E-ink displays continue to fascinate me. With how they replicate the look of paper, they’re perfect for outdoor reading, since the sun won’t cause any glare on the screen, unlike a cell phone, which is basically impossible to read in the sunlight. However, there was one element of nature that e-readers don’t tend to fair well with: water. If you wanted to take a Kindle out to the beach or the pool, you’d have to toss it in a Ziploc bag, which isn’t the most elegant solution. Now it’s time to throw that Ziploc bag away. It’s taken 9 years, but Amazon has finally fixed that problem with the Kindle Oasis.
The new 2nd-generation Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s first waterproof Kindle, rated at IPX8, meaning it can withstand immersion in 2 meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes.
Besides the waterproofing, this upgraded Oasis actually has a lot of firsts for a Kindle, including the first 7-inch screen, the first all-metal aluminum body, and the first Kindle with Audible integration.
The 7-inch E-ink display is 1-inch larger than the standard 6-inch Kindle screen, allowing it to display 30 percent more text than other models. While they still haven’t figured out a colored e-ink screen, the 300 PPM resolution screen produces very sharp text and 16 levels of grayscale. The screen is also lit with an adaptive 12-LED front light that automatically adjusts the brightness based on your surroundings. I always appreciate front lights because they point the light at the display instead of beaming the rays directly into your eyeballs like standard backlit displays. Again, it’s perfect for reading.
You can use the touchscreen for normal screen swiping gestures to turn the digital book pages, but the Oasis thankfully also has 2 physical page turning buttons to the side of its enlarged bezel. The display is set off to the side to accommodate these buttons, and the bezel actually makes it easier to hold the Kindle for one-handed reading.
The Kindle Oasis is 3.4 millimeters thin, with the exception of the slight bulge underneath the page turning buttons, which houses the battery (and makes for a better one-handed grip on the device). Another great feature of E-ink displays is the incredible battery life. The Kindle Oasis’s battery can last up to 6 weeks before needing to be recharged.
The Audible integration allows you to connect the Kindle Oasis with an Audible account to listen to audiobooks via Bluetooth (unfortunately, there isn’t a headphone jack, nor speakers on the device itself). If you happen to own both the text and audio versions of a book, the Oasis allows you to easily switch between the two. Amazon will also be adding Audible integration to the regular Kindle through a software update.
The waterproofing, the sturdy metal body, and larger screen make the Kindle Oasis a premium device, and it’s priced as such. It starts at $250 for the 8 GB Wi-Fi model with “Special Offers” (which makes the device cheaper by displaying ads on the home screen). This is actually $40 cheaper than the previous Oasis. You can upgrade to a 32 GB model and add cellular connectivity at a higher price point. The fully-upgraded model will go for around $350.
Amazon will begin shipping the new Kindle Oasis on October 31.