Author Topic: Kindle Oasis 3G (Black) review by FearIndex  (Read 3613 times)  

Offline FearIndex

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Kindle Oasis 3G (Black) review by FearIndex
« on: May 09, 2016, 08:44:24 am »
As you can see from my signature, I'm a long-time avid Kindle reader and reviewer - especially in the area of searching for the perfect screen and lighting. I have had a long list of niggles with the frontlit Kindle family, though I have managed to mostly stick with it nevertheless. I got my Oasis 3G (Black) no ads version last week from the German Amazon store and have almost read one book on it, some in the pitch blackness of the night, some in various daylight.

The exterior

I must say I was surprised by how small the Oasis is. When I got the package, before opening, I wondered if I'd gotten some accessory instead of the actual device. It is very small, feels significantly smaller than the Voayge, but also feels smaller than the basic baby Kindle. The screen is still the same size as in all (non-DX) Kindles, so they have just managed to reduce the borders and adjust the form-factor to create a very small feeling device.

I have usually ordered the official Amazon cover, so it was nice that this time the cover is included. The book-style cover is my favourite too, even though the origami cover (see my signature for my case reviews) for the Voyage has been alright too. There have been some comments on the plasticness of the leather, it is pretty much the same leather as on the Voyage origami cover, so nothing too premium, but also feels durable and looks clean. I have no complaints about the case.

I understand the Merlot case has similar leather as the Black one. I might have liked that, but it was not available in a reasonable timeframe. I doubt I'd like the Walnut suede myself, but some may prefer the different texture that is available with that case, so do check the photos before selecting/ordering what is your personal preference.

The ergonomics

The Oasis is also very lightweight and because the case connects with magnets, removing the case while reading is very easy. It is easy on the Voyage case too, but in the Oasis it is even more inviting because it can be done sideways. So when I read, I usually have the cover connected when resting the device somewhere, but when picking it up during some part of the reading process, I just drop the case from the device and enjoy the feathery weight of it. The wedge design of the Oasis does work very well for single-handed use too.

My weight measurement comparison (in grams):

Kindle Oasis 3G without cover: 134g
Kindle Oasis 3G with black battery cover: 235 g

Kindle Voyage without cover: 179 g
Kindle Voyage with official origami cover: 312 g

New Kindle (7th Generation) without cover: 191 g
New Kindle (7th Generation) with official cover: 300 g

$69 Kindle 4B/5 without cover: 168 g
$69 Kindle 4B/5 with official lighted cover: 313 g

Paperwhite 1 3G: 220 g
Paperwhite 1 3G with official cover: 355 g
Paperwhite 2 Wi-Fi: 208 g

Kindle DX "Graphite": 536 g
Kindle DX "Graphite" with official cover: 900 g

Also, the completely black front bezel of the device is very nice. I find myself disliking the white button stripes on the Voyage. Kindle Oasis has no markings on top. The two page change buttons are complately black. Speaking of which, the buttons work great - having them on both sides would be preferable to the smaller size of the device, but with the automatic rotation it is not too hard to change hands. (Auto-rotate works great, by the way, fast and no ghost rotations.) Even though I got used to the touch Kindles and rarely used the buttons on the Voyage, great page change buttons on the Oasis have definitely switched me back to the old ways. They have a very satisfying rise and click, and not being on the edge like in the old days, pressing them is easier. They are probably the best page change buttons since Kindle 2 in my book. If something, maybe they could be a tad bit more quiet in the night, but it's fine.

Finally, the power button is back on the edge, so readily accessible when when the case is open. I always hated the rear power button in Voyage when returning to an open case (blocking the power button magnetically) and a Kindle in hibernation. Other than that, the case, when opening and closing the magnetically sealed (both ends) front flap, it does switch the Kindle from and to hibernation automatically, just like it does on the Voyage and the Paperwhites. So, all good.

In short, I really like the ergonomics and despite its new shape, the Oasis doesn't look weird at all to me. Physically, this is definitely the best Kindle - ever. (Caveat emptor: I haven't owned the 1 or the first Touch.)

The rest

I'm saving the best and the worst for last - the screen - so let's look at other significant points before that. First of all, the device with the latest software (similar to Voyage), is great and very familiar to Voyage users. Mine is a 3G model, so that is there as usual, all very familiar. There is no ambient light sensor, nor are there sensitivity settings for the page change buttons (just a reverse setting) as they have become real buttons, but otherwise the same stuff as in a Voyage is there. Ability to reverse the function of the page change button has been welcome, as the reverse setting works better for my usual reading style.

New stuff is support for the extra battery in the cover, which for the most part works great: the battery cover charges the Kindle when attached with magnets - and when charging Kindle via micro-USB it also charges the cover. If I remove the cover, I can still read on the Kindle's smaller internal battery and see only the single battery data in the user-interface. When I connect the cover, it shows the battery of the cover instead on the top of the user-interface - and both batteries when opening the top quick actions toolbar. All this is fairly logical and similar to how other such devices with two batteries function.

