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Amazon's New Kindle Oasis: Easier on the Eyes, Still a Pain in the Wallet

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Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

No one needs a $250 ereader, but the Kindle Oasis is often good enough that you can convince yourself otherwise. Its display and backlight are better than average, and its asymmetrical design is purpose-constructed for the avid reader. Though it’s got its detractors, I’ve always liked it. I read a lot, and I love ereaders. Spending $120 more than I need to for the very best has felt like the kind of luxury I can safely budget for. Now there’s a third generation of the Kindle Oasis, which isn’t very different from the last generation apart from having a backlight with adjustable warmth. You might feel you can budget for this one as well.

Size-wise there is no difference between the second-generation Oasis, which was introduced in 2017, and this new third generation. They both feature a large 7-inch 300 PPI display and that unique design, which encourages you to hold the Oasis with just one hand. They both have a Micro USB charging port that feels absolutely obnoxious and outdated when USB-C is everywhere. They’re both waterproof (IPX8), support Audible via Bluetooth, and come in 8GB and 32GB versions.


They’re both very good ereaders. Though in my experience, the third generation Oasis has the same problem with battery life as the second generation. Packing a bright, backlit display and Bluetooth into an ereader hurts battery life. With the brightness set to max, I lost 10 percent battery in approximately two hours.

You won’t be using the Kindle Oasis with the battery cranked to the max very often. For starters, the auto-brightness feature rarely ramps the brightness all the way up, unless you are sitting on a blazing beach. When I set it to adjust the brightness automatically, it never set it above 19 on a scale of 1 to 24. More importantly, maxing out the brightness while the warmth setting is maxed out leads to a display that’s very yellow and ugly.


But why offer adjustable warmth? The idea is that staring at blue light, like the cooler backlight of other Kindles, messes with our circadian rhythms and makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night. Warmer light, for many, is more pleasing to the eyes.


The new backlight in the third generation Oasis warms up the too blue e-ink display. Both the brightness and the warmth toggle effect affect just how warm the display gets. So you can keep the warmth maxed out but adjust the brightness to keep the display from being too warm. Or vice versa. And if you don’t want to mess with either setting, that’s an option. Turn on auto-brightness and schedule the warmth to switch on at certain times of day.


The adjustable warmth isn’t necessary, but as someone who has always found the backlight on other Kindles way too cool, I like it. It’s exactly the silly, not super necessary feature I’d expect from the most luxurious Amazon ereader available.

If you want a solid ereader that has a beautiful backlight, excellent battery life, and a waterproof design, then the $130 Kindle Paperwhite is there for you. For most people, it’s the ereader to buy. But if you read a lot, and want to splurge (even if it might hurt your battery life), the $250 Kindle Oasis is an attractive option too.