Amazon releases new kindle Oasis model

Given the recent number of sales on Amazon’s Kindle line and the upcoming 10th anniversary of the release of the original Kindle, many, including myself, expected the announcement of a new Kindle was in the works.

Today, Amazon announced an all-new kindle Oasis. The new device has a larger, 7″, 300 ppi display. The device is also  waterproof, a feature that many other high end e-readers already have and one that many customers have been asking for. The device is IPX8 rated, which protects against immersion in up to 2 meters of water for up to 60 minutes. According to Amazon, there are also battery improvements to the new device.

Probably one of the most frequently requested features for the Kindle is for the return of the text-to-speech features for the e-Ink devices. The TTS function was a feature in the earlier Kindle models and is currently available on e-ink Kindles only via the use of a special adapter. Built in, it is presently only an included feature on the Fire tablets. While Amazon has not restored text-to-speech in this new device, they have integrated Audible audiobooks with the Oasis.(See here to learn about Audible.) This device still doesn’t have a headphone jack or speakers and instead uses a Bluetooth connection to provide audio. You must provide your own Bluetooth headphones or speaker.

The Amazon description says,”With Audible built in, you never have to put your story down and can switch easily between reading and listening without changing devices.” It is unclear if that implies whether this model will be capable of enhanced Immersion Reading, which allows for both audio and reading highlighted text at the same time.

Because this device is designed to work with Audible files which are quite large, the device comes with more storage and more storage options. It is available in an 8GB configuration which is twice the amount of storage included with the original Oasis. The device also comes in a 32GB configuration, which will be helpful for storing the larger file sizes associated with  audio books, comic books, etc.

One of the most interesting changes to the new Oasis is the fact that it does away with the integrated battery cover of the previous model.  (You can read my views on that cover here.) The previous model’s covers were only available in leather, a fact that was upsetting to many who preferred a vegan option for a cover. This model’s covers come in a variety of colors in both fabric and leather options.

The new Oasis costs $249.99 for the 8GB WiFi-only model. The 32GB WiFi-only model is $279.99. The Oasis is also available in a 32 GB cellular configuration for $349.99. Fabric covers sell for $44.99 and leather covers cost $59.99

All models are available for pre-order now and will start shipping October 31, 2017.

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5 Reasons Why I’m Not Buying a Kindle Oasis… Yet

oasisTomorrow is the official release Day for the Kindle Oasis. Although it may seem a surprising thing for a tech blogger to do, I have decided to wait before buying the latest hardware. And, also probably surprising, is the fact that price is not one of my reasons. 🙂

So why am I waiting to see if I want to buy an Oasis at all?  Here’s my five reasons:

Battery Life:

According to Amazon, the current basic Kindle battery life is four weeks, based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off. The Paperwhite and the Voyage promise six weeks with wireless off and the light setting at 10. The Oasis specs indicate “A single charge with cover [emphasis added] lasts up to eight weeks, based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10.”

But how is the battery on the device itself? According to most write-ups I’ve seen, the Oasis battery itself only last for two weeks and the rest of the battery life comes from the cover. That’s two weeks at 1/2 hour a day with the wireless turned off or approximately 7 hours if you are reading without the cover. That is a much shorter battery life than the devices we have now. I do not want to pay more for a device with less battery life than its predecessor, at least if you want to use it without the cover.  And what happens if that cover fails? (Which brings me to my next point.)

The Integrated Cover:

If you have read this blog for very long, one thing should be fairly obvious:  I am admittedly a device cover junkie. For every device I own, I have bought at least one cover. I gift devices along with a cover. I will buy a new cover just to spruce up my Kindle. I have them in all sorts of materials, styles and colors and in all price ranges. But generally speaking, I do not like Amazon covers. Part of this is based on my previous Amazon-integrated cover experience with the cover for the Kindle Keyboard. It is also the reason that I have concerns about an Oasis cover failure.

