Summer has arrived and with it the desire for the sea (or mountains), for evening walks, for excursions, for adventure but above all for relaxation. And what better occasion than the summer holidays to devote yourself to one of the most relaxing activities, namely reading?
Although I am a lover of paper books, their smell, the pleasant sensation you get when you leaf through their pages or when you look at them in a nice bookcase, I can only hide the idea of ebook reader has always fascinated me. They are undoubtedly more comfortable, especially when you go on vacation, cheaper (if you buy many books, in the long run it can be even convenient) and more functional thanks to the numerous functions they now have: text search, bookmark, dictionary.
However, ebook readers are not all the same and in this review / comparison we will deal with the top of the range of the two leading manufacturers in this sector, Amazon Kindle Oasis e Kobo Form, for an experience that has nothing to envy to traditional reading.
Before moving on to the actual analysis of the two readers, however, some general information. As we said, both products represent the top of the range of the two manufacturers and both products offer an exceptional user experience both indoors and above all outdoors, where in the sunlight, ebook readers show all their superiority compared to tablets and mobile phones. . Both devices have a truly excellent ecosystem that makes the user experience even more satisfying.
Amazon Kindle Oasis
Il Kindle Oasis contains the best of the technology developed by Amazon for its Kindle series ebook readers. With this product, Amazon aims to convince even the latest fundamentalists in the press paper to give ereaders a chance.
The main features of the product, now in its second version, include resistance to splashes, the ability to connect to Audible, a larger screen and above all a new, more refined and particular design that uses aluminum instead of plastic for the external shells. Compared to the remaining products in the Kindle range, the most interesting innovations, however, concern the display, which now enjoys improved brightness, color temperature adjustment and a generally clearer and more precise screen.
Being a top of the range product, of course, the price is high: 249 euros for the 8 GB model to date and 279 euros, however, for the 32 GB version (except Amazon promotions that bring the price even to 50 euros less).
Amazon has also made available a version with 3G connectivity that allows the device to become completely independent from the mobile phone. But let's go in order.
Design and ergonomics
The tenth generation of Kindle Oasis offers a design with rounded lines made even more elegant by the use of aluminum and high quality plastics. The device, thanks to its rather small dimensions (width 141 mm, height 159 mm, thickness 8,4 mm in the part of the handle, 3,4 mm at the opposite edge) and the excellent construction, appears compact and solid.
The right back of the device, which is thicker than the main body of the product, is shaped to provide natural support and a firmer grip for one-handed use while providing space for the battery pack. Despite the use of aluminum, the grip is quite stable (although not as stable as the Kobo Forma counterpart) thanks to an excellent balance between weight and shape. The weight of the version without 3G connectivity is 188 g but it is incredibly lower than that of the Paperwhite, the cheapest model of Kindle and built entirely of plastic.
On the right side of the screen there are the two buttons for page advancement. The feedback of the keys is excellent, much higher than that of Kobo Forma thanks to a more precise and "dry" click, although we did not like the decision to reverse them, that is the upper button to advance and the lower one to go back, but in each case is a matter of taste.
In the upper part there is space for the on / standby button and here too the tactile feedback is decidedly superior to that of the counterpart, which is "rubbery" in comparison. Finally, in the lower part, perfectly aligned with the power / standby button, the micro USB port for charging and the status LED.
The screen from 7 ”eInk HD paper it is flush with the body and has a resolution of 300 ppi, while the brightness is entrusted to 25 LEDs that also allow you to adjust the shade of the screen, from white to amber and program the transition from one to the other at a certain time to avoid blue light fatigue. The Kindle Oasis screen also features an adaptive front light that automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen based on the ambient lighting. Even considering the small size compared to that of the Kobo Forma counterpart, Kindle Oasis' screen is slightly brighter at any selected level, but we found the brightness hue customization technology on Kobo Forma to be slightly more manageable, which, moreover, has already been using it for a while while for Amazon it is a novelty.
One of the most interesting new features of this Kindle Oasis concerns the ability to play audiobooks from the library Audible, the Amazon service that allows you to download and listen to all audiobooks at a cost of 9,99 euros per month present in its huge catalog, which at the last count (March 2019) amounted to about 14.000.
