Showing posts with label Kindle Oasis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kindle Oasis. Show all posts

Saturday, 6 October 2018

What processor is the Kobo Forma using?

Kobo, on their official page, isn't very clear about the processor that runs on the Kobo Forma. You need to visit their media library webpage to find out that the Forma's processor is the same one that runs on the older Aura ONE, i.e. the single-core NXP i.MX6. The Kindle Oasis uses a more capable 1GHZ dual-core i.MX7D processor. The difference between the single-core i.MX6 and dual-core i.MX7 is noticeable - the Oasis is zippier than the Kobo Aura ONE. It is odd that Kobo decided to stick with the same processor considering the Forma is meant to be their now premium e-reader. Maybe the selection of the same processor was a trade-off due to the Forma's E-Ink's Mobius screen technology.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Further reflections on the Kindle Oasis

My review of the Kindle Oasis was positive. There is a lot to like about the Oasis but there are certain things that now bother me about the device after prolonged use. Below are the main issues:
  • Battery life is poor for an e-reader. The Kindle Oasis 2 has a 1000 mAh battery capacity and I found the device drains completely after two days of continuous use. To compare, the Kobo Aura One has a 1200mAh capacity and after Kobo’s recent firmware updates lasts longer than the Oasis 2. The Kindle Oasis re-charges fast so that somewhat makes up for the poor battery life. 
  • The text is sharp, but the contrast isn’t good. Text appears dark grey rather than inky black. I even found the Kindle Basis has darker text (see comparison picture below). Due to the sub-standard contrast, I tend to bold text to make it appear darker. To be fair, E-Ink has never reached the deep black you get on a Super Amoled screen. CLEARInk promises to deliver superior blacks but we haven’t yet seen a consumer e-reader with the technology. 
  • I don’t like the form factor. Amazon claims the uneven design makes it easier to hold. The original Amazon case was designed to make it easy to remove the Oasis 2 and read one-handed. This was a device designed to be used without a case. There is a problem: when reading the device without a case the metallic back is cold to the hand. The thin edges also make the e-reader feel fragile. It would’ve been a better idea if Amazon released an anti-knock bumper case for the Oasis 2 instead of the now-withdrawn official case that doesn’t completely cover the device. The Kobo Aura One’s all-plastic design might be utilitarian, but it works. Plus, the Aura One’s design makes finding a good case easier. I use a Belkin iPad Mini case that fits the device perfectly. 
In my view, the contrast issue is the biggest problem. An e-reader does one thing and should do it well – the faded text is a drawback in that regard. The Oasis is a good e-reader, but it does not offer anything exceptional beyond the extra screen size to justify its price. Considering screen size, the Kobo Aura One is larger and cheaper.

Text darkness comparison: Kindle Oasis Vs. Kindle Basic (click to enlarge)

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Kindle Oasis 2 accessories

If you wish to use a case for the Kindle Oasis then a third party cover/sleeve is necessary since Amazon withdrew their official version. So far, options are limited. Below is a short list of alternative accessories:
  • Moko specialize in Kindle e-reader and Fire tablet accessories. The Moko case does cover the Oasis completely, unlike the official Amazon case, but does not provide a flat reading surface when open. The case is not perfect and the quality does not compare to Amazon's official covers but, so far, it is the best option. I use the 'Almond Blossoms' Moko case and the painting's print quality is good. Another issue is the cover's weak magnets; when closed the front cover can move. 
  • If you do not mind holding the Oasis bare then a sleeve is a good option to cover the device when travelling. The Amazon Basics eight-inch sleeve, not technically a third party accessory, fits the Oasis perfectly and provides adequate padding. The eight-inch sleeve also fits the Oasis with a case on. 
  • Fintie is another manufacturer that produces Kindle cases. I haven’t tested the cover and so can’t judge its quality. One issue that put me off is the cover’s padded vinyl feel. 
A final point: I would avoid any case with straps, even if advertised compatible with the Oasis. The main issue is the design of the Oasis with one end being thicker. At the thinner end, the straps cover the bottom corners of the screen.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Oasis PDF support correction

