Saturday, October 14, 2017

All-New Kindle Oasis E-reader finally. Waterproof, 7" high-res - 300 ppi, with built-In Audible. Updated.

Amazon's "All New Oasis" (UK,  Canada) was announced today.

What's not new is that it's pricey, as it's Amazon's
premium-featured Kindle E-reader.

New features: First waterproofed Kindle (IPX8 rating); twice the amount of basic storage as the other Kindles and you can choose 32 GB if you need it (for an additional $30) "to hold more magazines, comics, newspapers, and audiobooks"; dedicated page-turn buttons on an ultra-thin 3.4mm 7" display that shows 30% more text; and, as before, adjustable front-lighting that's said to be twice as effective as the ones in other Kindle models.

How effective is the water proofing?
Amazon explains that it's "rated to protect against immersion in up to two meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes.  And it's built to withstand getting splashed at the beach or dropped in the bathtub, hot tub, or pool."
  They give more details on what to do if it gets wet; what steps to take to dry it; and how to reduce the likelihood of water damage."

  A waterproof Kindle has been a long-requested feature, so it's likely to generate a lot of interest.

As with the basic Kindle model for 2017, this one comes with Audible for those who prefer to listen to their books when that's more convenient.

Here's Amazon's comparison table of its various E-readers as of October 2017.  (See UK and Canada.)

Note that the Oasis has 12 LEDs (said to give more contrast and darker letters) + adaptive light sensor, while the others have either 0, 4, or 6 LEDs.

The Kindle Voyage has the "page press" feature (less definite action), while the Oasis has actual page-turn buttons, a feature that many miss from the original Kindles (eons ago, it seems).

The Paperwhite, Voyage and Oasis all have the option of free Cellular Connectivity for an additional $50 (with the Oasis), BUT when trying out the 'Customization' of purchase options, I cannot choose the cellular-connectivity capability without the package now being automatically 32 GB (rather than 8, even if not needed) and then $30 more, AND the process also selects "without special offers" (ads on the lock screen) -- an option that is valued at $20.  These all add up to the $100 difference, instead of just $50 for the cellular option.

  My guess: they probably prefer not downloading graphics-heavy ads over cellular-networks as data that Amazon would be paying for, so they are foregoing the 'special offers' in this case by automatically charging the $20 to not see them, and it all gets rolled into the $100 additional cost to be able to download data while at the beach or on the bus, etc -- unless the customization limits are in error, but I don't think they are.

ALSO NOTE: The official Amazon 5W USB Power Adapter is NOT included with even this premium E-reader.  It's been a policy for some time to not include the power adapter, since many already have them for other or earlier Amazon E-readers or Kindle Fire tablets, and so Amazon includes only the USB cable that connects to a power adapter.  Therefore, the cost when you want to add that adapter is another $20 (UK, £17).

I still read on a Paperwhite3 (and still love the old thing).  Since I don't read around water, although I know many do, I'm not likely to upgrade, even if reviews of the first Oasis found it easier to hold and a pleasure to use.  I also don't send for review copies, as I don't have the time these days, but I'll watch the reviews and forum discussions and bring back any interesting info I find.

The premium leather standing cover and the "Water-safe Fabric" standing cover ($15 less than the premium cover) are shown when you get to the Customization page that's now a part of the 'Add to Cart' process.  Inescapable :-)

Expected delivery date
While this new Oasis is "Available" for pre-order now, I've not yet seen an official delivery date, BUT on a listing I saw that includes "not-for-retail" (yet) models, the date given is October 31.  That includes an int'l page designated "not for retail" so I'll give the link to that when it is ready.

  Will update this blog as I get more info.  Be sure to read the linked-Oasis page for details on the new software - enhanced layout and formatting features.

  If you have questions on any of this, let me know in Comments section, and I'll try to find answers for you.

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. Obviously the Audible inclusion indicates the presence of a speaker in the Oasis, but will it be able to play other audio files? And will there be text-to-speech available for books that have that feature enabled? Although my primary reading device is a Paperwhite, I still have a couple of Kindle Touch that I use occasionally for the text-to-speech feature while I'm doing a somewhat mindless housekeeping chore. I don't like Audible books all that much because I often find the narrators' voices annoying. I also find the text-to-speech voices on my Kindle Fire annoying, preferring the somewhat monotonous text-to-speech voice on my Kindle Touch. Weird, huh? Anyway,I ordered an Oasis,and the delivery date is supposed to be the same as the release date, October 31, so I guess I'll find out then. But if you can find answers to my questions, it might be of interest to others as well. Thanks.

    1. Tricialee, I'll update the blog tomorrow to include more info. The new Oasis, being waterproof and decidedly ultraslim, doesn't include a built-in speaker, nor does it have a 3.5mm headphone jack. It works through Bluetooth (formerly used only for accessibility for dealing with the menu system).

      So to hear it you'd need bluetooth headphones or mini speaker. You CAN be reading the book and be able to switch to hearing it without switching apps.

      I know what you mean about the more robotic "Tom" (the first text-to-speech) voice for the Kindle being preferable to the quasi-personality-type of voice lately. I imagine that TTS technology is available on this since it's used on other eInk Kindles, but I haven't confirmed it -- am still working on other projects, but will update tomorrow.