Oasis has a bluetooth controller that allows you to connect the device to a speaker or wireless headphones, but it does not have a 3,5 mm jack input. This absence, if on the one hand it appears justifiable by the need to contain the thickness and above all to make the device "waterproof", on the other hand it appears a really important lack especially given the exclusive Audible functionality available to it (once downloaded headphones, no more audio in short).
The software of the new Oasis is also optimized to make the most of the new functionality: if you have both the ebook version of the book and the Audible version, in fact, it is possible to switch from one to the other without interruption, resuming reading or listening right where you left off. This feature is particularly useful for example for those who travel by subway or by car to reach the workplace, being able to switch to the audiobook while walking in the street and to the ebook when sitting in the subway.
The new Kindle Oasis is the first of the Kindles to introduce a IPX8 certification thanks to a particular film that covers the internal circuitry. This is not an exclusive feature as, as we will see, it is also present on the other product being tested today, but it is certainly very welcome especially for those who use the ebook reader in the pool or at the sea (even if the certification concerns fresh water only). The Kindle Oasis is capable of withstanding immersion in fresh water for up to 60 minutes at a maximum depth of 2 meters.
The autonomy declared by Amazon is equal to about 6 weeksand, reading half an hour a day with wi-fi deactivated and brightness set to level 13. The data seems to be confirmed in daily use, even if a verification appears very difficult, considering that most of the times you will have activated normal brightness and that in normal conditions (fairly lighted room) the device automatically sets it to 20/22 compared to a maximum of 24.
Software and usability
The software, at least for our taste, is the weakest aspect of Amazon's product. First of all, like all Kindle products, the only ebooks accepted are those that can be downloaded from the Amazon site and the Kindle store. The natively accepted formats are Kindle 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC (not converted), HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG and PMP (converted). However, it is possible through special programs such as caliber convert your ebooks to ePub or PDF in the Kindle compatible format quite simply. What we didn't like is theexcessive presence of store advertising even in the home, which makes the use of its contents less immediate, limited to the first upper part. Furthermore, compared to the Kobo OS, some features appeared to us a little less immediate such as the aforementioned inversion of the page feed keys.
The "screensavers" that are activated automatically when the device goes into stand-by are very nice.
The responsiveness of the Kindle Oasis 2 is really excellent, whether it is files in native Kindle format or converted files, comics and above all PDF, certainly the most difficult format for this type of devices. Credit certainly goes to the new NXP i.MX7D processor, a dual core clocked at 1 GHz and 512 MB of RAM. The greater reactivity is evident above all in the enlargement of the PDF files and in the text search, comparable to that of the tablets of a couple of years ago. Compared to Kobo Forma, which instead uses an older processor and a smaller amount of RAM, the responsiveness of Kindle Oasis is imperceptible in everyday use but nevertheless remains a surplus if you often use, as we said, PDFs and comics.
Rakuten Kobo's answer to the Kindle Oasis is called Kobo Form and, as its main antagonist, it represents the best of the technology offered by the Japanese-Canadian company.
The main feature of this ebook reader lies in the size of its display, superior to those of all other devices in circulation. And it really is 8-inch eInk HD Paper screen which had a major impact, as we shall see, in the final evaluation of the product.
From an engineering and design point of view, Kobo has chosen a different approach to its flagship product than Amazon. The Kobo Forma, in fact, has a honeycomb metal alloy structure that gives rigidity to the product, but the external shell is made entirely of plastic and rubber. The rubber coating covers the entire device and in this way the grip, despite the generous dimensions (160 x 178 x 8.5 mm) is always firm, much more than it is on the Amazon Kindle Oasis which, on the contrary, is sometimes rather "slippery".
The choice of using plastic for the external body also allows the weight of the device to be kept below 200 g (194 g to be precise), an element that guarantees exceptional comfort when using it, for example lying down. However, a balanced design with an almost square shape (17 x 16 cm) that distributes the load well contributes to the general convenience of the device.
