Kindle Oasis two-week impressions

Two weeks ago I bought the 2019 version of Kindle Oasis, Amazon’s flagship kindle. I decided to replace my 2016 Kindle Paperwhite when the battery life of the old device started deteriorating badly. I went all out and bought the Oasis.

The Kindle Oasis is the most expensive electronic book reader in the Kindle lineup. I was initially hesitant to get the flagship model, but in the end decided to give it a try. Upon receiving it, I was pleasantly surprised how slim the package was. This makes sense when it comes to shipping. It is always beneficial to delivery items to consumers in flat boxes to save space.

The first thing that I realised when I held the Kindle Oasis in my hands was how hefty the device feels. It’s really solid, none of the lightweight, plasticky feel that you get in lower end models. The back of the Kindle Oasis is made of aluminium, with a glass screen at the front. All these premium material used in the making of the Kindle Oasis most probably added to the heft and weight that I felt the moment I held it in my hands.

The Kindle Oasis has a thicker side and a thinner side. The thinner side is really slim. It makes the device pretty sexy. However, after using the device for about two weeks now (far surpassing my reading goals so far this year by a whopping 7 books), I can’t say that I am a fan of the unequal thickness of the device. I can understand why they made it such, most likely to make the experience of holding the Kindle a little more ergonomic, but I don’t find that to be the case. To me, it just limits the may ways I could hold my Kindle in a variety of different situations. A uniform back would be my preferred design choice.

What I do like about the Kindle Oasis (and most probably the single biggest factor in choosing the Oasis over the ordinary Paperwhite) is the addition of the physical page turning buttons. Although all Kindle models have touch screen ability, the page turning buttons makes the reading experience so much better for me. There are two page turning buttons, one of turn the page forward and another to turn the page backward. I reverse those buttons as I prefer to turn the page forward using the lower button rather than the higher button. That way, I can hold the kindle at a lower position as compared to having to stretch my fingers just to be able to turn the page using the upper button. All in all, the page buttons are by the far the best feature in the Kindle Oasis.

The Kindle Oasis also features the ability to change the temperature of the backlight to something warmer. I have no strong preference on whether to read in cool or warm light, but having the feature is a welcome addition. In the end, my reading lights are a couple of shades warmer than usual, and over time I tend to find reading on the Kindle Oasis with warmer lights a little more pleasant to the eyes, especially when reading in dark places or at night. The Kindle Oasis also allows readers to set the time to gradually change the colour temperature throughout the day. The Kindle Oasis also features auto-adjust brightness that detects ambient light and changes the intensity of the backlight accordingly. Again, I don’t find this feature particularly useful for me as I am totally fine reading whether in bright or dark environments with a fixed level of backlight brightness. What I do appreciate is that the backlight can be much brighter than the lower Kindle models and that there are more LEDs serving as backlights for a more uniform illumination of the entire screen area.

Apart from the physical buttons feature which I love from the Kindle Oasis, it also features a slightly bigger screen. It’s not much bigger by a wide margin (otherwise holding the device to read would be cumbersome) but enough to display more text horizontally which to me, makes for a slightly better reading experience.

So far, I am really enjoying the device a lot. The solid feel of the device and the physical page turning buttons is a welcome addition which makes my reading experience far more enjoyable. Although one downside is the cost. I just feel that the price could be lower, given that, everything else equal, the Kindle Oasis and Paperwhite have the same pixel density and overall, both devices will no doubt give you a good reading experience.

Airpods first impressions!

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2 days ago I ordered the Airpods online on the Apple Store. The same day, I collected at the Apple Store Orchard. This tiny little thing has been in high demand for almost a year since its original release. I had the opportunity to collect the Airpods on the same day I ordered it due to immediate stock availability.

I was really curious as to the whole experience of using these truly wireless earphones. Were they easy to pair with your phone? How long is the battery life? How small and light are the Airpods including the charging case?

I immediately went upstairs to the second floor of the store so that I could unbox it and set it up right then and there. My first impression upon seeing this thing in person was how small the case was. Almost the same size as a box of Tictacs! Pairing was dead easy (and to some extent, quite magical, I have never experienced quite like it before). All I had to do was to ensure that my phone has wireless and Bluetooth switched on. Then I had to place the Airpods near my phone and flick the case open. Almost immediately, a prompt appeared on my phone asking whether I want to connect the Airpods to my phone. All I had to do was to tap ‘connect’ and you are done. It was that simple. Next I just had to pull out those tiny earpieces, put on my ears, fire up Spotify and voila, I was already using it like a pro. Pairing a Bluetooth device has never been easier.

Next is the sound quality. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself an audiophile, but I do appreciate a good pair of either earphones or headphones. My criteria for what considers a good pair is that it must produce a good amount of bass. Tight bass, one that does not bleed to the mids and muddle it up. Mids has to be warm and highs should never be too tinny. Soundstage must sound expansive, but not too airy and good sound separation, with the ability to discern the myriad of musical instruments and effects without sounding too ‘jumbled’ up.

So how does the Airpods stack up? It’s not bad actually. It was definitely better than I expected. The bass is more prominent than I expected. I think, the sound quality is good enough for the majority of people out there. However, the Airpods has poor noise isolation, as it doesn’t provide a good, airtight feet in your ear to keep external sounds out. While the audio quality is good, the lack of noise isolation actually marred the sound quality quite significantly. And when you consider the price you are paying for a pair of Airpods, at S$248, you would expect to get better quality audio and at least sound isolating feature built it. Sound separation and overall soundstage is above average.  The sound coming out from the Airpods is generally very clear, but you can definitely hear the bass bleeding to the mids, and not as tight as I would like them to be.

The Airpods, fortunately, fits pretty well in my ear. I had no problems with Airpods coming out from my ear during my morning commute, and it stayed put throughout the entire journey from home to the office. But because I take the train to work every morning, it can get a little noisy and without noise isolation, the Airpods, while producing very good sound quality is hampered by outside noise.

So is spending S$248 worth it? I’m not sure. When it comes to choosing headphones or earphones, the number one deciding factor is sound quality, followed by overall comfort, convenience and aesthetics, At that price point, the sound quality is somewhat lacking. What you are paying for instead is ultra-portability; it has a very small footprint, maximum convenience; you only need to pair once. After you just have to wear the thing to get started. For those looking for a good sounding pair of earphones, you might want to look elsewhere. But for those who are looking for portability and ease of use, the Airpods might be a good choice.

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