Kindle Oasis is beautiful, pricey and still not like reading a book

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Gillmor Gang: iPad Prose

I’ve spent the last week trying to pretend the new Kindle Oasis is the same as reading a real book. It’s not.

I love books. I love Kindle’s e-readers and was hoping this was the melding of the two.

That real book feel was part of the inspiration for the latest Kindle in the family and why it comes with a protruding one-sided grip handle able to flip from left to right to give it that “book spine feel.”

But there’s something about holding a real book in your hands, thumbing through and dog-earing the pages, underlining and making notes.

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Side view of Kindle Oasis. Super thin and comes with a handle for gripping like a book spine.

You know your book, you know you can easily flip to the page with that one passage. You can spend your afternoon rapt in good literature, cupping the old book’s spine, smelling the dried parchment and traveling to far off imaginary places without moving anywhere at all.

Kindle, unfortunately, isn’t there just yet. But it’s getting closer.

The new, radically different, squarish Oasis design is beautiful and arguably enticing as the newest shiny e-reader, but like older versions, the latest Kindle also has a lagging touch response – forget about easily thumbing through pages, writing in the margins or quickly pulling up another title. Too tedious.

The visuals aren’t much better than the earlier Voyage, either with the same 300 ppi resolution – though it does have 4 extra built-in LED lights.

And at a starting price of $290, compared to a $190 Kobo Aura H2O or iPad Mini 2 for $270, which does much more than an e-reader, it might be too much for most consumers.

Though the e-ink display is easier on your eyes than an iPad and the added side buttons for flipping pages also seem to help speed up the process a bit.

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Oasis without the dual-battery cover.

Here’s where Oasis wins me over – Travel.

E-readers are better for hauling around than heavy books in general, but the lighter, slimmer, yet surprisingly sturdy Oasis is easy to throw in a bag – the molded polymer housing is made to take a beating – and can give you access to more than 4.4 million books through Amazon’s ever-expanding list of titles (up from 90,000 in 2007); along with a modest 4 GB storage on the device.

The 60-day battery life (when hooked into the dual-battery cover system) also makes Oasis a great travel companion for long voyages.

But Oasis isn’t meant for everyone, just those most devoted to a luxury experience. It’s niche, but a devoted niche of avid Kindle fans.

It really comes down to whether or not you really care about the weight and sturdiness of your e-reader and believe it’s worth the price to pay for that luxury experience.

While I like the upgrades, the difference is slight enough I’m personally okay paying $90 less for the $200 Kindle Voyage.