I read a lot of books, and as I’ve posted about before, the lion share of those books these days are Kindle e-books.
E-books aren’t for everyone, but for the last several years they’ve been my preferred way to consume a book. I love the way I can buy a book and immediately start reading it, the fact that I can quickly search the book for specific words or phrases, that my large library of e-books is accessible from anywhere, and that it doesn’t take up any space in the house. (A house that, despite an epic cleanup last year, still has a lot of space taken up with shelves and mounds of traditional books.)
I started with a Kindle 2 in 2009, and after a year or so of tentative experimentation, pretty much went all digital. After a while, I discovered the iOS Kindle app and started reading on my phone and iPad. Within a few months, I almost never used the old Kindle device and eventually retired it.
The nice thing about reading books on iOS devices (and occasionally Android ones) was that I could see the color version of the book cover and the user interface was much more responsive. But it’s always had a couple of drawbacks: an unreadable display outside in the sun and eyestrain caused by the screen backlight. Seeing my phone screen in the sun is frequently an issue although I rarely attempt to read books outside, but the eyestrain thing has been an issue from time to time. I’ve always handled it by minimizing the screen brightness and taking frequent breaks.
But given the improvement I’ve seen in my friends’ new Kindle Paperwhite devices, I decided it was time to try a dedicated Kindle again. And as a voracious reader, I felt justified in splurging for the top of the line model: the Kindle Oasis. (In reality, the price of this model is in the neighborhood of what I paid for the old device years ago.)
My first impression of this thing was how small it is. It’s not much bigger than my iPhone 7 and seems to be just as light. It’s definitely smaller and lighter than the iPad I often read on. But its battery life is far longer. The included cover comes with an additional battery, which Amazon promises will last for months. (Although that promise is based on 30 minutes of reading a day. Yeah right. I might get a week or two out of it, but that will be a lot more than I get out of the phone or tablet.)
The user interface on these new models is much more responsive than what I recall from my old one. It’s still not as responsive as iOS devices, but then it costs a lot less, so pluses and minuses. And the display is much sharper and clearer than the old model. It really does look like printed text. With the backlight off (it’s only needed in the dark), I was able to read from the device for hours with no more eyestrain than I would have gotten from reading a paper book. For reading straight text, it’s working like a charm.
The loss of color is still noticeable when perusing the book library or catalog, but the amount of time I spend doing that is fleeting compared to the time actually spent in the books themselves. I’m still waiting to see how well this device does for books with diagrams and tables, an area where I think Kindle on all devices has struggled somewhat, sometimes due to shoddy formatting from the publisher, but often simply due to limitations in the platform.
So, all in all, I’m pretty happy with it after a week of usage. I had told a couple of friends I was picking one up, and they wanted to know my impressions, hence this post. I’m definitely not going to stop reading on my phone when waiting for an appointment or in the grocery check-out line, and the iPad or laptop may still get some action for books with lots of tables and illustrations, but the Oasis seems poised to get the lion share of my home reading.