In a previous post regarding the Oasis's PDF support, I stated the following:
I found it useful that the Oasis’s buttons only turn to the next page of a PDF document, rather than scroll down a page; this is a good implementation as it removes any confusion between page scrolling and page turning.
I mainly read PDF files in landscape mode, due to the restricted seven inch screen estate, and, consequently, didn't notice the mistake made in the above observation (also, recently, I've predominately been reading e-books). To clarify, tap to scroll or using the buttons perform the exact same function in a zoomed-in PDF document: i.e., both enable the user to scroll down a page and turn to the next one when a page is completed. Unfortunately, the implementation of this function is buggy and the device, sometimes, for no reason, zooms-in further. In addition, when scrolling to the next page, the Oasis does not jump to the top of the page. As a result, depending on the PDF file, some lines could be accidentally missed. To ensure a page-turn starts at the top of a page it then becomes necessary to drag manually upwards.

To resolve these issues with tap/button-click to scroll, the best option, in my view, is to scroll a page by dragging downwards when zoomed-in. After completing a page, again to avoid the tap to scroll function, first zoom-out with a double tap and then follow this by a tap/button-click to turn the page. In the next page, repeat the double-tap to zoom-in and drag to scroll downwards. This option might be cumbersome but it is workable and makes PDF portrait reading more stable.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Kindle Oasis Review: The Oasis sets the new benchmark for an e-reader

Without doubt, the latest iteration of Kindle Oasis is the best e-reader from Amazon. Yet, this is expected considering the pricing and premium tag. The question is if the device offers that much extra to justify the price differential in comparison to other e-readers. Overall, while Amazon should have done more to distinguish the Oasis, the device sets the benchmark for a feature rich and immersive e-reading experience.

An a-symmetric design that doesn’t work 

I am not a fan of the device’s design. The metallic back, without a case, is cold to the hand and the device’s lopsided design makes it uneven to hold. Amazon designed their official case to attach magnetically to the thicker end to provide a flat reading surface. Unfortunately, this leaves part of the metallic back exposed when the case is closed (Amazon withdrew the official case due to design flaws).

The buttons are a real plus. They are located at the thicker end and make page turning so much easier with one-handed reading. The buttons can be used left and right-handed, as the Oasis supports automatic rotation.

Extra-size makes a difference

The extra inch makes a significant difference. The device is seven inch across and this means a thirty percent increase in reading screen estate. There is also extra width; the device’s width is closer to the Aura One than the Paperwhite. I find the extra space helps with text immersion and the extra width makes PDF text more legible in landscape mode.

Nice screen but nothing special

If you are coming from the Kindle Paperwhite then you will notice little difference in screen quality (both devices come with an E-Ink Carta screen and 300 DPI). I found the Oasis’s contrast slightly lacking but the text sharp.

The adaptive front-light has twelve LEDs that produce uniform lighting with little shadowing. The front-light is the best I’ve seen on an e-reader and significantly better than the Kobo Aura One. The Kindle Oasis, unlike the Aura One, does not support front-light colour shifting for night-time reading.

Kobo Aura One vs. Kindle Oasis front-light comparison 

Solid and stable software

As stated in a review of the Kindle Basic, Amazon’s Kindle software is feature rich and stable (I have provided an overview of the Kindle’s operating system in the Kindle Basic review. Also, I have previously posted on the Kindle’s good PDF support here). Amazon runs the near same software on all its e-readers. Software differences that do exist cater for device specific hardware features e.g. Bluetooth support and adaptive display lighting.

One software issue that continues to frustrate is the limited control over text display. Font size options are set in absolute size and the difference between, for example, size two and three is too disproportionate (the issue is accentuated with a relatively high 300 DPI screen). A possible solution, to get something between size three and four, is to increase font-weight to two. Unfortunately, this option only works with AZW3 e-books. Hopefully, in the future, there will be a software update that extends font weight options to MOBI e-books.

