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I've tried every Kindle and I keep coming back to this one
I’ve been an avid reader most of my life. Growing up, there was rarely a moment when you’d spot me without a Dirk Pitt adventure or an Isaac Asimov in hand. Ask any reader, and you’ll hear them wax lyrical about the collective nostalgia surrounding the smell of paper, the cracked spine of a well-read tome, and summers spent engrossed in books. However, as a digital native, technology intrigues me. More specifically, technology that sits at the cross-section of convenience and single-minded utility. So when the Amazon Kindle launched way back in 2006, my curiosity was piqued and I had to get myself one.
It didn’t take long for the Kindle to become a constant companion while traveling for work or pleasure. The ability to carry a few hundred books in a lightweight device? Sign me up for that. While I wasn’t quite ready to ditch my physical books quite yet, that changed with 2010’s Kindle Keyboard. The e-book reader married an improved screen with reduced dimensions, all while keeping the feature that mattered the most to me: page turn buttons. In fact, it wasn’t till the Kindle Oasis that I finally relinquished my Kindle Keyboard.
Physical controls make all the difference
It’s a hill I’ll die on, but the page turn buttons on a Kindle are a make-or-break feature when it comes to complete immersion. Yes, touch screens are great but the added friction of having to lift your finger and tap the display to move on to the next page is a small but significant hindrance to the flow of reading.
The upgraded Kindle Paperwhite marries a high-tech feature set with an affordable price.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried to get accustomed to the new Kindle Paperwhite. My colleague Rita reviewed the e-book reader a short while back and swears that it is, by all measures, a fantastic step forward for the Kindle brand. In fact, it gives you almost all the features of Amazon’s more premium offerings and one-ups them with USB-C charging and even wireless charging (for the Signature Edition). Despite that, on most days, I found myself dismissing the Paperwhite and reaching for my trusty Kindle Oasis instead.
While the Paperwhite’s smaller physical dimensions and touchscreen display allow for better portability, it doesn’t necessarily translate to a better reading experience. The very act of having to lift a finger or thumb is a small but noticeable distraction while engrossed. The Oasis avoids that altogether with its offset button placement. I usually nestle my thumb on the edge of the Oasis and tap down when ready to turn a page. Simple, convenient, all without breaking immersion.
The physical buttons also go a long way towards avoiding accidental touches. While I did get used to the touchscreen controls in my time with the Paperwhite, it is a constant complaint I hear from users of touch-only Kindles. The slimmer bezels on the latest Paperwhite give you even lesser space to park your thumb, making inadvertent touches much more likely. I can attest to the fact that there’s nothing more annoying than accidentally flipping the page in the midst of a gripping paragraph and it’s just one more reason for me to stick with my Oasis.
It’s the little things that matter
It’s not just page turn buttons that have kept me hooked on the Oasis. The aspect ratio of the Kindle Oasis is unique amongst Amazon’s e-book reader portfolio. The premium e-book reader trades the taller display of the Paperwhite for a wider screen and a beveled back that gives it more grip.
I was skeptical about the asymmetric back when I first started using the Oasis. However, within days, I discovered that it was a lot more ergonomic in practice than it looks. Hoisting it at odd angles during marathon reading sessions is surprisingly comfortable and a significant step up over more traditional e-reader options.
Combined with the asymmetric back, the physical page turn buttons elevate the reading experience by distilling the Kindle down to what it is all about — reading. Creature comforts like additional LEDs give the Oasis more control over backlighting, while the glass and metal design is more premium too. Flourishes like automatic screen rotation make the device convenient to use, no matter which hand you are holding it in. Despite being a two-year-old model, the Kindle Oasis proves that it is the little things that matter.
Objectively speaking, the new Paperwhite outpaces the Kindle Oasis by a margin. USB-C, wireless charging, as well as a large display all add up. More importantly, a significantly lower price tag compared to the Kindle Oasis makes it fantastic value for new buyers or readers on a budget.
Reading is all about the experience and the Kindle Oasis justifies the premium positioning through subtle flourishes.
However, the joy of reading is rarely burdened by objectivity. While I initially thought that the refreshed Paperwhite might sound the death knell of the Kindle Oasis, I’m almost glad to be proven wrong. An e-book reader that starts at $279 is by no means affordable, but just like the smartphone industry, the premium additions have to be experienced to be believed.
There’s something magical about the tactility of turning a page while reading a book and the Oasis captures that beautifully. The ergonomics and even backlighting ensure that it delivers a consistent reading experience, no matter the setting.
Don’t get me wrong, I still cherish my small but curated library of a few hundred books, but the Kindle Oasis gives me that same joy in a much more modern package. For most users, the Kindle Paperwhite might be a better purchase, but until the day Amazon doesn’t upgrade the Oasis or tick off some of the requests on our Amazon Kindle wishlist, I’m convinced that I’ll be sticking to my trusty ol’ reader.