Amazon Kindle Oasis (2017) review: The bigger, better e-reader is now available in “champagne gold”
Say one thing about Amazon, it knows how to build an e-reader. Take the new Kindle Oasis: it’s an update to a product that was best in its class in 2016 – a product so good it was difficult to see how the company could improve it.
In fact, my opinion at the time was that Amazon had, in the original Oasis, achieved something close to perfection in e-reader form and I’d have understood perfectly if Amazon had chosen to leave well enough alone. In my eyes it would still be the best e-reader around now had Amazon not launched a new model; in fact, I hadn’t expected it to update it for some time to come.
Somehow, though, Amazon has made its new flagship Kindle even better than the original – and the Kindle Oasis (2017) is no mild update. It’s an across-the-board revamp, with a larger 7in display, better battery life, water resistance and one brand-new killer feature: support for Audible audiobook playback. What’s more, Amazon recently refreshed the line-up further by adding a “champagne gold” model to its range. It comes with the same specifications as those reviewed below, and offers 32GB storage, Wi-Fi and an IPX8 waterproof rating.
The champagne gold Kindle Oasis is available to pre-order from 13 March for £259.99 and orders will start shipping on 22 March. Buy the champagne gold Kindle Oasis from Amazon.
Amazon Kindle Oasis (2017) review: Key features and design
Let’s tackle the redesign first, though, because that’s the most visually obvious change. The good news is that, despite the larger screen, Amazon has chosen to stick with much of what made the original Oasis so good.
The new model is still incredibly thin and light. It’s still wedge-shaped with a step at the rear that creates a handy grip for holding the reader one-handed and it still has a pair of physical buttons on the front, alongside that that slightly odd, offset screen.
What’s different about the design of the new Oasis is the finish. Where last year’s model was simply black, with a rubberised inlay adorning the rear for extra grip, the new one is all smooth, gun-metal aluminium, adding a welcome extra touch of luxury.
In general, it’s an improvement, but there are a couple of things to bear in mind. First, its a little slippery without one of the magnetic flip cases and, second, if you prefer to hold your e-reader by wrapping your fingers around both edges, the 141mm-wide chassis might prove a bit of a stretch.
READ NEXT: Amazon Kindle Oasis (2016) review[gallery:8]
Still, if you manage to fumble the new Kindle Oasis and drop it in the bath, it should survive because the e-reader’s other big new feature is that it’s waterproof and rated to the IPX8 standard. Amazon’s definition of this, by the way, is that it’ll survive complete immersion in up to 2m of water for 60 minutes. By way of explanation, the “8” designation of the IP water-resistant standard is a bit of a moving feast and typically defined by the standards body in agreement with the manufacturer, which is why the definitions vary from product to product.
That isn’t the end of the new Oasis’ refinements, though. The screen is the largest ever on an Amazon Kindle e-reader. It measures 7in across the diagonal, which means more text on-screen and less frequent page turns and it presents text as sharply as you could possibly want. The pixel density is 300ppi – the same as last year’s Oasis – but that’s okay with me. From normal reading distances, there’s no visual evidence of pixellated edges at all.
Elsewhere, there’s a front light for reading in dark or dingy conditions – just like all Kindles apart from the basic £60 model – but this time there’s an ambient light sensor, a feature missing from the original Oasis. Essentially, this means it will adjust the intensity of the front light according to how bright or dark the ambient conditions are. That’s not all, though. Amazon has also added a couple of extra LEDs for a more even lighting effect. This year’s Oasis has 12 LEDs to last year’s ten.[gallery:5]
If you prefer to swipe instead of click buttons, the screen remains touch-sensitive and there’s an accelerometer as well that rotates the screen automatically when you switch hands and flip the screen upside down. Battery life should be better, too; there’s no facility to add a battery cover this time around, but a larger power pack inside the case ensures the Oasis should last up to six weeks on a single charge, while last year’s Oasis was limited to a mere two without its case.
Amazon Kindle Oasis review: Audible support
The Oasis’ big new feature, however, is the ability to play your Audible titles via Bluetooth. If you own both ebook and audiobook editions you can switch between them, picking up on one where you left off on the other.
And it works pretty well, too. Assuming you own both audiobook and ebook editions of a book – you simply tap the top portion of the touchscreen to activate the context menu, look for the headphone button in the bottom right corner and tap to switch. At this point, the Oasis will switch over or start to download the audio file; it’s even possible to kick off pairing your Bluetooth headphones or speakers at this point if you haven’t done so already.
It all works rather elegantly but there are a couple of things to bear in mind here. First, audiobooks occupy a lot more space than regular, even though the Oasis appears to be limited to the lower quality Standard audio file format. I downloaded the 94-chapter, 28-hour The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and it occupied just short of half a gigabyte; if you’ve chosen the Wi-Fi only 8GB model, you’re going to have to manage your storage pretty carefully. There’s no microSD expansion slot.
Second, even if you’ve spent extra on the 4G model, you’ll only be able to download audiobooks via Wi-Fi. And, third, given how much work has clearly gone into the feature, it’s somewhat surprising that Amazon isn’t yet making an effort to tie the two services together more closely: it’s no easier, or cheaper, to buy an ebook at the same time as an Audible book on the Oasis than it is any other way – aside from the fact that you can browse and purchase Audible titles on the Oasis just as you can ebooks.
Finally, it’s worth taking note of the fact that there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack on the Kindle Oasis (2017) or a built-in speaker – you’re limited to Bluetooth only. Although that seems to be the way things are going right now it’s still a pity as there’s clearly plenty of space in the chassis to squeeze one in.[gallery:2]
So not perfect, then, but Audible sync is still a handy feature to have, particularly if you drive a lot for work and like to have something other than brainless radio or music to occupy the mind.
Amazon Kindle Oasis review: Verdict
In fact, despite the caveats surrounding the Audible integration, Amazon’s latest luxury e-reader is pretty much a shoe-in for an award with improved hardware, software and design over the previous Kindle Oasis. It’s now pretty much the perfect e-reader and yet Amazon has still managed to deliver one last surprise.
Not only is it superior to its predecessor from both a hardware and software point of view, at £229 the 2017 Kindle Oasis is also cheaper than the original, and that means it’s an easy recommendation. Even if you don’t see yourself using the audiobook sync all that often, this is now the best e-reader money can buy.