Kindle Oasis: Who will buy a $290 ebook reader?


Over the years I’ve owned a number of Kindle ebook readers. My latest is the Kindle Paperwhite, which, given that it’s only a little over $100, is not a bad bit of kit, and over the course of a month I devour quite a few books using it.

So, would I consider upgrading to Amazon’s new $290 Kindle Oasis?

In a word, no. And quite honestly, I’m failing to see who this device is supposed to appeal to. Wealthy billionaires with an interest in spaceflight, perhaps?

Yes it’s thin, yes, it’s light, and yes, the battery can last for “months,” but the part that really matters – the display – is the 300 pixels-per-inch unit from the existing Kindle lineup with what appears to be an enhanced backlight. And you know what, I’ve never come across anyone who thought that the display on the $120 Kindle Paperwhite needed “enhancing.”

You don’t even get the free 3G for your $290 (that costs an extra $70). And you also get the ads – sorry, I mean, “special offers” – on the lockscreen (it’s an extra $20 if you want these to disappear).

Here’s another problem with the Kindle Oasis. I’m not sure I need a separate ebook reader anymore. Yes, the e-ink display sure is easy on the eyes, but I’m finding myself doing more and more reading on other devices, especially my iPhone. After all, Amazon has made Kindle content easy to access no matter what device you’re using.

No matter how you look at it, $290 is a lot of money. I can get an iPad mini 2 for that, or a cheap Dell laptop. Or I could ask to borrow an extra $10 and get myself a an Apple Watch.

It’s also a huge jump up from the $200 that the Kindle Voyage retailed for.

Bear in mind that the Kindle has come a long way, price wise. The first-generation Kindle, released in November 2007, sold for $399, while the larger Kindle DX, which debuted January 2010, was a whopping $489. But times have changed, and money buys more hardware than ever, and asking almost $300 for a device which, compared to something like the iPad mini 2, does so little, is going to be a tough sell.

No matter how easy on the eyes the Kindle Oasis is, it’s certainly not easy on the pocket.