Thursday, April 14, 2016

The new KINDLE OASIS arrives and it's a luxury/premium model. What are the added features? Physical page-turn buttons, lightness, a cover that charges the Kindle - giving 'months' per charge, enhanced page consistency. (UK, Canada, Int'l also) UPDATED Apr 16-17 with added info.

So, the new Kindle Oasis is almost here.

This luxury edition item with charging case
will be released on April 27, 2016.
(UK: here,  Canada: here, Int'l: here)

What's new? (Also see Updated info.)
For one thing, physical, dedicated page turn buttons are back !

The nicely-sized 'handgrip' side is wider and thicker, while the other side of the Oasis is slimmer.

  HOWEVER, when you want to hold it with the other hand, you can just turn it around and the Oasis will auto-rotate the page orientation to match.

Amazon claims that "the tapered, ergonomic handgrip shifts the center of gravity to your palm, to rest in your hand like the spine of a book. Perfectly balanced for one-handed reading,"

It's now, overall, both thinner and lighter than previous Kindles.

Almost an inch shorter, it's a bit wider to get a more secure handgrip, and when you measure the thinness against earlier models, the NON-page-turn buttons side is at least twice as thin, which is hard to believe.

Oasis (UK: here, Canada: here, Int'l: here) comes with a removable leather charging cover included, which "boosts battery to last months."  Color options are black, merlot, or walnut.  I've read that without the battery cover, the battery life is shorter than on the earlier, larger Kindle e-Ink readers, but most use their Kindles with a protective cover and this will give battery life lasting "months" instead of "weeks" as with the earlier Kindles.

The product page explains that you can "charge the Oasis and cover simultaneously while snapped together and plugged in.  When on the go, the cover will automatically recharge the device ...Plus, a new hibernation mode minimizes power consumption when your Kindle is inactive, extending battery life to its fullest capacity.

 I haven't seen an Amazon-product option that isn't in leather (some don't want to buy animal skin) but I imagine 3rd party covers will be available, although I haven't seen if they'll be able to use Amazon's battery-charging technology.

 Amazon describes the cover as one that "fits closely around the bezel, waking Kindle Oasis when opened and putting it to sleep when closed.  Twelve magnets form a secure attachment between device and cover, while still easy to detach when the lightest possible weight is desired."

Without the cover, the Oasis weighs 4.6 oz. vs 6.3 oz. for Voyage and 7.2 oz. for the Paperwhite 3.
Display resolution is the same for all three of these, at 300 dpi.

The new Kindle doesn't have automatic light adjustments but it does have 10 LEDS vs 6 in the Voyage and 4 in the Paperwhite 3.  Amazon explains that the 60% increase in lighting brings " enhanced page consistency" -- a feature that some Kindle users will appreciate when even the slightest variance has bothered some in earlier versions.

Storage capacity is the same at 4 GB.

They promise "Sharp, dark text" (which I hope they apply to the HOME page as well, since their latest update to the older Kindles lightened the font colors for the Home page and therefore reduced the contrast -- I'm still hoping they'll fix that).  
"All fonts have been hand-tuned at the pixel level for maximum readability."

The CURRENT price showing as of today (prices can change from time to time) is $289.99, and if you want 3G cellular network capability in addition to the default WiFi, that's an additional $70 (or $359.00).

As with all the other Kindles, the default configuration includes "Special Offers," which can be good offers or sometimes just ads on the lock screen.  To get the Oasis or any Kindle with NO Special Offers on the lock screen, it's an additional $20.

Comparison of Kindle E-Readers
Here's a link to Amazon's COMPARISON CHART of Kindle e-Readers (UK: here, Canada: here, Int'l: here) as of April 14, 2016.

Who might find this premium model worth a look?
While responding to a comment just now, it occurred to me that commuters who need to stand and hang onto a strap for long rides might find it easier to hold onto this Kindle with only one hand (no stretching the hand for screen taps to turn pages). It'd be less likely to cramp the hand.

And Tom Semple mentioned earlier that people going away (camping etc) to places with no electricity will find it useful. Then there are the few who see uneven lighting even on the Voyage and post that they're very bothered by it (while others don't notice, so it's a matter of how your eyes see).

That's it for now.  Are the premium features attractive to you?  I'll be back to update this as I find out more.

UPDATES - 4/16 and 4/17, 2016

Mashable's Lance Ulanoff
offers interesting points, not mentioned on the product page, from his conversations with Amazon.

• While the screen is only 3.4mm thick, the grip side with page-turn buttons houses the e-reader’s CPU, storage and battery.

• The body is made of an electroplated polymer for added strength.

• The Oasis appears sharper and brighter due, Amazon explained, to a wider white gamut and with "brand new" lighting and screen refraction.