The Oasis comes with in-built Bluetooth support and Audible integration. I would recommend going for the 32GB Oasis if Audio books are something important (audio books take a lot of storage). Personally, I find something like a smart-phone, laptop or tablet better suited for audio books.

Battery life & waterproofing

This is Amazon’s first e-reader with waterproofing. I haven’t tested the feature but Amazon advertise the device with an IPX8 rating that can withstand immersion in up to 2 metres of fresh water for one hour.

I expected better battery-life, considering the pricing. Based on personal estimation, I found the Oasis’s battery life to be behind the Paperwhite but still last longer than the Aura One. This is not surprising as the Paperwhite has a larger battery capacity (the Paperwhite has a 1320 mAh battery capacity. In comparion, the Kindle Oasis 2 has a 1000 mAh battery capacity). Of course, battery life depends on, for example, front-light intensity, indexing and WiFi.

Too expensive for an e-reader?

Is the Oasis too expensive for an e-reader? Many technology websites answer in the affirmative. I think the device is dedicated to the e-reading community and for this segment of users, the Oasis might be worth-it.

The better question to ask, directed at dedicated e-readers, is if the Oasis is worth-it considering the existence of, for example, the cheaper Kobo H20 and Aura One? In my view, if it is merely a question of hardware then the Aura One would be the better choice. Even so, Amazon’s superior and polished software experience makes the Oasis the better overall e-reader.

Verdict

Initially, when the Oasis was released, I judged the Oasis to be priced too high for what it offers. After using the device, I have change my mind. Yes, the bigger screen finally distinguishes the Oasis compared to the Paperwhite and Voyage. However, more than just hardware, the software is what makes the Oasis standout. Most things just work better, compared to other e-readers e.g. smoother highlighting, syncing of personal documents across Amazon devices/apps, consideration of PDF support and the ability to export annotations in different formats etc.

The downside with the Oasis is that it is not innovative enough. I expect more from a high-end Kindle e-reader. For example, stylus support, a larger screen, better contrast and improved battery life. I think the broader issue is not just cost but also Amazon’s conservative strategy in the development of its e-readers.

To conclude, before the Oasis, the Aura One was the benchmark for a larger e-reader. Yet, if you are willing to go one inch smaller, the Oasis is the one to go for.

Friday, 1 December 2017

PDF support Comparison: Kindle Oasis vs. Kobo Aura One

I’ll be dedicating a longer post to review the Kindle Oasis. In this post I’ll compare the PDF capabilities of the Kindle Oasis and the Kobo Aura One. This isn’t a real contest, the Kindle’s PDF software is vastly superior.

The biggest issue is that Kobo doesn’t allow the user to interact with a PDF document’s text. Instead, what we have is a PDF viewer with some basic tools to fit text to width, fit text to page and to switch either to landscape or portrait mode. It is possible to Navigate table of contents if the PDF supports the feature. Pinch to zoom is a mess but there is the option to incrementally zoom-in via a size scaling bar. There is no option to tap to scroll down a page; to scroll down the user needs to drag downwards. The method is frustrating and slow, as you need to wait for the e-ink display to catch-up with your movements. Again, the biggest issue, other than the slow and frustrating navigation of PDF documents, is that you can’t highlight text, write notes or look-up definitions.

Double tap to zoom, tap to scroll & turning document page (Kindle Oasis)

The Kindle's PDF software allows the user to view a page in portrait or landscape mode, similar to the Kobo Aura One. The user also has the option to change margin size (there are three options). Pinch to zoom is not the best but still better than Kobo’s version of the feature. The best way to zoom-in, in portrait mode, is to double tap on a page. Double tapping removes the margins and, depending on the page size of the PDF, renders text legible in portrait mode. Further, tap to scroll is supported, whether the document is zoomed-in or not. I found it useful that the Oasis’s buttons only turn to the next page of a PDF document, rather than scroll down a page; this is a good implementation as it removes any confusion between page scrolling and page turning. I’ve created an animated GIF (see above) that demonstrates how to zoom-in to remove excessive margins, scroll down a page and then turn a page using the buttons.

