Kindle Oasis, Amazon's Latest E-Reader, Available for Preorder

The $290 Oasis is the lightest and thinnest Kindle built so far, weighing in at 4.6 ounces and measuring just 0.13 inches thick.  

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Amazon's eighth-generation e-reader, the $289.99 Kindle Oasis, is available for preorder as the company adds a fourth Kindle model to its line of e-readers for all budgets.

The Oasis is the thinnest and lightest Kindle e-reader built so far, with a weight of 4.6 ounces and a thickness of just 0.13 inches, all in the name of making the device more comfortable to use and hold, according to Amazon. By comparison, the seventh-generation Kindle Voyage, unveiled in September 2014, weighs 6.3 ounces and is 0.30 inches thick, while the earlier Kindle Paperwhite weighs 7.2 ounces and is 0.36 inches thick.

The new Oasis, which will begin shipping April 27, also includes a leather cover that doubles as a special charger to keep the e-reader charged and ready for use for months at a time, according to Amazon. The cover creates a dual-battery system, with its integrated battery charging the built-in battery in the Oasis as soon as the e-reader is connected to the cover. The Oasis also includes a new Kindle hibernation mode that minimizes power consumption when the device is not being used. The cover and Kindle can be recharged at the same time, keeping them both ready for extended use.

The device includes an all-new lightweight polymer frame that is plated with metal using a structural electroplating process, keeping the device light while maintaining its strength so it can be used on the go without fear of breakage. The Oasis also includes a new design that "shifts the center of gravity to your palm, to rest in your hand like the spine of a book so that the device feels balanced for one-handed reading," according to Amazon. Users can turn the page on the Oasis by using its touch display or by pressing physical buttons, while a built-in accelerometer detects whether users are reading with their left or right hands and automatically rotates the page and page-turn buttons to match.

The Kindle Oasis uses Amazon's high-resolution 300ppi Paperwhite display to provide an easy-to-read screen in a wide range of light conditions. The display includes a redesigned integrated front light that features 60 percent more LEDs compared to earlier Paperwhite displays, giving it the brightest Kindle display built so far.

The latest Paperwhite display is Amazon's first that uses a 200-micron thick display backplane, which is as thin as a single sheet of aluminum foil, along with a chemically reinforced cover glass for strength.

"To lean back and read for hours, you need a sanctuary from distraction," Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, said in a statement. "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 Oasis charging cover is available in black, merlot or walnut colors.

Amazon's other e-readers include the standard Kindle, which is priced at $79.99 and includes a touch-screen display; the $119.99 Kindle Paperwhite, which is the most popular Kindle; and the $199.99 Kindle Voyage, which has a high-resolution display.

All Kindles arrive pre-registered for users so they can begin to read as soon as they unpack their devices, along with automatic archiving and syncing of their reading libraries.

The latest Kindle comes out about seven months after reports surfaced in August 2015 that Amazon was in the midst of reconfiguring its device road map following the market failure of its Amazon Fire phone back in 2014. After taking a $170 million charge on the ill-fated Fire phone, Amazon then reportedly began scaling back or ending the development of other hardware efforts and cut jobs in its secretive development center, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

The company, building off the success of its original Kindle and Kindle Fire tablet devices, saw the Fire phone as a way to enter into the smartphone space, compete with the likes of Apple (with its iPhone lineup) and Samsung (Galaxy devices), and give customers yet another way to order products from the e-tailer online. But that noble experiment never worked out in the case of the Fire phone. There were a range of challenges, from the ongoing popularity of the iPhones to high prices to an array of other devices on the market, particularly at AT&T, which was the exclusive retailer for the Fire phone.