The Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s flagship e-reading device. At $399, it’s also one of the most expensive mainstream e-readers on the market. Luckily, the Oasis has a stand-out feature that makes it one of the best e-readers currently available: buttons. While touchscreen E Ink displays are the most common ‘important’ feature of modern e-readers, it’s buttons that really have the most impact on the reading experience.
Here’s the thing: E Ink displays are nice, but they’re also great at picking up grease. Fingers are naturally oily (because we all secrete sebum from our pores, some more than others). It means no matter how fastidious you are about keeping your hands clean, you’ll always leave fingerprints on everything you touch.
Most mainstream e-readers don’t have buttons — like the Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Nia — and operate solely on touch controls. It means you’re directly wiping your fingers on the screen and leaving prints wherever you touch.
While it may not be an eyesore to everyone, having a screen filled with prints, dust and grime is a massive distraction. There’s nothing worse than having to stop reading to wipe your screen because greasy fingerprints are in the way. That goes doubly so if your e-reader is rocking a crisp and bright 300ppi display like the Kindle Oasis. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: buttons.
By having buttons, the Kindle Oasis localises all hand-related grease onto the matte black rim of the device and away from the reading area. It’s a small touch, but one that’s totally worthwhile. You will still end up with various marks and prints around the e-reader, but the screen will remain perfectly smooth and annoyance-free.
The Kindle Oasis has two buttons on the right side of the screen for flipping pages. One button flips the page forward, and the other flips the page backward. You can choose which button does what. They’re both very responsive, require only a light touch and fit neatly to your grip. The best part about these buttons is when you flip the device (or use it left-handed) the screen also flips, meaning text is always upright and the buttons will always be there for you. It also means you’ll never have to resort to greasy touchscreen page skimming if you don’t want to. And you won’t have to stretch at all if you have smaller hands.
The Oasis is a well-designed packaged, and its buttons are just part of its charm. They’re also joined by a slick chassis that moves away from the typical modern e-reader design. Rather than smooth corners and sleek, pocket-sized minamalism, the Oasis rocks an extra bump on its back. This bump makes the e-reader far longer than other devices, but means it fits more neatly into a palm and provides a better grip.
You will still need the touch screen the majority of the time (it controls all menus and navigation), but the buttons help to simplify your reading. Rather than big, exaggerated page flicks or tips, you can simply sit back and press the device’s fantastic little buttons to turn a page. It’s lazy, minimal-effort stuff and it’s fantastic.
While $399 is a steep price when compared to the next Kindle down (the Paperwhite starts at just $179) the modern button-assisted design is far more ergonomic and easier to use. The Oasis is a very well-designed e-reader and comes packed with many handy features (like buttons) that create a refined and more user-friendly reading experience.
Even if cleanliness isn’t at the top of your priorities, the Kindle Oasis’ buttons and overall design upgrades are excellent. Every e-reader in 2020 should have buttons. End of story.