2017 Amazon Kindle Oasis review: Better than paper and waterproof too

  • Editors' rating
    9.3 Spectacular
  • $349.99

Pros

  • Large, clear display with outstanding lighting
  • IPx8 water resistance
  • Audible support
  • Comfortable design

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can't listen to an Audible book and browse or read at the same time
  • No 3.5mm headset jack

Apple's new iPhone X honors the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and is the most expensive and innovative iPhone yet. Along the same line, the 2017 Kindle Oasis marks the 10th anniversary of the original Kindle ereader, also being the most expensive and innovative Kindle ever.

The most significant new design element of the new Kindle Oasis is the IPx8 waterproof rating that lets you use the new Kindle in the bath, by the pool, on a boat, or in other environments where even paper books can't be used.

I purchased the Kindle Oasis on the day it was announced and have carried, read, and listened to it daily ever since it arrived. It is an expensive single-purpose device, but if you love reading it is the best ebook reader you can purchase today and nothing is compromised.

Specifications

  • Display: 7 inch glare-free 16-level gray scale with 300 ppi
  • Storage: 8GB or 32GB internal
  • Water resistance rating: IPx8
  • Material: Aluminum body
  • Integrated backlight: 12 LEDs and adaptive light sensor
  • Battery life: Weeks for reading
  • Wireless connectivity: 801.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth, cellular option for $50
  • Dimensions: 159 x 141 x 3.4-8.3 mm and 194 grams

When compared to last year's Kindle Oasis, see Sandra's full review, the 2017 model provides a larger display (7 vs 6 inches), larger integrated battery (last year had an integrated battery and an external one in an included cover), waterproof construction, aluminum body instead of plastic, 12 LEDs instead of 10, larger base capacity (4GB vs 8GB), and Bluetooth audio support for Audible book listening out of the box. As you can see, it is a fairly significant upgrade over last year's model.

Hardware

My current Kindle is an original Kindle Paperwhite and it is still a decent ebook reader. However, the new 2017 Kindle Oasis is exactly what I have been looking for with physical buttons to turn the pages and a display that has excellent level lighting and clarity. As I get older, I need an ebook reader with font control and have been loving the book experience with the new Oasis.

There are two physical buttons in the center of the wide bezel on the Kindle Oasis and the great thing is that you can customize the direction each button moves you through a book so you can have the buttons on the left side or the right side. I am right handed, but personally prefer to hold the Oasis in my left hand with my thumb navigating books with the two buttons. It is extremely comfortable for me to hold the Oasis with my left hand and navigate books without ever using my right hand. My four fingers rest along the edge of the thick part on the back and hold the Oasis securely in place.

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The display is a touchscreen and it looks fabulous with wonderful clarity and even backlighting thanks to its 12 LEDs. My 2012 Kindle Paperwhite has a six inch 212 PPI display with four LEDs so this new Oasis is quite an improvement.

On one end of the thick part of the Oasis you will find a microUSB port for charging and on the other end is the power button. The edges and back are constructed of gray aluminum material that feels great in the hand. The thick area that likely houses all of the advanced electronics and battery is 8.3 mm thick while the other two-thirds of the Oasis is only 3.4mm thick.

Amazon sent along a couple of the new standing covers for me to check out with my new Kindle Oasis. The Kindle Oasis leather standing cover magnetically attaches to the back of the Kindle Oasis and provides screen protection while you carry your Oasis around. It folds back behind the Oasis and then has a hinged part of the cover that acts to prop up your Oasis on a table for hands-free reading. When using it in stand mode, I simply tapped on the screen to flip pages rather than using the physical buttons.

This cover is available in saddle tan, midnight, and merlot for $59.99 $39.99. The leather looks great and is well integrated into the back of the Kindle Oasis. Magnets hold the cover in place, but they could be much stronger. If your Kindle slips and you grab the cover to keep it from dropping then the Kindle is likely to fall out of the cover. It provides protection in safe handling, but is unlikely to protect the Oasis if dropped. I've had it pop off when moving into stand mode too and wish there were stronger magnets or some other mechanism to hold it more securely in place.

I also tested out the Water-Safe Fabric Standing Cover that has a similar design to the leather one. Textured fabric material is water safe so this is the cover to get if you bought the Oasis to use around water. It is available for $44.99 $29.99 in charcoal, indigo, and sandstone, but has very long shipping estimates of one to two months.

It appears that Amazon has permanently dropped the price of these two cases, likely due to the large amount of negative feedback on the strength of the magnetic attachment. In regular use, I never had much of an issue with the case, but don't hold onto just the case and expect your Kindle Oasis to stay attached.

