Why I spent $350 on an Amazon Kindle e-reader twice, and would do so a third time

Why I spent $350 on an Amazon Kindle e-reader twice, and would do so a third time

“I love the smell of a book.”

“You just can’t beat the feel of a real book.”

“I really enjoy digging through a physical bookstore and finding what I want to read.”

“I guess I’m just old-fashioned.”

These are all things that I’ve heard from people about why they prefer to read physical books instead of digital ones. They’re also people that have never tried the Amazon Kindle Oasis.

And why should they have? It’s an e-reader that starts at $249.99. When I told my friends that I bought the first one for $359 (the 3G model – it started at $289), they asked me what else it does. Unless you really enjoy reading books, and those books tend to be electronic, it’s hard to justify buying an e-reader with an E Ink display for more money than a base model iPad.

XDA VIDEO OF THE DAY

A lot of the people I talk to that still prefer physical books haven’t gone beyond the small screen on their phones to try digital books. Beyond that, some people have tried tablets. But very few of these book lovers have tried an e-reader, or more specifically, one of the Kindles that are popular on Amazon.

When I first decided to get a Kindle, I decided to get a Paperwhite. It was one step up from the base model, but I didn’t think I needed the bells and whistles of the Kindle Voyage, which was the top-tier product at the time.

I absolutely hated the Kindle Paperwhite. Unlike the first and only other Kindle that I had ever purchased – which was the Kindle 4 that was released in 2011 – the Paperwhite didn’t have physical buttons on the sides to turn pages. Remember, that old Kindle didn’t even have a touchscreen (or a frontlight), so buttons were necessary to turn the page. I found this to be a real pain point for the Paperwhite. Without those buttons and having to touch the screen to turn pages, it was nearly impossible to use the device one-handed.

I returned the Kindle Paperwhite. It wasn’t doing anything for me that I really wanted from an e-reader.

Interlude: The pros of using an e-reader

I’ve always used Kindle for my e-books because I use all platforms, and Amazon is the most open among the big ones. I’ve tried Apple, Google, Barnes and Noble Nook, and even Microsoft’s short stint in e-book sales. Amazon also has the best hardware. But ultimately, the services I use tend to be the ones that are most accessible in the most places, and for e-books, that’s Kindle.

Kindle Oasis with comic book open

There are lots of benefits to digital books, and I want to outline that before talking about the Kindle Oasis.

  1. They don’t take up space: I don’t have to carry an extra item in my bag, nor do I have to keep books on a shelf. All of my books are stored on devices.
  2. There’s no more need for bookmarks: Amazon’s Kindle books sync to your account, so no matter if you’re picking up your Kindle device, the Kindle app on your iPad, the web reader online, or the Kindle app on your phone, or anything else, it picks up where you left off. Amazon also owns Audible, which is for audiobooks, and assuming that the title is WhisperSync for Voice-ready, it will even sync your place between the Kindle book and the Audible audiobook.
  3. You don’t have to think about lighting: With e-books, you can read in bed and not have to worry about getting the right lighting that preserves your ambiance and is still bright enough to not hurt your eyes. Kindles have their own lighting, as do tablets and phones.
  4. All of the content is at your fingertips: Just like we can do today with music, movies, and TV shows, you can instantly access any book you want thanks to the Kindle store. This sometimes includes that out-of-print book that you’ve always wanted to get your hands on.

There are also specific benefits to an e-ink e-reader:

  1. Battery life goes from days to weeks: With an E Ink e-reader, battery life simply isn’t something that you think about anymore.
  2. There’s no more glare: If you’re in direct sunlight, an E Ink screen is super-easy to use. You don’t have to worry about adjusting brightness.
  3. Cellular connectivity changes the game: I wasn’t sure which section to include this in, but I mentioned it specifically in reference to e-ink e-readers because Amazon actually offers free cellular service on Kindles, as long as you pay the premium when you buy the device. And why shouldn’t it? You’re using the service to buy its products. Of course, this also means that if you’re reading on a train or somewhere else that doesn’t have Wi-Fi, it’s going to sync your place in the book you’re reading, and you can buy new books on the go.

Introducing the Amazon Kindle Oasis

After I returned my $119 Kindle Paperwhite, I just used a tablet for my reading. The $199 Kindle Voyage didn’t seem like something that would solve my pain points, and if it did, I didn’t think it was worth trying.

Soon after, Amazon announced a new device that I had previously covered in leaks: the Kindle Oasis. I had seen the leaked design, and it seemed like a radical, weird, and frankly dumb idea. But when it was formally announced, it all made sense, and I wanted one.

