Highest-end model in Amazon’s popular Kindle series “Kindle Oasis” having IPX8 waterproof rating was launched on Wednesday. Amazon has been selling Kindles for 10 years now, but “waterproof” hasn’t appear on its list of incremental technological advancements until now. Perhaps the most welcome news for Kindle diehards is that the new Oasis is waterproof.
It’s fitting that Amazon’s flagship Kindle is called Oasis. The E Ink-based tablet survives on its own island among more complex tablets and smart phones. It’s for reading and, really, not much else. The Kindle Oasis, however, isn’t stranded on this island. Amazon has consistently updated it and the core technology behind it year after year.
The new Kindle Oasis — the same name as last year’s premium Kindle — has jumped up in size, moving from a 6-inch screen to a 7-inch screen. It has aluminium back, which gives it a more premium look and feel than the Kindles with soft-touch plastic. It’s also the company’s first waterproof device. Amazon says the display will still sport 300 pixels per inch, so text should be just as sharp as before.
Amazon also increased the number of over-the-screen LED lights to 12 (it was 10) for more uniform lighting. As a larger device with a metal back, the all-new Kindle Oasis is heavier than the original: 194 grams versus 130 grams.
The new Oasis relies entirely on its built-in battery. It has a similar physical design, with one thicker side that tapers down on the other side, for one-handed reading. But Amazon has made a point of saying that it managed to fit in a bigger battery, while keeping the tapered side of the device at 3.4 millimetres.
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 resembles the old Oasis, the $289 device Amazon introduced over a year ago. It’s incredibly, almost paper-thin on one side (0.13 inches) and then fattens considerably to a third of an inch on the other to accommodate the battery. There are, though, some big differences. The composite body has been replaced with a unibody aluminium chassis and the curve that connects the fat side with the thin side of the Oasis is now a scallop design.
The resolution of the e-paper display is the same at 300 ppi, but it has a couple extra LED lights now for a brighter, more even-looking display. And it also has ambient light sensors that adjust the brightness as you move from room to room or from outdoors to indoors.There are physical page-turn buttons, plus the touch screen page-turn option; Amazon says it’s worked on both the hardware and software side of things to make page-turning feel faster.
The new e-reader has been tested in two meters of water for up to 60 minutes. It’s also been tested in different water environments, like hot tubs, pools, and bubble baths. Amazon declined to say how it waterproofed the Kindle, but since it still has an open USB port for charging, it’s recommending that people stand the Kindle upright after it’s been submerged.
The big feature the company is touting is the ability to play audio books 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 Paper white will not, since it doesn’t support Bluetooth.
Kindles, which Amazon says is to accommodate the storage of audio books. It also connects over both Wi-Fi and 4G LTE.
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 and ads (or “special offers”), with a 32GB model available for $280. Those models cost $270 and $300, respectively, without ads. Another model with 32 GB and cellular connectivity is available for $350. The new reader is up for pre-order today and will start shipping on October 31.
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 smart phones are becoming the norm, and the addition of waterproofing is the only good thing.
This year’s Prime Day marked Amazon’s single biggest day for Kindle sales.