Software

There is a lot packed into the software of the 2017 Kindle Oasis and most of the functions are likely to come to the 2016 Oasis and other Kindles in software updates.

The display auto-rotates when you flip it to have the physical buttons on the right or left. As I mentioned, you can switch the functionality of the buttons too so it is optimized for either a left or right-handed person equally. I love using the buttons to navigate through books one-handed and am reading more than ever with the Oasis.

There are a number of settings on the device to customize your viewing, reading, and listening experience. Strangely, I cannot find an option to enable a 24 hour clock, which is what I prefer to use on all of my devices.

You can customize the display size between standard and large. Large size increases text and image sizes in areas of your Kindle outside of the actual book text that you can customize individually. I also note that selecting large size adds words below the icons in the top navigation bar.

Other settings include reading and page refresh toggles, languages, parental controls, Bluetooth headphone connections and WiFi connections, nightlight toggle for gradual screen brightness changing as your eyes adjust to the darkness, and much more in relation to what is shown on the display as you read.

The top navigation bar has buttons for home, back, quick settings, Goodreads, Store, search, and menu. The quick settings give you large button access to airplane mode, Bluetooth toggle, sync, all settings, and backlight control slider. The menu takes you to the Kindle store, Audible store, restart, reset, device info, and legel info.

While you are reading a book, a tap near the top opens the navigation bar with a bar below it for Go To, X-Ray, font size and type selector button, share, and bookmark. You can setup and share your book status to Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

I've never really used X-Ray in books before, but some of the historical non-fiction books I am reading lend themselves to this functionality. It is a great way to find out more about people and the vocabulary of the day when reading such books and adds to the reading experience.

Along the bottom you will see the chapter you are in, location, remaining time in the book, percent complete, and more. A tap of the page flip buttons gives you two cool thumbnail view options to quickly move through a book.

Tapping and holding on a word gives you the ability to highlight it, add a note, share it, or search. The dictionary opens up in a pop-up window on the page to show you definitions. You can also move the ends of the selectors to highlight or share more than just a single word.

The new Kindle Oasis supports Audible books via a Bluetooth headset. While I would love to have seen a 3.5mm headset jack, phone manufacturers are killing this standard port too so it is understandable that the Kindle Oasis doesn't have one. I connected the Oasis to my Apple Airpods and the two work well together.

You can play, pause, skip back, or skip ahead using the Kindle Audible play screen. You can adjust your speed and add bookmarks too. Audio plays loud and clear through my Bluetooth headset, but you cannot go back to the home screen to browse the bookstore or read along while you listen. The audio stops if you move away from the Audible book, which is a bit unfortunate at times.

Price and competition

The base 8GB WiFi Amazon Kindle Oasis is available for $249.99 with special offers. The jump to 32GB costs $30, the jump to cellular connectivity is $50, and if you want to remove the special offers from the lockscreen you can pay Amazon $20. I ordered the 32GB WiFi-only model with special offers. Not sure I need the 32GB, but I do like Audible books and magazines so figured I would spend $30 there and save $20 with the special offers that never bother me at all.

Kobo has been making water resistant ebook readers for a couple of years now and has a 2017 Aura H2O available for $179.99. It has a 6.8 inch display with lower resolution and no support for audio books. The physical buttons of the Kindle Oasis and the Amazon ecosystem trump Kobo for my needs.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

I've been asking Amazon to make a waterproof Kindle for a couple of years and as soon as I saw this capability in the new 2017 Kindle Oasis I knew I had to have one. Thousands of books have passed by my eyes since I was a young boy, I even skipped going out with friends to finish good books, and the Kindle Oasis has helped me refocus and take the time to read every day again.

I could probably have been fine with a new Paperwhite or Voyage ebook reader, but I am blessed to have achieved success in my work so I went for the best device available. It is better than I expected and provides me with a full and complete reading and Audible book experience.

While you can read Kindle books on many other devices, I wrote in 2009 that distraction-free single-purpose devices like the Kindle give you a much better reading experience. When I read, I want at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to focus on the book and transport myself into the world where the book takes place. This is better than a virtual reality experience for me and it takes a dedicated ebook reader to get me there.

The new Kindle Oasis is not a pocketable device, but it works very well in one hand and lets me easily read on the train and airplane. I've used it daily on my Sounder commute, while flying across the country, and while taking a relaxing bath after a long workout.

The Kindle Oasis offers a premium reading experience at a premium price and its a price I'm willing to pay to travel to far off lands and explore the universe.

Where To Buy

Price
$349.99

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Where To Buy

Amazon Kindle Oasis 2017 (32GB, 3G/4G)

Part Number: B06VTJWRJW
Price
$349.99

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