while floating in the pool or ocean, and that requires some ingenuity to make work. The light might be slightly better on the 2, but only slightly.  If you need large print, the larger physical size of the screen would probably make the Oasis a better choice than either then Kindle Oasis 1 or other kindles.

With both Kindle Oasis devices, you will get an excellent eink screen, even lighting, and a speedy processor. Both feel like they take just a hair too long to turn on and off, but I think that is more about my expectations based on my computer and iPhone than any problem with Kindles themselves. It is hard to imagine that 192 grams is heavy, although I do like the larger screen. But it was hard to get used to the heavier weight.

The price for both is high, even if the Kindle Oasis 2 is cheaper than the Kindle Oasis 1 was initially. You can buy 2 Kindle Paperwhites for the cost of the cheapest Kindle Oasis 2. And Paperwhites go on sale regularly, while the Oasis 2 does not. If you have an old Kindle, or you are willing to buy one somewhere, you can trade it at Amazon and get a minimum of $5, even if not working, and a 25% off coupon. That 25% off coupon is $60-90 off a Kindle Oasis 2 depending on configuration.

My Advice

If you have a Kindle Oasis 1, there is no reason to upgrade unless you want a waterproof Kindle. And even then, I would recommend just using a ziplock bag in the bath instead.

If you have a Paperwhite, the screen is probably not noticeably different, especially if you have a Paperwhite 2 or 3. The main reason I think the Oasis is better is the page turn buttons. The Oasis 2 is lighter than the Paperwhite despite its larger screen. The Kindle Oasis 2 is the same height and just a little bit wider than the Paperwhite but had a larger screen.

If you have a Basic Kindle, one without a light, you probably would appreciate the sharper screen, the front lighting, and the faster processor.

If you do not have good vision and use the large fonts, the additional screen space may make the extra price for the Oasis 2 worth it.

BUT, kindle devices have not radically changed since 2007 when they were initially introduced. The screens are sharper. The lighting was a great addition. The touch screen allow Amazon to make the devices smaller and eliminate the keyboard. Waterproofing is a natural next step. But while print on Kindles are sharper and the background is whiter and the fonts are darker so that it does look more like paper with each additional generation, if you are happy with the kindle you have, you probably do not need to upgrade.

Kindles have dropped in price since they were initially released. The Kindle Paperwhite is probably the best overall Kindle for price that has been released. There are rumors of a new Kindle Paperwhite being announced on Oct 17 at an announced Amazon event. (It was and it was waterproof)

The Kindle Oasis is great, and I am glad that I have one, but it is a luxury device that is not necessary for most people.

Currently available eink Kindles along with their regular price

  • Basic Kindle – $79.99 (wifi only) (Get the refurbished Paperwhite instead of this)
  • Kindle Paperwhite – $119.99 (wifi only) up to $189.99 with cellular data.
  • Kindle Oasis 2 – $249.99 (wifi, 8GB) up to $349.99 with Celluar data and 32 GB and no ads.

Refurbished models are available occasionally – Note: If you have a kindle that you can trade in, the 25% off coupon usually is a better deal than the refurbished price. But I generally recommend refurbished Kindles and have bought several.

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