Gadgets for humans

Amazon’s 2019 Kindle Oasis brings better lighting but little else

Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019 (4 of 4)
Price $ 250+ ProductKindle Oasis (2019) by Amazon

I’m going to keep this review short. Amazon‘s new Kindle Oasis goes on sale today starting at $249, but in almost every respect, it’s identical to its 2017 predecessor. There is but one meaningful update: you can now change the screen color temperature, shifting it to warmer hues for both helping you sleep and matching ambient lighting.

You can learn most of what you need to know from my review of its predecessor. It’s probably still the best ‘luxury’ e-reader out there, but there’s little reason to upgrade from the existing Oasis or Paperwhite, which both offer waterproofing and a high-resolution display.

The new Kindle works much better in warm lighting.

All that being said, the new color temperature adjustments are welcome, especially if you do a lot of reading indoors in dim lighting and rely on the screen’s backlighting. While the cool white backlight on previous Kindles is great outdoors, it takes on a distracting blue-ish hue indoors, since most indoor lighting is far warmer than daylight.

Of course, if you use a bright source light and rely on the Kindle‘s reflective e-ink, this is a moot point. But I usually prefer having some degree of backlighting on, and the Oasis’ auto-brightness setting will generally add some illumination anyway.

The orange-ish light makes the Kindle more paper-like indoors. You can easily match the backlight to the typical warmth of soft indoor lighting, and it’s much less jarring when I’m reading in near-complete darkness in my bed. I’m a big fan of the new lighting, I just wish Amazon weren’t penny-pinching everywhere else.

For one, it’s puzzling that Amazon didn’t add a color temperature sensor to the 2019 Oasis – instead making you manually adjust the warmth setting. The external design is virtually identical to its predecessor, but Amazon seems to have moved the internal magnets such that covers for the 2017 Oasis will not stay on the newer model. The bezel with the page-turning buttons is still chunkier than it needs to be, I wish Amazon had reduced some of the glare from the glass, and the e-ink doesn’t seem to refresh any faster on the new model.

Micro USB? In 2019?

But most egregious of all is the fact that Amazon is still using micro USB on a $250 gadget in 2019. Yes, ereaders have marathon battery life, but they do eventually run out of juice, especially if you use the backlighting a lot. It sucks to be on a trip without a micro USB cable readily available when they do – it’s happened to me a few times with the previous Oasis.

Don’t get me wrong. The Oasis is still arguably the best e-reader you can buy. Waterproofing and the option for built-in LTE for book-browsing anywhere is awesome. Amazon still has the best selection of titles. But I can’t help but feel the company is resting on its laurels.

Consider the new Oasis a tentative recommendation. If you read a lot and plan on doing most of it on an ereader, I think ponying the $250+ for the larger display and warm lighting is worth it over the $130+ Paperwhite. It makes the ereader that much closer to reading a physical book. But for most people, the Paperwhite is still a better buy – or if you just care about the larger screen, you can get a used 2017 Kindle Oasis for cheap in the days to come.

If the new Kindle Oasis tickles your fancy, you can buy one here. Shipments are currently delayed till July 30, but prices start at $250 for the 8 GB model with ads and no cellular data, ranging up to $350 for the 32 GB model with LTE and no ads.  If you want to save some money, you can buy a Paperwhite for $129+ here, or check out some used deals on the 2017 Oasis here.


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Published July 24, 2019 — 18:14 UTC

Price $ 250+ ProductKindle Oasis (2019) by Amazon