KK_cover_hooksIn 2010,  when Amazon came out with the third generation Kindle, now called the Kindle Keyboard, they designed an integrated leather cover that had hooks to hold the Kindle in place. This cover came in two styles: one with a light ($60 at the time) and one  without the light ($35). (At the time, 3rd party lights like the Kandle and the Mighty Bright were popular. This was before the Paperwhite, of course.) And it was a huge disaster.

It turned out that the hooks that went into the Kindle caused a electrical short that interfered with the Kindles in the version without a light. It caused a malfunction and a lot Kindles were deemed defective before they figured out the problem.  I, of course, bought the one without the light and wound up sending my first Kindle Keyboard back. AT one point, I think Amazon started refunding people who  had bought the cases, but I wasn’t among that group. (I still have it: I pulled it out the week they announced the Oasis to take a picture.And if anybody wants it, let me know!)

Needless to sat, after that experience, I have never bought another Amazon cover and I am not wild about the idea of a battery operated cover from Amazon until I see how it holds up. I waited to buy the $50 Fire until third-party covers were available.

I have already written here about the concern some vegans have about the leather cover. I would really like to see a variety of 3rd party covers available for purchase. I will be curious to see if Amazon allows other companies to make covers for the devices or decide to keep the cover business for themselves.

Wireless problems with the Paperwhite and other devices:

One of the issues that has come up consistently with the the Fire tablets, Fire TV sticks and the Kindle Paperwhite has been a constant stream of complaints about the wireless connectivity of some of these devices. I’ve experienced firsthand a tendency to disconnect from the internet and an inability to find certain wireless signals. I have read thread after thread of complaints like this one on the Amazon forums. Most people say that Amazon doesn’t acknowledge the problem. I had to change all my router setters to different channels just to get my Paperwhite to work on WiFi.

Before I buy a new, more expensive Kindle, I want to know that people are not having  problems with the wireless on the first generation of the new device. I still see posts on this problem continuing with the Paperwhites.

Persistent build problem rumors on the first generation Paperwhite and  Voyage:

When both the first generation Paperwhite and the Kindle Voyage first came out, there were a lot of comments about the uneven light and off  colors displaying on the screen by the LEDs on the device. I still hear rumors about this problem with the Voyage, along with reports of bad pixels as well as pixels that are stuck on the screen.

This is not just a minor update. This is a totally redesigned device. But since that’s the case, and particularly since the Oasis has a substantially higher price point than the previous models, I want to make sure that this is a really solid build. I don’t have a problem waiting for the Oasis 2 if this one has problems that need to be addressed.

Lack of improvements:

One of the curses of modern technology development is the concept of incremental hardware upgrades. Yes the Oasis has a few shiny new abilities. Buttons? Sure. Asymmetrical design and hibernation mode sound interesting. The accelerometer? Not such a big deal for me as I find the ones on the Fire tablets too sensitive for the slight angle that I read at in bed. And thinner? Meh. I am still going to want a cover to protect the device, even if it doesn’t have a battery. And thinness as the expense of battery life is not a good trade off in my opinion.

But what else doesn’t it have?Amazon still doesn’t have a waterproof e-reader. Are they ever going to bring back an e-ink reader with text to speech ability? I still want bluetooth capability so I can connect an external keyboard for notes in non-fiction books. I want to turn pages without using my hands! I want more incremental font choice than the eight Amazon gives us. And with my vision problems, I want weighted fonts that have more contrast for my eyes.

So yes, the Oasis has some good new features, but not enough right now to justify an expensive upgrade.

To be clear, this does not mean that I won’t buy the latest Kindle model. Before I paid $400 for my first generation Kindle back in early 2008, I actually spent several months reading reviews and feedback about the device. Since I had worked with technology for years, I wanted to make sure that I could live with it if the device quickly became obsolete or the quality wasn’t worth the price.  And for what it’s worth, I passed on the Kindle Voyage. So for now, I will be watching reviews and customer forums very carefully to see if this is a device I want to spend my money on.

So how about you? If you bought one, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you decided not to buy,let me know that, too. Were your reasons the same as mine?

Kindle keyboard cover pix © Glinda Harrison/Ebook Evangelist