Amazon Oasis: Premium E-Reader For A Premium Price

The Kindle Oasis -- the thinnest, lightest, and most expensive Kindle yet -- is a premium e-reader for those who demand the best reading experience possible.
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Amazon hopes its latest Kindle e-reader will appeal to hardcore readers. The company took a new approach in designing this e-reader to make it more comfortable to hold and use. It includes a leather cover that doubles as a portable battery to extend reading time. The only thing holding it back may be the price point. 

The most striking aspect of the Kindle Oasis is the tapered design. The e-reader measures 0.13 inches at its slimmest point, but it has a bulge on one side forming a hand grip. Amazon says this form shifts the center of balance to the reader's palm and allows the device to be held for longer periods of time with less hand fatigue. The Oasis is 20% lighter and 30% thinner (on average) than any other Kindle. The hand grip includes buttons for turning the page, and the screen will rotate to accommodate a left-handed or right-handed user.

The screen is carried over from the Kindle Voyager. It measures 6 inches across the diagonal and boasts 300ppi for clean text. The Oasis's display is illuminated by 10 LEDs, which is more than the 6 found in the Kindle Voyager. Amazon says this allows the Oasis to remain readable in a wider variety of lighting conditions. The grayscale text is lit from the front, not the back, which makes the device easier on the eyes.

Amazon created a removable charging cover for the Kindle Oasis. It attaches to the e-reader with 12 magnets and charges the device when connected. When the cover is removed, the Oasis will wake, and when the cover is placed on the screen, the Oasis will sleep. Between the internal battery and charging cover, the Oasis delivers months of battery life. The leather cover is available in black, merlot, or walnut. It takes the battery about three hours to recharge when plugged in.

The 4GB of internal storage is enough to hold thousands of books. Kindle owners are given unlimited cloud storage of online content. Books can be downloaded via WiFi (a 3G model is available for $70 more). The Kindle Oasis can connect to public and private hotspots, and supports WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security.

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The Kindle Oasis doesn't come cheaply. The WiFi version of the device costs $290 ($310 without ads), which is much more than the $199 Kindle Voyager. The entry-level Kindle costs $80, and the Kindle Paperwhite costs $120. Amazon clearly believes there is a market for this high-end e-reader.

"Any cheap tablet is an e-reader, so if you're buying a Kindle, you're already a committed anomaly," quipped Avi Greengart from Current Analysis. "What I don't understand is how the Kindle Oasis is not waterproof and sandproof."

The tablet is semi-rugged, claims Amazon, but it may not be the best product to take to the beach -- despite its name.

The Kindle Oasis is up for preorder on Amazon's website and will ship beginning April 27.