One issue that is bothersome is the Kindle's activation of a full page refresh when scrolling or turning a page (with e-books, it is possible to turn-off a full page refresh with every page turn). Finally, all Kindle e-readers allow the user to highlight text, take notes, look-up words in the dictionary, Wikipedia (if on-line) and translate words (of course, this depends on the nature of the PDF document. For example, none of these features are supported with a scanned PDF document).

Update: I've written a correction to this post here.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Kindle Oasis first impressions

Hardware-wise, using the latest generation of the Kindle Oasis feels different to other Kindle e-readers. The larger screen size contributes to this sense of difference, but the biggest issue, in my opinion, is the quirky design. I understand the bump in the first generation served a purpose: to provide a connection point for the battery case. This generation doesn't come with a similar case and I find the bump makes the device uneven and awkward to hold (more so with a case on the device).  The buttons are great, and they make turning pages so much easier with one-handed reading. Hopefully, a full review will come soon. 

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

What to expect with an updated Kindle Paperwhite?

The current Kindle Paperwhite was released spring 2015 and, I believe, the three year mark will see the release of an update (Spring 2018). The updated Paperwhite will probably keep the six inch screen - the seven inch size being restricted to the Oasis - but get the majority of hardware features and near all software features of the Oasis. This means expect a device that comes with waterproofing, Bluetooth support, a lighter and more compact form factor and a slight bump in processor power. Hardware features that will stay the same include the same number of front light LEDs, 4GB storage and a 300 PPI E-Ink Carta screen. If the Voyage is updated, rather than discontinued, then it will probably get an upgrade in the number of LEDs and 8 GB storage, to justify, in comparison to the Paperwhite, its higher pricing. Software will be near identical to the Oasis (Amazon aims to keep firmware features the same, with slight differences related to hardware differences between the different Kindles) and that means Audible integration with the updated Paperwhite.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Kindle Oasis and PDF support

KOReader, in comparison to Amazon's native Kindle operating system, offers more features for PDF documents. However, KOReader's software is not stable and the interface is convoluted; the KOReader project is an excellent community driven project but there has been no stable release since November 2015. Thus, to get the right version to work with recent devices, e.g. the Kobo Aura One, it is necessary to download and install a nightly build.

Despite the extra features that KOReader supports, I still prefer Kindle's software. In my opinion, what makes the Kindle's software preferable is its simplicity. The menus are simple and clear - there is one display settings menu that changes orientation, margins and increases contrast. The pinch to zoom, relative to other E-Ink e-readers, works well. Further, highlighting is smooth and dictionary, Wikipedia and translation look-up are all supported. In other words, Amazon put some thought into their PDF support and get the necessary features right. This good PDF support is a significant factor that makes the recently announced Kindle Oasis, with its extra screen estate, an attractive e-reader, despite its relatively high pricing.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Second generation Kindle Oasis released

Amazon released an updated version of their premium Kindle - the Kindle Oasis. I still think the Oasis does not justify its price and the label 'premium' is more marketing than anything substantial. However, at least with this iteration there is something, on paper, that justifies its existence. The important upgrade is the screen size - the updated 7 inch screen is the first non-six inch e-reader that Amazon has released since the Kindle DX. The size increase, finally, is a welcome addition but the size does not justify the device's pricing; the same point, to a lesser extent, applies to waterproofing, Audible integration, 8GB storage and greater number of LEDs for a more uniform front-light.

