Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis is (finally) waterproof and a little less expensive


Enlarge / Still looks Kindle-ish.

Amazon

Amazon launched a revamped version of its Kindle Oasis e-reader on Wednesday. The new device will remain the highest-end model in Amazon’s popular Kindle series, but it comes with a host of tweaks compared to the previous Oasis, which launched in early 2016.

The reader now has a 7-inch e-ink display, a full inch larger than its predecessor. Amazon says that display will still sport 300 pixels per inch, so text should be just as sharp as before.

Perhaps the most welcome news for Kindle diehards is that the new Oasis is waterproof. Amazon says the device is IPX8 rated, which means it should survive being dunked in more than two meters of water for up to 60 minutes. Though it’s lamentable that such waterproofing is still limited to Amazon’s priciest Kindle, the addition is long overdue; competing manufacturers like Kobo have sold waterproof e-readers for years now.

The new Oasis retains the same general ergonomics as the last model: there’s a big, asymmetrical bezel on one side, complete with dedicated page-turning buttons, and a large hump accompanying it around the back. It’s a device made explicitly for one-handed use, and we dug how it was put together last year.

Amazon says the new model trades last year’s plastic for a mostly aluminum finish, though, so it may feel a little more premium. The device has become a little bit heavier in the process, jumping from 131 grams to 194 grams, but Amazon says it still measures a slim 3.4mm at its thinnest point.

The first Oasis sacrificed a bit of battery life to obtain that thin design—relative to other Kindles, at least—but Amazon tried to work around that by pairing the device with a detachable charging case. Here, the company is scaling the case concept back. It’ll still sell various covers that double as stands (priced at $45, with leather covers priced at $60), but an Amazon spokesperson says the new Oasis has a higher-capacity battery that is projected to get up to six weeks of reading time on a charge. Older Oasis covers will not work with the new device.

The new Kindle Oasis has an aluminum back. Sadly, it also uses an old micro-USB port.
Enlarge / The new Kindle Oasis has an aluminum back. Sadly, it also uses an old micro-USB port.

Amazon

Amazon says the new Oasis comes with fast-charging support, too. It didn’t specify a standard, noting only that the device will charge from empty to full within two hours. That said, don’t expect the new device to last quite as long on its own as a more basic Kindle.

The device itself should also be a bit faster than before—an Amazon spokesperson said the new model runs on a dual-core 1GHz NXP i.MX7D processor, up from the Cortex-A9 chip in the last Oasis. The new Oasis also comes with ambient light sensors, which were strangely missing from the last model but should now allow the reader’s backlight to automatically adjust to your surroundings.

All of this comes with the usual Kindle store and software. There’s still no support for open-source EPUB files, and the company’s Alexa assistant is still nowhere to be found, but Amazon’s e-book platform remains massive either way.

The big feature the company is touting is the ability to play audiobooks from the device through its Audible app. Amazon says that will arrive through a software update when the new Oasis ships, but since the reader doesn’t have a headphone jack or built-in speakers, you’ll have to hook it up to a Bluetooth device to take advantage of the new functionality. Amazon says the Kindle (2016) and past Oasis will get this update as well; the popular Kindle Paperwhite will not, since it doesn’t support Bluetooth.

The Oasis is still pricey for an e-reader, but a little less so than before. The device now starts at $250 for a model with 8GB of storage, with a 32GB model available for $280 and a model that adds cellular connectivity available for $350. The new reader is up for pre-order today and will start shipping on October 31. The previous Kindle Oasis started at $289 for 4GB of storage.

That’s still a good chunk of change for a device that’s only made for one thing. The $120 Kindle Paperwhite will likely remain the most sensible buy for most people who’re still interested in an e-reader in 2017, but it’s aging, so the new Oasis could make more sense as a luxury gadget for book lovers who use a Kindle often and just want the nicest thing possible. The size boost looks to be Amazon’s way of differentiating the Kindle in a world where large-screen smartphones are becoming the norm, and the addition of waterproofing should only be a good thing. We’ll test the new Kindle Oasis to see if it can better justify its asking price later this month.

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