Screen size: 7” e-ink display
Battery Life: Weeks of battery life
File support: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, PMP through conversion; Audible audio format (AAX).
With its waterproof, aluminum body, physical page turn buttons, and glass display, the Kindle Oasis’ form and features feel luxurious when compared against the dependable functionality of a Kindle Paperwhite. As with the last two generations of this device, the 2019 Oasis’ wedge-like design and page-turn buttons make one-handed reading super easy.
The latest iteration of the Oasis brings readers a minor reduction in weight and a small increase in battery capacity over previous iterations of the device. These changes are slight enough that users of the last generation of the device likely won't notice. More significant is the introduction of front lighting with varying color temperatures on this flagship e-reader. Text read on the Oasis can be lit up with the traditional bright, blue spectrum light that Kindle users have become accustomed to, or with warmer, yellow hues that in testing, proved easier on the eyes. As blue-spectrum light can stymy melatonin production, this upgrade is a huge win for anyone that enjoys reading before they nod off for the night.
The illumination level of the Oasis’ 12 LEDs can automatically change thanks to a built-in ambient light sensor, which makes this luxury buy feel all the more decadent. You won’t find better e-reader lighting anywhere. Period. Additionally, if you love listening to podcasts and audiobooks, the Oasis has your back. As with the other Kindles in Amazon’s current lineup, it allows users to listen to audiobooks from Audible via a pair of wireless headphones.
The Oasis’s price may raise some eyebrows, though, as it can cost almost twice as much as a current-generation Kindle Paperwhite. Given that the Paperwhite performs almost as well and comes packing many of the same features as the Oasis, it’s hard to recommend this device to anyone but the staunchest of ebook aficionados.
Other E-Readers We Tested
Screen size: 10.3” e-ink display
Battery Life: Weeks of battery life
File support: 15 file formats supported natively (EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR), Kobo Audiobooks**
The Kobo Elipsa (32GB model tested) with its 10.3" front-lit display, is the best large-screen e-reader around. The fact that it can take handwritten notes is just icing on the cake. Currently, the Elipsa is only available as part of a set that includes a protective leather and rubber case and a battery-powered stylus.
The Elipsa offers access to over three million books via the Kobo Store, as well as the ability to peruse saved web content via Pocket or borrow library books using Kobo's OverDrive service. It's game-on for side-loaded content as well: the Elipsa is compatible with 15 different file formats. If you want to read it, this device can likely handle it.
Despite its large size, the Elipsa weighs just 13 ounces, making it comfortable to hold and read for an extended period of time. However, its protective case doubles this weight. But that's OK: while you can hold it like you might a magazine, this is a device designed to be cradled in the lap or used on a tabletop.
During testing, I found the Elipsa to be very responsive: page turns and display refreshes were pain-free. I was pleased to find that the Elipsa is no slouch in the note-taking department, either. Using the device's active (a nerdy way of saying that the stylus is battery-powered) stylus, I found that its pen latency was a very close second to what users of the reMarkable 2 enjoy. You’ll be glad this is the case as you use the stylus to highlight and markup passages in PDFs or ebooks. The Elipsa can handle hand-written notebooks as well. User notebooks can be synced to Dropbox for reference on other devices.
That said, there is considerable room for improvement. For starters, the Elipsa isn't waterproof: use it in the bathtub to your peril. There are two buttons that allow users to highlight content or erase pen input that are built into the shaft of the Elipsa’s stylus. These buttons can be frustratingly easy to press by mistake.
There are some software issues as well. Hand occlusion (the way that a touchscreen device ignores the palm of your hand while accepting input from your fingers or a stylus) while writing on the Elipsa is spotty at times, making it occasionally impossible for the device to recognize stylus input. I was also less than impressed with the limited number of templates available to write and draw on. Fortunately, all of these irritants can be corrected with software updates—an area Kobo has always excelled in.