Kindle Oasis 2 has a bigger screen, but with a shorter battery life, is it worth the money?

E-reader’s bigger screen, waterproofing and faster page turns are offset by a slow wake-up time, reduced battery life and an uncomfortable one-handed reading position, but overall it is an improvement over older models

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 December, 2017, 7:34pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 December, 2017, 7:33pm

For those tired of staring at bright LCD displays for hours, an e-book reader offers a respite not just for weary eyes, but also from distracting smartphone social media notifications. What does Amazon’s latest iteration of the Kindle Oasis e-reader bring to the table?

Design and hardware

The Kindle Oasis 2 has an expansive 7-inch display. Reading felt much roomier thanks to the extra screen real-estate, making older 6-inch models feel cramped in comparison. The larger display doesn’t come at the expense of sharpness, as it contains more pixels to maintain the 300 pixel-per-inch (PPI) count. On the flip side, the device has a slightly wider body and will no longer fit into the back pocket of your jeans like older Kindle models.

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The Oasis 2 adopts the tapered design of the original Oasis model, and is also slightly thinner. This contoured back shrinks to a slim 3.4mm along two-thirds of the device, delivering an ergonomic handgrip when gripped against the palm of one hand. An anodised aluminium back completes the remodel, along with IPX8 waterproofing rated to survive complete immersion in two metres of water for up to an hour.

Though some have complained that the smooth metal back is slip-prone, it felt fine in my hands. A proper case is a must-have though, considering the device’s princely price of US$249 and the propensity of metal to dent when dropped. Moreover, the metal lip lining the front also cuts slightly into your palm when held in one hand without a case, and can be somewhat uncomfortable over long periods.

Software and features

Owners of Amazon’s Kindle e-readers from the last few years would already be acquainted with most of the features on the Oasis 2. The latter adds support for audiobooks over Bluetooth headphones, and retains the two unmarked buttons to advance (or turn back) pages from the first Oasis – the default configuration can be swapped.

What impressed me was the care taken to design the Kindle for ambidextrous use: the design delivers an identical experience whether you grip it with your right or left hand. And swapping the Oasis from your right hand to your left will cause the screen – including your preferred physical button configuration, to invert automatically.

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Fans of audiobooks will be disappointed that the Oasis does not offer the ability to simultaneously listen and read at the same time. And being designed with Amazon’s Audible service in mind, there is also no text-to-speech feature for reading your text-only e-books. And because the Oasis 2 has no built-in speakers or audio ports for corded headphones, you will need your own pair of Bluetooth earphones or car stereo with Bluetooth support.

In my tests, I was able to pair it with a pair of Plantronics headphones and listen without any issues. Toggling between e-book and audio book version brought me to the correct part of the e-book or audio book. Given that an average audio book can easily take up 100MB or more of storage though, it’s a good thing that the base model of the Oasis 2 comes with 8GB of storage space, with option for a 32GB version.

Performance and battery life

Overall, the Oasis 2 felt snappier than earlier versions. The faster turning speed made flipping backwards to look up a name or reference a more pleasant experience, while the physical buttons also made it easier to toggle accurately between pages.

The battery life of the Oasis 2 was rather disappointing, however. I typically read over lunch to unwind, and battery dipped quickly enough that I felt the need to recharge with just over a week of use, compared to almost three weeks on my 2014-era Kindle Paperwhite. In hindsight, it should hardly be surprising considering the scant amount of space for the rechargeable battery.

And when powering on the Oasis 2 after a long stretch of inactivity, I am often greeted with a “Waking up” message as the device takes as many as five seconds to wake up. This is the Oasis going into a deep power saving mode to supposedly help it maintain its charge over a long period of time – it isn’t found in earlier models. I personally found the wait to be annoying for a top-tier device like the Oasis, especially when it cannot be disabled.

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The Oasis 2017 is a sophisticated e-book reader with a beautiful, slimmed-down design and a highly appealing 7-inch screen. It also adds “nice to have” features such as IPX8 waterproofing and support for audiobooks through Bluetooth headsets. The downside is a larger body and a slight hit on battery life. Ultimately, whether it is worth getting really boils down to whether you are willing to pay the premium of owning the newest e-reader on the block.

Key specs

Dimensions: 159mm x 141mm x 8.3mm

Waterproof rating: IPX8

Weight: 194g

Display: 7in touch screen, 300PPI (1,680 x 1,264 pixels)

Built-in light: 12 LEDs + adaptive light sensor

Battery: 6 weeks (30 minutes per day)

Memory: 8GB or 32GB

Colour: graphite with aluminium back

Price: US$249.99 (8GB storage)