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BW Businessworld

Gadgets & Gizmos: Reading Just Got Lighter

Inspired by paper, Amazon has designed the new Kindle Oasis to just 'disappear,' as it's that weightless

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It isn’t as if kindle users were looking for a lighter device. Amazon’s e-reader, in all versions on the line-up, can hardly be accused of being a heavy gadget.

But want it or not, they’re getting it. That is, if they’re willing to spend Rs 23,999. This is the eighth generation of the Kindle, with the basic one starting out at around Rs 5,000 if you’re a regular Amazon user. So what is it about the Oasis that warrants the hefty price tag?

The Kindle Oasis has to be experienced to be understood. It’s one of those gadgets that’s difficult to describe because “so light” and “so easy to hold” doesn’t quite convey what it really feels like in the hand.

The Oasis is honestly so light you can see that they’re trying to beat paper at its own game. It’s a 131-gram wonder. It’s 20 per cent lighter than all the other Kindles, but that really begins to mean something only when you find it’s practically weightless in your hand. It’s become smaller, and yet the screen size is the same. The huge bezels on older Kindles have been done away with. Earlier, you may have used those to hold the e-reader, but now you don’t need to. On one side, you have a slightly thicker bezel that shifts the centre of gravity towards the holding hand and functions as a grip. Right were the thumb rests are two buttons for flipping the page. I find that an important addition to the experience of reading for a long time — it doesn’t work to keep reaching out and swiping the page. The nice part is you can shift hands and as you turn the device upside down, the text will rotate to make it usable for the other hand.

Also, on that extended bezel is a magnetic connector. This is where you snap in the little case — which is the other part of the story of the Oasis. The case, which thankfully comes with the Kindle, adds a little bit of weight to the e-reader giving you the option of reading something that is at least closer to the weight of a book. The case covers the front and switches the Oasis screen on and off. A portion of the back remains uncovered but Amazon assures me that the Kindle may be small, but it is tough. The case has a surprise in store. It adds battery juice to the main device. When you charge the Kindle, you do so with its case using an ordinary micro USB charger. The device gets charged first, and then the case. When it’s done, the device discharges first and the case has stored up charge enough to keep the Kindle going. Together, Amazon claims that amounts to months of battery life — though that’s yet to be tested out since it just launched. If you want to retain the charge in the case longer, pull it off as you read, snapping it back on when you’re done. Amazon says its new hibernation mode also contributes to long battery life.

Being as light as it is, the Oasis is definitely one for those who read for long hours. The fact that you can move it from one hand to the other also protects you from repetitive stress injury and hand fatigue in general.

The Oasis doesn’t feature the adaptive lighting of the earlier Voyage but it is brighter with 60 per cent more LEDs which are much better tucked away on the side so that they don’t distract the eye and light up the screen more evenly.

However, the Kindle Oasis isn’t for everyone. It’s only the most consistent and avid readers that would consider it in the first place. Plus, it’s also a luxury Kindle. Considering every other connected device can work with the Kindle app and that there are cheaper Kindles in the lineup, it’s really the big spender who will put down Rs 23,999 for this beautifully upgraded device.