• "The lighting now flows in through the side and is spread evenly over the screen by something Amazon called a 'cylindrical refractive pattern.'  What I noticed is that, even at its brightest, I could not see the actual LEDs.

• There's very little distance between the screen and the glass surface and you can feel as if you're touching the 'print.'

• Amazon explained that they chemically strengthened the glass after cutting it down to size rather than before.  This helps prevent weak spots.

• The page turns, for him, were quicker, without noticeable flashing.

• As mentioned above, the battery life without the cover attached is about two weeks.  The cover doesn't add much weight, he feels, describing it as 'relatively light, and brings the battery life to about 9 weeks

Ulanoff also describes how this cover works.  See that and more at the full article.

  ALSO The best Kindle Oasis photos I've seen for a good idea of what the new model AND cover look like are at The Verge article by Nick Statt.

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. And I thought the Voyage was pricey; they must be selling or they wouldn't be making more deluxe editions.

    I can tell the difference between my Paperwhite and Voyage (side by side), but when I've only got one with me, I'm not really missing the display on the other other (but I have gotten used to the buttons).

    I'm sure I'd love this but I don't see me buying it any time soon.
    I don't need anything thinner or lighter than I have. I've always got a charger with me when I go somewhere, so lasting months with a charge isn't really that important. (I can charge in the car or with stuff that's always in my backpack).

    THey've got a lot of different models out there now. I'd think there are some people going "hmm, which should I get, maybe I'll just wait since I can't decide..."a

    1. I have a couple of friends who went for the Voyage, while I'm on Paperwhite 3. I think the biggest draw is that they're finally offering dedicated, physical page turn buttons again. The 60% added LED lighting must be something.

      Commuters who must hang onto a strap for long rides and can now more easily hold onto the Kindle with only one hand may find this worthwhile too. Less likely to cramp the hand. (I should add this).

      And Tom mentioned earlier that people going away (camping etc) to places with no electricity will find it useful. Then there are the few who see uneven lighting even on the Voyage and post that they're very bothered by it (while others don't notice, so it's a matter of how your eyes see).

      I'm amazed they've made a Kindle that costs almost as much as the original one when it came out.

      I'm happy with my Paperwhite 3 except for the home page, which is FAR TOO light with no contrast right now. :-)

      Thanks for the quick feedback, Gary.

    2. I guess I could clarify: I'd love to have this. I don't NEED it. I've got other things (that I also don't need) that I could spend the $350 on :)

    3. Gary - Of course. But I guess you're calculating cost with 3G added? With phones with plenty of 4G capability on them I don't get Kindle Readers with 3G anymore, so it's $290 with battery-charging cover with the default WiFi. Still pricey, but if I were a commuter having to stand a lot, I'd consider it. I think they're targeting the Apple-users types who will tend to want the premium one if it turns out to be that much better an experience. We'll see. There's always the 30-day full refund return warranty Amazon has on its Kindles.

  2. They needed more even lighting because people will be flipping this thing as they switch hands. You would not want the screen to be lit from the bottom on one side and from the top on the other side, as that would be pretty noticeable I should think. I imagine the LEDs are now along the sides (probably just the 'grip' side). The side is longer, so it requires more LEDs, so dynamic range is better, FWIW.

    I think this could be more popular than the Voyage, despite the higher price (not really that much higher than Voyage if you purchase Amazon's cover for the latter). But it is also a more 'polarizing' design. I cannot believe how many people are predicting failure based solely on their own irrational reactions to the design, and without any hands-on. This is the type of device that you need to experience physically to appreciate the form factor. I'm sure it is quite a rarefied experience (this is my own irrational reaction, also uninformed by any hands-on).

    On the one hand (so to speak) it seems this is something you could hold effortlessly for hours with a minimum of discomfort. But at the same time, there are only about 7 hours of reading time without the cover attached. I almost never have time to read for more than an hour at a time, so this wouldn't represent any issue for me, but people for whom this is their only reading device might bump into power-management issues. It seems that reading with the cover attached would jettison all of the ergonomic benefits, and it takes something like twenty minutes of charging to get an hour of reading time, so even taking breaks would not entirely mitigate the inconvenience of having to manage the two energy reservoirs. (The only way to charge the cover is to attach it to an Oasis, and plug the assembly into a charger. So you'd need to buy a second Oasis just to use as a charging station, ha ha.)

    I cannot justify getting one, even just to try one out. I switch screens often, and my Kindle(s) don't make it into the rotation very often. I prefer the more uniform optical quality, crisp text etc., of LCD screens. 'Paper-like' may be Kindle's ethos, but I don't think it has got even asymptotically closer in recent years. The front lighting layer is not a clear benefit because it also causes additional diffusion that external light would not cause, while the native contrast of e-Ink displays is not improving very fast. One caveat to this assessment is that I've never seen or used a Voyage, so I don't know how much better than PW 3 it is.

