Over the last few years, the e-reader market has struggled to meet the expectations of book lovers. Innovations have been rare, there have been few differentiating factors between devices, and e-readers have been unable to match up to the original book-reading experience. Figures from Pew Research reveal that e-reader ownership dropped from 32 per cent in 2014 to 19 per cent in 2015, indicating that enthusiasts could have either moved to other alternatives or returned to the printed word. Amazon’s latest offering, the Kindle Oasis, has made its debut in this market.
What’s good: One of the biggest hurdles that e-readers have had to overcome is clunky design, which is often a hindrance when it comes to the actual act of reading. This one comes closest to overcoming that obstacle. Significantly thinner than Kindle’s earlier models - 3.6mm at its thinnest point – it is well balanced while reading, and light enough (about 130gm) to hold up at a stretch. The other plus is its size: big enough to read without troubling the eyes, but small enough to be carried in a handbag or pulled out for a quick read during a train or bus commute.
The 6inch screen, with high-resolution 300 ppi display, is sharp. The words appear crisp, and, even in sunlight, there is little to no glare. Its new hibernation mode minimises power consumption when the Kindle is inactive, thus ensuring that battery life is extended to its fullest capacity. And, in what we consider one of its most useful features, the device automatically rotates the page orientation depending on whether the reader is holding it in the left or right hand.
What’s bad: One of the claims made is that the device offers the “longest Kindle battery life”. It is supposed to last for months, especially when used with the “leather charging cover”. Ours lasted precisely for 14 days. That is when we happened to read the disclaimer that we had initially missed. It read, “A single charge lasts up to eight weeks, based on half an hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10. Battery life will vary based on light and wireless usage (sic).” Oh, well.
Also, while Amazon may claim to offer a “massive book selection”, “over 30,000 free e-books” and “over 5,00,000 ebooks at Rs 99 or less” that are compatible with its e-readers, no one wants to read most of these titles. Even Kindle Unlimited (a service that allows users to read an unlimited number of books for a flat monthly fee) is a disappointment in terms of the choices it offers in India. In an era where technologically adept readers can easily get titles from alternative sources, it is surprising that this issue hasn’t been addressed yet. Also, with a price range that starts at Rs 24,000, the device is expensive for an e-reader.
Verdict: It probably is the best Kindle yet, one that comes closest to offering a comfortable reading experience and making it a winning proposition. However, the price and selection of titles might make you think twice.
At a glance:
What: Kindle Oasis
Quick specs: 6-inch screen, high-resolution 300ppi display, around 130gm
Best buy: Rs 23,999 (for Wi-Fi) and Rs 27,999 (for Wi-Fi + 3G) on Amazon.in
USP: Kindle’s thinnest and lightest model till date