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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis goes for the thick end of the wedge

kindle-oasis

Have you ever felt that you were thirsting in a desert for something to read? Perhaps you should reach for…an Oasis.

Yep, Amazon’s newest version of the venerable e-reader is—as leaks earlier this week predicted—the Kindle Oasis. The major changes here are in the form factor: instead of the earlier version’s tablet shape, the Oasis is more of a wedge, with a bulge on one side intended to make it more ergonomic to hold. (You can do so with either the left or right hand, and the Kindle’s screen will rotate to accommodate.) Backward and forward page-turning is done either by the touch screen or by actual physical buttons on the side with the larger bezel.

kindle-oasis-profile
The slim profile of the new Kindle Oasis

Amazon calls the latest version “the thinnest and lightest Kindle ever”; frankly, I just got a Paperwhite last week, which already feels pretty darn light, but the Wi-Fi-only version of the Oasis is 4.6 oz, compared to the 7.2 oz of the Paperwhite, so there you go.

Granted, you lose out on some of that weight-shedding by attaching the new included battery cover, which plugs into the Oasis and provides battery life on the order of months. (Good thing, too: because of how small the Oasis is, its internal battery lasts only about two weeks, according to Engadget.) It’s a bit Smart Cover like, right down to magnetic closures that snap it closed, automatically putting the Oasis to sleep. But it also weighs 3.8 oz on its own, bringing the whole shebang to 8.4 oz, or heavier than pretty much any of the previous models.

There’s also a new version of the E-Ink screen, though it retains the same 300 dpi as before; it does, however, have 10 redesigned LEDs for the backlight, up from the 6 on the Voyage and the 4 on the Paperwhite. That screen is thin, too: equivalent to a sheet of aluminum foil, but with a “chemically-reinforced” glass cover.

All of this comes at a price, naturally: $290. That’s $90 more than the next highest Kindle, the $199 Voyage, and $170 more than the Paperwhite, which is considered by many the e-reader to beat. Despite the improvements, the Oasis is still a single-function device, and in this day and age it remains to be seen whether consumers will pay a premium for an e-reader, no matter how fancy it is.

Amazon’s major competitor is not really Apple—I don’t think most folks are trying to choose between a Kindle and an iPad—but itself. Sure, it keeps making its e-readers better and better, but is the $290 Oasis really that much superior to the Paperwhite I just bought? I’m not particularly feeling any buyer’s remorse over that one.

See more Kindle coverage.

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]