    1. Tom - Your April 15 comments were prescient (as usual). See my 4/16-17 updates, including re the side-lighting.

      Re reactions in questions asked and answered section on the product page, some are so funny. My favorite of the few I read was that for this money it should perform sexual favors and someone replied " had better be good at it too!" :-)

      But as you say, it's not far above the price of the Voyage with their recommended flexible cover. $30 difference, I think. I'd love to see one. I've never seen the Voyage. I live near a Staples but they don't ever show them. People tell me there's a clear improvement on the Voyage over the Paperwhite (mainly with contrast and perceived clarity + evenness of lighting on the screen.).

      Hilarious point re a 2nd Oasis as a charging station :-)

      I stare at an LCD screen (laptop or tablet) for umpteen hours a day. So I have good tolerance for it but whenever my eyes DO get tired, it's amazing what a relief the Paperwhite is to read on afterward...

  3. Sadly, the list of features this model did not add is much longer than those it did:

    1. No reddish, bedtime mode. There's ample research that bluish screens near bedtime interfere with sleep—and all white screens include blue. "Roll and toss, we don't care," Amazon is saying with this model and its even brighter screen.

    2. No Bluetooth for attaching keyboards and mice. The keyboard would be for notetaking and the mouse buttons for remote page turning. The latter is especially helpful for those with mobility issues.

    3. No text-to-speech. That feature was removed to sell more at Audible.

    I'm starting to suspect that the Kindle readers aren't very demanding. New models add almost no features, even in the pricey models, and yet they keep on buying. And since they don't demand, Amazon doesn't supply.

    Not me. My almost ancient Kindle 3/Keyboard has dedicated page turn buttons. It has a lovely leather case with an elastic hand strap that keeps it in my hand much better than this new shape. It even has text-to-speech, which no model since has had. And the readability of the screen is perfectly fine. Even the lack of backlighting matters not. I always read by ambient light anyway. That means less strain on my eyes.

    Personally, I wouldn't bother to search for reasons to buy this one. If you're in the market, get the popular and much cheaper Paperwhite and spend the $170 you save on ebooks. Authors will love you for that.

    1. Inkling/Mike - I'm confused though by your wanting a reddish bedtime mode in an E-Ink black and white Kindle eReader...

    2. I am guessing @Inkling is referring to the fact that Kindle's white LED's emit blue frequencies and potentially may cause 'sleep disturbance' as any such light source might do (such as the typical clip-on book light and its LEDs). But I'm not as convinced the existing research is 'ample' and has broad application when it comes to the light intensity and screen sizes involved in reading on a Kindle. One can always get a pair of blue-filter eyeglasses if it is a concern.

      The first mobileread report is in, and they are very very happy with it and think it is worth it.

    3. Sorry for the delay. Not a good week here.

      I guess so, re blue light, though the lack of 'reddish' light threw me.

      I guess the mobileread report is on the Oasis? How did they get one ?

  4. Nice write-up here:

    Had not seen this tidbit elsewhere: "The light is diffracted through a new ‘cylindrical’ method, meaning the display is lit even more evenly than it was before."

    They categorically state 'display is better than Paperwhite' but maybe that is only based on the technical merits (more LEDs, more dynamic range, cylindrical method whatever that is). Another review there hedged and said they'd need to compare where they can control conditions and not just in Amazon's little room. And of course one has to think display should be a bit better than Voyage, given the refinements. We shall see.

    My justifications for getting one are increasing...

    1. Tom, thanks. Very nice, including pictures of the parts ! Appreciate that added tidbit.

      Will link to the report when I update the article.

      Apparently they're back-ordered on everything. People are reporting delivery dates of June-September depending on the configuration you choose, including color of the cover and whether 3G is ordered etc.

      I agree with your last thought. It's starting to look like they really went for Quality this time in a lot of aspects of this.

      Good idea from the other reviewer to evaluate outside Amazon's room. I'm very curious about it and if I decided to buy one it would be w/o the 3G since I have it on my phone (which also gives WiFi to my always-with-me Kindle tablet).

  5. Hi, this is off topic but any plans to cover the new audio adapter for paperwhite?

    1. Junior Yearwood - it's not at all off-topic. I've been away from the blog. But am definitely going to cover this, next. Thanks for the reminder. About time they did something like this even if it's more cumbersome than we'd like. At least it's possible.

  6. New basic kindle is out... due july 7
    they've made it lighter and thinner. I'm guessing it has more processing or memory so that it can run the new voice adaptor, but I don't know.

    1. Me neither. As you can see, I've been away from the blog for awhile and need to get back to it, as things have been happening while I was away. Thanks for the alert. So, people will actually get this lighter, thinner, basic Kindle without frills, in two more days.

  7. Looking forward to your Oasis comments...

    1. I'm just getting back to the blog after finishing other projects. Apologies.


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