Hand holding Kindle Oasis

The Kindle Oasis (from the eighth-gen Kindle family) was designed for one-handed use. In fact, it didn’t appear symmetrical, one of the things that made the design seem too radical. One side, referred to as the spine, was thicker, making it easier to grip with one hand. On top of that side were two buttons for turning pages. Moreover, the Oasis was the first Kindle to have an accelerometer, so if one hand got tired, you could move it to the other hand and the screen would know to flip over. Immediately, the right-handed device could become a left-handed device.

That’s not all though, because it weighed just 4.6oz (4.7oz for the 3G model). Since the guts of the device were in the thicker spine, the rest of it – the part that included the 300ppi display – was ultra-thin. It was 0.07-0.18 inches thick, and it was amazing.

Battery cover pins on Kindle Oasis

Considering that this was the thinnest and lightest Kindle ever, Amazon made battery compromises to get there. It came with a battery cover, which would keep it charged for months, according to Amazon.

It was also the most expensive Kindle ever, starting at $289.99. It wasn’t enough for me though. I spent $359.99 on the 3G model. Like I said above, spending the extra for cellular on a Kindle is a no-brainer. Why would I shell out so much money for an e-reader, only to not solve the pain point of connectivity on-the-go?

I absolutely loved this product. It’s the perfect e-reader when I’m out and about, and when I’m lying on my back in bed. This thing was designed mostly without flaws, and I use it to this day.

The one flaw came in the way of the battery case. I always had issues connecting it, and I even had mine replaced at one point. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one.

Along came the second Kindle Oasis…and the compromises

When Amazon announced its second-generation Kindle Oasis, from the ninth generation of Kindle products, I was instantly on board. The first-gen model was what I’d referred to as game-changing tech. It was something that I wasn’t sure I actually needed, and then fit into my life as something that I couldn’t live without. At the time, I’d have been willing to upgrade every year if the improvements were good enough; after all, I belong to the group of people who already have regular upgrade cycles for phones, tablets, and smartwatches.

First and second gen Kindle Oasis models side by side

Still 300ppi, the new Kindle Oasis boasted a bigger screen at seven inches. That sounded nice. Unfortunately, it was also heavier at 6.8oz, and thicker at 0.13-.33 inches. At that point, it wasn’t that much lighter than my 7.6oz Kindle Paperwhite that I had returned. Still, I figured the weight distribution would be mostly in the spine. I bought the 4G LTE model for $349.99.

The big change that made it thicker and heavier wasn’t just the bigger screen; it had a bigger battery, no longer using pins to connect to a battery case. I kept the product, and I enjoyed it, but eventually, I just gravitated back to the first-gen model.

Second gen Kindle Oasis face down

Amazon stuck with this design for the third iteration of the Kindle Oasis (10th-gen), which is the current one. It’s still the best e-reader you can buy, and it now has light temperature adjustments. If you buy one, you’ll absolutely love it. However, that’s also because you probably haven’t experienced the first-gen model.

How Amazon could get me to spend $350 on another Kindle Oasis

All I really want is a Kindle Oasis with the design of the first one and the upgrades that the other models have received. I’d love USB Type-C and for it to be waterproof, maybe with a spec bump for better responsiveness.

I’d also love to see 4G LTE. My original Kindle Oasis came with 3G, and as of 2021 when carriers started shutting down 3G, it doesn’t work anymore. The only way it can access the internet is via Wi-Fi.

One thing that I really don’t care about is battery life, and Amazon needs to stop fighting that battle as well. One of the big selling points of the E Ink e-reader is weeks of battery life, and I’m more than happy to sacrifice the four weeks that I’d get with a regular Kindle and turn it into one or two weeks with something that’s as thin and light as the first one. I think most would feel the same way.

Kindle Oasis stood up displaying The Fall of the Prophets

When it comes to battery life, your usage and your thought process adjusts to what the capabilities of the device are. As I write this, I’m on a train and my phone’s battery is somewhat low, and there’s a low level of anxiety that comes with that. Even with just a week of battery life, charging is still something that’s not a concern on an e-reader. If you get down to charging it once every day or two, that’s when it really becomes a concern. But as long as charging remains an afterthought, it’s fine. There’s no need to push it to months of battery life.

I could be wrong. Everyone I know that has purchased the larger second- or third-gen models absolutely loves it. That’s fine too. Amazon could call this wishlist Kindle as the Kindle Oasis Mini, and I’d buy it in a heartbeat. After all, I spent $349 on the bigger and supposedly better second-gen Kindle Oasis, and the first-gen one is still the one I use.

    The Amazon Kindle Oasis has a seven-inch 300ppi display, it's waterproof, and it comes with a unique design that's made for one-handed use.

About author

Rich Woods
Rich Woods

Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.

We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.