I don't expect a refresh for the Kindle Paperwhite or Voyage soon and when a refresh arrives it is possible these device will not get the larger screen. I think the significant demand for a larger screen - something admitted by an Amazon employee here - is being used to differentiate the high-end Oasis (the first generation offered relatively little for its 'premium' label) in comparison to other Kindles and to entice users to purchase the higher-end device. In my opinion, at the moment, the Paperwhite remains the best Kindle to purchase. For a larger e-reader the better option is to go for the 7.8 inch Kobo Aura One or the first generation 7 inch Kobo Aura H20.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

For & Against the Kindle Oasis

Generally the Kindle Oasis brought what was predicted, with incremental updates, including premium design features and a charging case, though not solar powered, that is more than an accessory. Surprisingly, there is no Bluetooth or waterproof features. Some complaints and objections came with the Oasis’s release, with its unjustified high price for little relative improvement. Overall, the Oasis, in my opinion, does not offer sufficiently substantial improvements to warrant its ‘premium’ tag or its price difference to the Kindle Paperwhite, let alone the Kindle Voyage. Below are arguments for and against the Kindle Oasis:

For the Kindle Oasis 

The Kindle Oasis offers an improved front-light and a case that is more than an accessory. In regards to front light improvements, we have ten LEDs, rather than the eight on the Voyage, resulting in a more evenly lit display. In this improvement Amazon aims to mimic the feel of ink on paper and we have what is better than anything on Amazon’s own Kindle range or available from other manufacturers. On the other hand, the bundled case is advertised to buttresses battery life to up to nine weeks. If we Consider the Oasis’s super lightweight (131 grams), better front-light, intuitive ergonomics and a bundled case that significantly prolongs battery life, then we could arguably justify an increase of £100 compared to the Voyage.

Further, regarding pricing, premium end smartphones retail considerably higher; the question arises if premium smartphone pricing, for example an Apple iPhone or Samsung S7, are more worthy for their cost. Further, many websites viewed the Kindle Oasis to be “crazy expensive” but this points to a broader issue with technology publications in how they often carry the bias of individual reviewers and what they envisage as use case scenarios for consumer devices. Thus e-readers are considered secondary devices, while smartphones would be primary ones, and some do not comprehend a ‘premium’ single-use device. Other technology writers seem to believe that many e-readers do the same thing and it would be frivolous to justify upgrades similar to upgrade cycles with smartphones. The point here is that the Kindle Oasis is intended for dedicated e-readers and, accordingly, they would want the best possible reading experience. For this intended segment of users an e-reader could be a primary device and the Kindle Oasis is a reading tool that beats anything out there for its size and features.

Against the Kindle Oasis 

Overall, the case is stronger against the Kindle Oasis. The main problem is in a device that maintains the same display size, e-ink technology (Carta), 300 dpi and even slightly worse contrast ratio to other Kindle models. These are hardware features on the substantive side of any e-reader; considering this, there is little reason to upgrade to or choose this Kindle over the Kindle Paperwhite (a similar argument could be made against the Voyage compared to the Paperwhite). In regards to a case prolonging battery life than e-ink e-readers offer more than enough battery. The same can be said with an improved front-light, mimicking the feel of printed paper - the Paperwhite’s front light is bright and even enough to make little difference.

What could make the Oasis worthy of its inflated price would be something that significantly improves the end-user’s reading experience with upgraded hardware, due to the near identical firmware features across Kindle devices. Hence this means either a larger display, e.g. an eight inch one, or Liquavista colour to complement a larger display. For the end-user hardware differentiation means better functionality with PDF files and text immersion with e-books. However, this would likely go against Amazon’s ethos of selling hardware as a gateway to their content. The point of the Oasis is not to just provide the best possible e-reader, at the moment, but to specifically provide the best possible e-reader to access Amazon’s Kindle ecosystem. For Amazon, It may not be effective to develop firmware to make use of hardware differentials, as the Kindle is primarily viewed as a device to access Amazon e-books, rather than a multi-functional e-reading hardware platform. The same may be stated with Kobo’s strategy, after exiting the tablet segment and concentrating on e-readers.