Kindle Oasis: Amazon’s next big step towards its goal of digital paper

Amazon’s latest high-end Kindle Oasis is the thinnest and lightest yet, with a new design and 9-weeks’ reading battery life. Photograph: Amazon

Amazon has just released the next step in the evolution of e-readers, a wafer thin screen bolted to a small grip containing the battery and electronics, the Kindle Oasis.

The new high-end Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s biggest step yet towards its goal of making e-readers just like paper, having committed to shrinking each iteration of Kindle by 20% at a time.

The back of the Kindle Oasis has a battery lump one side, which makes it easy to hold onto, and 3.4mm thick screen the other. The contacts on the back connect to the magnetic charging case. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Chris Green, vice president of industrial design of devices for Amazon said: “The Kindle is like a hammer, a single purpose device, and this is the best we can make it.

“We’ve found that the more that sits in between the reader and the book, the less engaged they are with it. The Oasis is our best Kindle yet at getting out of the way and sending people down the rabbit hole.”

Amazon has reduced the Kindle to a display just 3.4mm thick, connected to a handgrip that contains the battery, electronics and two programmable page-turn buttons, while reducing the weight by 20% to 131g. The company has made the plastic stronger using electroplating and the screen’s glass more durable by cutting it into shape before hardening it, which is expected to help prevent small chips to the edges of the glass from propagating across the display.

The battery case connects magnetically to the back of the Oasis and charges the internal battery at a rate of one hour of reading per 10 minutes charging. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The new Kindle has the next generation of Amazon’s touchscreen Paperwhite display, with previous versions seen in the top-end Voyage and Paperwhite. It has the same screen density of 300 dots per inch similar to printed books, but the new display has moved the front-light LEDs to the side, providing space for 60% more lights, increasing the screen’s brightness and even lighting.

The Oasis will last for two weeks on its own, but is sold with a high-quality case that attaches magnetically to the back of the device, which charges the Kindle’s internal battery at a rate of 1 hour’s reading time every 10 minutes and adds a further 7 weeks’ battery life. The case turns off the screen, sending the Kindle into a new lower-power hibernation state when closed and protects it when not in use.

Chris said: “We’re now measuring battery life in months, because no one wants to be stopped from finding out who the killer is because the battery dies.”

Two programmable page-turn buttons and a touchscreen give readers options of how to control their reading experience. Photograph: Amazon

The Oasis, which becomes the fourth e-reader in Amazon’s current lineup, is very much the new flagship Kindle above the already premium Voyage with a price to match. Available for pre-order today and shipping within two weeks the Oasis will cost £270 for a Wi-Fi-only version and £300 with Amazon’s 3G service. That is £100 more than the £170 Voyage, £160 more than the most popular Kindle, the £110 Paperwhite, and 4.5 times more than the starting £60 Kindle.

Amazon’s Kindle store now has 4.4m ebooks available, with 1.1m added in the last 12 months and 1m exclusive to the service. The new Kindle launch comes at a time when competitors Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Sony and others are pulling out of the market which Amazon dominates.

Arthur van Rest, Amazon’s director of product management for devices in the EU said: “Our Kindle sales are up, people are reading more ebooks than ever before and we’re investing more money in devices and the store. We are fully committed to the ebook market.”

The leather charging cover comes in three different colours. Photograph: Amazon


Originally published at www.theguardian.com on April 13, 2016.

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