Sunday, October 15, 2017

The New Kindle Oasis- the Ultimate Travel Kindle

Amazon has finally done four things with the Kindle series that readers have long been requesting- make it waterproof, add more memory for storing more books and periodicals, include a larger screen, and restore Audible Books capability. The new Kindle Oasis is available for pre-order and will be delivered October 31.

My day job as a charter and air tour pilot means I'm away from home for up to two weeks at a time. While most of my fellow pilots fill their spare time with apps on their phones and tablets, I'm an avid reader and I've owned a Kindle e-book reader since the second generation came out around 8 years ago. Currently, I have the Kindle Voyage with 3G.

The Oasis has a 7-inch, 300 DPI screen, giving it the same resolution as a printed page. (Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite also has a 300 DPI screen and was the first e-reader to match the printed page in resolution.) The new Oasis base price is $249.99 which gives you Wi-Fi connectivity with Special Offers (ads that display on the lock screen, never while you're reading.)

The Oasis comes with 8 GB of internal memory for storing books and periodicals. That doesn't sound like a lot, but e-books don't take much space. My Voyage has 4 GB of memory, with 2.7 GB free. And I buy a lot of books, plus I have several large collections such as the complete Mark Twain and complete Jack London. For another $30, you can increase the memory to 32 GB, which literally lets you have a small library in your hand.

You can add free worldwide 3G connectivity through the AT&T network for $50, and finally, you can get rid of the Special Offers for $20. This brings the cost of a loaded Oasis to $349.99. And you'll probably want a case- the Amazon textured fabric cover is water-safe and runs $49.99. Last, you may want to get a screen protector, which is $12.99 for a pack of two.

The adaptive front light on the Oasis means you can read in any condition from bright sunlight to pitch blackness, and the light automatically adjusts to the lighting conditions. The adaptive lighting on my current Kindle, the Voyage, works very well, even dimming gradually as I read in dim light, as my eyes adjust. The Oasis promises even better adaptive lighting than the current Oasis and the Voyage.

Oddly, even though I always install screen protectors on my phones and tablets, I've never used screen protectors on any of my Kindles and I've never damaged the screen. Maybe that's because I always use a cover and my reading environment is generally more stable than situations where I use my phone and tablet. But I'm going to try a screen protector on the new Oasis.

There's a lot of misunderstanding on how the free 3G works on the Kindle e-readers. On the Kindles, you only pay for the 3G at initial purchase. There's no contract with AT&T and no further payments. On the other hand, the 3G is primarily used for shopping in the Kindle bookstore and synchronizing your content. You can use Wikipedia, the dictionary, and translate passages, but you can't surf the web or check your email. The huge advantage of the 3G option for those who travel a lot, like me, is that you can shop the store and buy books nearly anywhere. When you finish a book in a series, you don't have to wait for the next one- you can buy it and it will be on your Oasis in a few seconds. Or if a friend tells you about a book they recommend, you can pull our your Kindle and buy it right then, before you forget.

When Amazon brought out their line of Fire tablets, they removed audio from the Kindle e-readers, pushing customers who want to listen to Amazon's Audible Books (as well as music) toward the tablets. Though I'm not one of them, many avid readers like to listen to audiobooks as well, and if you have both the print and Audible version of on your Fire tablet, they are automatically synchronized. This means you can listen to a book on the way to work, and then pick up right where you left off when you switch to the print version, say over lunch break. With the new Oasis, Amazon has restored audiobooks capability via built-in Bluetooth, so you'll need Bluetooth headphones or speakers to use this feature. And not having speakers or a headphone jack on the Oasis itself helps keep it thin and light.

The Oasis will be here October 31 and I can hardly wait!


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