Except one thing. The battery depletion warnings prioritize the case. If the case is connected and it is being depleted, you will get a series of warning dialogs about this - even though the battery of the Kindle itself may still be fairly full. I even removed the case once just to stop those warnings from appearing. I would definitely like an option to select battery warning behavior and would prefer to be shown and warned only of the total battery power in the top edge and in the warning dialogs. I don't need dialog boxes telling me my extra case battery is spent. That is what it's there for, as an extra.

This also brings me to another observation, I would like to be able to close dialogs with just one option on the page change buttons. It is annoying to have to click battery reminders shut through touch when your finger is already on the page change key. Having said that, I would also prefer to turn off touch page changes to avoid accidents. Amazon, please consider changing these in software.

Anyway, those minor niggles aside, I like what I see here software and features-wise. Initial indexing made the device feel a little sluggish, but since that has been done it feels very fast indeed, even with full-page screen refreshes - being able to use the very quick page change keys helps make it seem even faster. Switching between pages is super fast. So, the Kindle Oasis is a very solid overall product... if you can live with the last thing, that is.

The screen

All this brings us to the last and definitely not the least important issue, the screen. A similar high-res e-ink screen as in the Paperwhite and the Voyage, with the latest front-light technology from Amazon - this time with ten LEDs on the thick side of the device, instead of 4 to 6 LEDs on the bottom of it. Like Voyage, the screen/glass cover is flush with the rest of the device (though edge plastic may be a bit more raised, which is nice). It has higher highs and lower lows than the Voyage screen. That means, you can make it brighter than the Voyage - and finally you can make it so dim that I think it actually turns the lights off, which is a first, since both Paperwhites and the Voyage always had a little bit of the light on.

Is the lighting even as promised? Heck no. I have looked at mine and enough of photographs on the Internet to doubt any of them really are. In short, it is a sideways-turned Voyage. There is the same from yellow to whiter color gradient, this time from left to right instead of from top to bottom. The overall lighting is a bit more yellow on the Oasis than it is on the Voyage, though, so more reminiscent of Paperwhite 2 in the overall color. But there is still a color gradient as there is on the Voyage. Also, arguably a gradient from left to right is worse when reading horizontally, than one from top to bottom. And change hands and use the auto-rotate, and the gradient reverses for each line... It takes a moment for the eyes to adjust to this.

There is also some "scalloping" or "stagelighting" where the lights are. It is much milder than on the Paperwhite 1, but since it is on the side of the text and there are many more of the lights, the scalloping overall is probably a little more visible than I'd say it was on the Voyage and the Paperwhite 2. So, basically you can see the LEDs are there on one side of the screen and you can see the opposite side of the screen - the one without lights - is a little more yellow in color than the other side is. Your eyesight will of course determine how much you sense this, but I think it is looking more like a feature than unit-to-unit difference by now.

Not that there can't be unit-to-unit differences. I have seen photos of some worse Oasis units (as well as witnessed many past frontlit Kindles of various quality). Mine has no dark spots or bright pinholes, nor is the screen overly blotchy. The color gradient and the slight stagelighting on the side is the main artifact. There may be a little more unevenness than that, but it is manageable. Blackness and clarity of the screen are slightly above my Voyage, so while I have seen even blacker blacks in some non-lit Kindles, overall this is approaching the best-in-a-Kindle I've seen.

So, it comes down to how manageable is the scalloping and the color gradient. I won't lie, it does diminish the overall value of an otherwise solid product. I really doubt the exchange route might net me a much better one, it might actually result in a worse unit. I doubt I'll try. I think this is simply the state of frontlit Kindle union so to speak, certain amount of unevenness is a part of the ballgame. It is a shame, because Kobo Aura H2O does the lighting so well (I use that when ecosystem allows), but I've lived with the Voayge successfully. The sideways gradient is a bit harder to forget on the Oasis, but already there are some moments when I can forget about it.

Disclaimer: I understand some people do not see the unevenness of the frontlit Kindle screens. For them, the Oasis is probably just great, no questions asked. Also, if you read in ambient lighting or daylight, you will probably not notice as the external lighting evens things out.

My solution has been to turn the light as low as possible in the given situation (e.g. 5 when reading in darkness). The fairly good contrast means I can do this quite comfortably and it also means the gradient is less visible. If there is a lot of ambient lighting, I just use the screen the compensate a little, and again the gradient is not very visible. It is too bad this cat and mouse game is needed, but on the flipside it is allowing me to enjoy an otherwise great product. And I am enjoying it. With the ability to turn the light practically off, using an external light isn't impossible either, though one can never completely remove the light guide layer of course.

In the end, it is a very good e-reader, with some software niggles that can and hopefully are improved - and a screen that remains controversial, but for me, manageable. If you can deal with the screen and the price, this is probably the best e-reader out there.

Edit: Nice discussion about some of the topics in this review by nortofdivision etc. here:,234947.msg3282994.html#msg3282994

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    Offline Rasputina

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    Re: Kindle Oasis 3G (Black) review by FearIndex
    « Reply #1 on: June 25, 2016, 09:45:24 am »
    Thanks for the review, I found it helpful.

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