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Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019) review: the closest thing to reading on paper

I reviewed the second-generation Kindle Oasis in 2017, and at the time, I thought it was pretty much the perfect e-reader. Two years later, the Oasis’ ergonomically designed hand grip, physical page-turn buttons, auto-rotating screen and waterproof build are still hard to beat. Which is probably why Amazon didn’t make many changes to its latest Oasis, adding just one notable new feature – an adjustable warm light. To find out if this alone is reason enough to upgrade, I’ve been using the new Oasis for the past couple of weeks.

Let me start with the defining feature of the new Oasis – the warm light. In layman’s terms, a warm light is a yellow light, and on the Oasis, this lets you turn your screen yellow. Warm lighting has two major benefits. First, it makes the display more comfortable to view in the dark, causing less eye strain. And second, it brings the display closer to the colour of paper – so much so in fact, that I used warm lighting even during the day.

In order to add warm lighting, the new Kindle Oasis makes use of a total of 25 LEDs, 12 white and 13 amber. In comparison, the previous Oasis has just 12 white LEDs. In the dropdown settings menu, you’ll now see two sliders – one for brightness and one for warmth. The latter lets you adjust the level of warm lighting, ranging from mild yellow to very yellow. Apart from adjusting the warmth manually, you can also schedule the warm light to turn on and off at specific times, as well as configure the warmth level. There’s also an option to let the warmth gradually change with sunset and sunrise. I didn’t realise how much of a difference warm lighting made until I used the new Oasis. On the previous-gen model, I reduced the brightness to make it easier to read at night, but this still caused my eyes to hurt after longer reading sessions. The warm lighting is much easier on the eyes, sort of like the night mode you find on many phones these days.

Apart from the warm lighting feature, the new Oasis is pretty much identical to its predecessor. You get the same 7-inch anti-glare display with a 300ppi resolution, and a waterproof rating of IPX8, which ensures it can safely survive spills, and a day at the pool or beach. The Oasis is the only Kindle with physical page turn buttons, which make it much easier to navigate and read one-handed. The display auto-rotates so you can read with either your right or left hand, and you have an option to reverse the page turn buttons in settings. Amazon says the newer Oasis offers faster page turns, but when I compared it to the older model, I found the difference to be negligible.

The software you get is the same across all Kindles, although Oasis models let you invert colours, sort of like a system-wide dark mode. The other software features are universal, such as Whispersync to keep your book synced to the last-read page on any Kindle device or app, Goodreads integration, highlights, X-ray, and customisable page layouts, themes and fonts.

The new Kindle Oasis is available in 8GB and 32GB versions as before, although this time, the cellular model offers free 4G instead of free 3G. The colour options include Graphite and Champagne Gold, and you can also choose from a range of official fabric cases which are water-safe too.

Verdict

Given that Amazon has launched a new Oasis after a two-year gap, I was hoping it would be more of an upgrade. A Type-C charging port, narrower bezels and Audible support (still not available in India) are all features I would expect from a flagship Kindle, not to mention improved performance – navigating the UI is still painfully slow.

That said, the new Oasis is no slouch, and the warm lighting is a significant addition. Not only does it improve the experience of night-time reading, but it also brings the colour tone of the display as close to paper as it can get.

The Kindle Oasis is priced at Rs 21,999 for the 8GB Wi-Fi model, and Rs 24,999 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model. The top-end 32GB Wi-Fi + 4G model is priced at Rs 28,999. At these prices, the new Oasis caters to a very specific audience – those who want the absolute best e-reading experience, and don’t mind spending a lot to get it. For everyone else though, I would still recommend the new Paperwhite, which offers nearly all the Oasis features at half the price.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works:

  • Adjustable warm light
  • Waterproof
  • Now comes in a 4G variant

What doesn’t:

  • No Type-C port
  • Audible support still missing in India
  • Not much of an upgrade over previous Oasis
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Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

Ketaki has 10 years experience writing on tech, having worked at the Hindu Business Line and 91mobiles earlier. When she's not editing copies or reviewing the latest gadgets, she spends her time binge-watching Netflix and reading fantasy fiction.