      Sorry about no built-in speaker though! Small-device speakers tend to be so low-volume, I always use a mini-ball type of speaker (surprisingly effective) with every tablet even.

    2. Thanks for info re lack of speaker/headphone jack. I dislike wearing headphones, so guess I'll need to get a Bluetooth speaker; was thinking about one for my new Kindle Fire 8 anyway, as included speaker is lousy. My late and lamented Kindle Fire HD had pretty good speakers.

    3. Tricialee, the small, round ones for about $15-$20 can be very good. I'm still using one with my Kindle HDX 8.9" which also has barely hearable speakers. It has an amazingly good sound -- an Ayl model that isn't sold anymore because they go for ones with extra bass. The little wooden ones seem to get good reviews.
      And yes, as with you, my smaller Yr 2012 Kindle Fire 7" has robust sound. Go figure...

  2. The second generation Oasis contains no physical audio connectors. So, if you want to use Audible or text to speech, you will need to have some Bluetooth headphones (or an external Bluetooth speaker) to enable these features.

    The second generation kindle is $40 cheaper than the first generation, comes with 8GB RAM instead of 4GB, is waterproof, and has much better battery life. Many of the additional features (like fonts) will be coming to the older Oasis and the latest generation of other kindles via an over the air update at some future point.

    On my existing Oasis I have about 350 books (most already read :grin) loaded, and I still have 2GB of the original 4GB remaining (Audible books will be much more storage heavy than "normal" books -- hence the 8GB/32GB options.

    None of the new features appeal to me -- I'm very happy with my existing Oasis -- I will not be getting this one.

    1. Edward, yes, Amazon's been good on updating software for new features, on older models...

  3. They only have one model of the cellular model because having 2 (or 4, if you count SO option) increases number of SKUs for what will almost certainly be the least popular configuration.

    Note that Audible feature is going to be delivered to the two 8th generation Kindles (Kindle Oasis and $79 Kindle). They also support Bluetooth though Oasis 1 never had it enabled previously.

    I don’t think many people will actually use Audible on their Kindles. It is more about spreading awareness among people who haven’t really given it a try yet.

    1. Thanks, Tom, for the added information. Yes, had read about the software updates coming later to those, and Edward mentioned them too though not the specific models to get the update. A friend of mine loves listening to Audible on her 7" Kindle Fire. Since she is not likely to go from her Paperwhite to the new $79 Kindle, she won't be listening on her E-reader but I'm pretty sure she would.

      I'm surprised that they would not have enabled the Bluetooth on Oasis 1 for accessibility needs of sight-handicapped customers who'd need that for menu navigation. Maybe it's that those customers have no particular reason to buy the expensive first Oasis.

    2. Yes, I agree that VoiceView users had no reason to get a device for $369 when the lowly $79 Kindle (or Paperwhite) meets their requirements. No need to pay for page turn buttons and lit screen. As it happens it did ship with /voice files and you could use the USB audio dongle to get VoiceView, so long as charging cover was attached. But that was never officially supported. If they enabled BT just for VV they would have had to do release testing of a feature nobody was going to use. And the Audible feature was evidently not ready until they’d already boxed up Oasis 2 since it will take an update after unboxing.
      I’d like to see them add Plain Old TTS while they are at it though, 3.5GB storage on the 7th gen devices does not leave much room for audiobooks in the end.

    3. Tom, Amazon's Kindle Audio Adapter, according to the 4- and 5-star reviews, does work for TTS (and some say it works well) with some Paperwhites and the Oasis 1. One person received a unit that didn't work, exchanged it, and the replacement is fine. There is a way to control volume but people have to search for it. I was surprised the text-to-speech (with headphones) works so well for so many. Then there are those for whom it didn't work at all (in the 1-star reviews area).

    4. I have used the adapter with my Voyage and Paperwhite, but only Paperwhite is officially supported, and after applying the update to Paperwhite I copied these over to Voyage. Oasis 1 came with the voice files if I remember correctly so no update required unless you removed the /voice folder along the way. Finding volume control is not rocket science, when VoiceView is active the Settings link in quick settings takes you directly to VoiceView settings instead of general settings. I don’t remember if Bluetooth implementation lets you adjust volume with headset controls, I think it does.

      The 1-star people are ignorant about the concept of a screen reader, or did not install voice files correctly. The voice file installer only works on Paperwhite 3, not on any other model. Everything prior to PW3 had only 256MB RAM and VoiceView requires 512MB RAM. For Voyage to work, one either needs to get a third party tool to unpack the Paperwhite update .bin file, or (as I did) copy them off of a Paperwhite that has had the voice file update applied.

      I never tire of explaining that VoiceView is not TTS, though others conflate these.

    5. Tom, thanks for explaining why Voiceview's installer doesn't work with Paperwhites before the current generation 7 model.

      Interestingly, one customer was getting ready to copy the needed files to her Voyage, purchased in July 2016, and found that the files were already included on hers.

      Some pointed out that the voice, originally intended only as a navigation aid, is not only "smoother" than the original actual text-to-speech voice ("Tom"), it sounds a bit more realistic, AND an unintended bonus is that the voice provides text-to-speech even on books which publishers have set to not do text-to-speech.


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