How does Amazon's new Oasis go beyond earlier Kindles?

Amazon's next generation of Kindle e-readers, the Oasis, features a smaller design and enhanced technical specifications designed to refocus on the reading experience.

Courtesy of Amazon.com, Inc.
Amazon's new Kindle Oasis with its leather charging cover.

More than eight years after the launch of its first Kindle, Amazon is poised to launch a smaller, lighter e-reader with a months-long battery life.

The Kindle Oasis, unveiled Tuesday, will be the eighth generation of the e-reader platform that many thought would be obsolete by now. The original Kindle launched alongside the iPhone. Smartphone saturation has skyrocketed since, leaving the single-purpose Kindle family with a small niche in the market. Despite that, the Kindle persists, and Amazon hopes the Oasis will prove its best attempt yet at providing a book-like experience free from outside distractions.

“There’s nothing wrong with reading on a phone or a tablet, but in the modern world, when you read on a tablet, you are bombarded,” said David Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices, to The New York Times. “Incoming email. I might get a notification, a text message from my family. I might get a notification from Clash of Clans. It takes away from our original vision, which is to get lost in an author’s story.”

Amazon aims to cut away outside distractions by making the Kindle experience as close to reading a book as possible. The Oasis is 30 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than any previous iteration of the Kindle; it weighs 4.6 ounces and at its thinnest is 3.4 millimeters thick. It will also feature 60 percent more lighting than previous models and a 300 pixels per inch display for a bright, sharp screen.

Aside from its technical upgrades, the biggest change is the enhanced battery life. Oasis comes with a book-like leather cover that doubles as a charger. Together, Amazon says, the device will last for months. With the case detached, the e-reader will still last for weeks.

“To lean back and read for hours, you need a sanctuary from distraction,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a company release. “We want Kindle to disappear, and Kindle Oasis is the next big step in that mission. It’s the most advanced Kindle we’ve ever built – thin and ultra-lightweight, it gets out of the way so you can lose yourself in the author’s world.”

The basic Wi-Fi enabled version of the Oasis is set to sell for $289.99 and will be released on April 27, while a 3G version will sell for $359.99. The Kindle Voyage, Amazon’s last iteration of the e-reader, retails for $199.99.

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