The side of the device draws a slight upward crease (unlike Oasis which has chosen a more traditional setting with a bulge at the bottom) and this allows for a comfortable grip in one-handed use. When it is held in this way, in fact, the thumb simply reaches the two page feed buttons, located on the front of the device, without strange contortions.
As for the power button, this is placed on the raised side and is, in the opinion of the writer, the only somewhat questionable design choice. First of all, the button is located right next to the two reading progress keys, so it can happen that you accidentally press it with the palm of your hand. Secondly, it's the feel of the on / standby button that doesn't convince us at all. The click is in fact "rubbery", so to speak like that of the old TV remote controls but much less precise. Add a slight delay in the response of the device upon entering standby and you will find yourself pressing it more times or longer than necessary making it difficult to tell if the pressure was sufficient. In this, the Amazon Kindle Oasis button is much more precise, much more similar to that of the most modern smartphones and placed in a much more comfortable position.
On the other hand, the judgment for the two navigation buttons on the pages is different. The two keys use dedicated switches, not obtained from a single rocker, and for this they require a little more force (but less than that of the power button) but respond with a precise click. In this case we definitely preferred them over Kindle Oasis's small beveled buttons.
At the rear, the rubber coating has a "bubble" texture for a decidedly exceptional grip even when your hands are wet or sweaty. The device never slips off and is pleasant to hold in your hands. However, the rubber coating turns out to be a real magnet for stains and even with clean hands you will happen to leave some decidedly unsightly fingerprints.
The screen is definitely the strong point of Kobo Forma. As we said, it is theereader with the largest display around. The technology used is the 8 ”eInk Carta HD with a definition of 300 ppi and a resolution of 1440 × 1920, the same used by Amazon on its Oasis. Kobo Forma's screen also has integrated Mobius technology, which uses a layer of flexible plastic within the display. This ensures that the ultra-thin and lightweight device offers a high degree of resistance to the constant pressures of daily use.
Kobo Forma also uses the ComfortLight PRO technology for adjusting the color temperature of the display. The regulation system is based on 9 white light LEDs side by side with 8 RGB LEDs able to make the screen color more yellowish and natural and therefore also more pleasant to read, especially in the evening when it is possible to activate the nightshift, now very common mode. on smartphones, which eliminates blue light to promote sleep. Unlike Oasis, moreover, Forma allows you to choose a custom color temperature, colder or warmer depending on the needs and tastes of the reader. The brightness is excellent, although, with a larger screen, it is slightly lower than that of Kindle Oasis.
Under the body
Under the body, Kobo Forma is equipped with a Freescale IMX6 Solo Lite 1 GHz CPU and 512 MB of RAM, while the internal memory reaches 8 GB of internal space of which 6.9 GB are available, the equivalent of almost 6000 ebooks. The equipped CPU is neither more nor less than that present on other Kobo devices, an honest single core that does its job excellently. However, having the two top-of-the-range devices on hand, the performance difference compared to the Amazon Kindle Oasis and its 7 GHz Dual Core NXP i.MX1D SoC is noticeable only when using particularly heavy files such as PDFs and comics, formats for which it is often necessary to perform numerous pinch to zoom. On the other hand, however, the larger screen of Kobo Forma makes this action less necessary and in this sense it balances the score with the American counterpart.
Another aspect in which Kobo is slightly slower than Amazon is in the search for words or phrases within the text; nothing transcendental, mind you, but the difference must still be noted.
The battery life is very close to that declared by the manufacturer, about 3 weeks, while it takes about 90 minutes to complete charging.
The price of the Kobo Forma is higher than that of Oasis: € 279 for the 8 GB version and € 329,99 for the 32 GB version.
Conclusions and judgment
Difficult to judge the two top of the range of Amazon and Rakuten Kobo, as both represent the best of the two manufacturers and the best of ereader technology available right now. However, both have their own strengths and weaknesses that may make you prefer one over the other according to your needs. Wanting to summarize in a short lineup, we could say that:
Kobo Forma is preferred because:
- It is very light and always comfortable to hold in any circumstance
- It has a better lighting system
- It boasts the largest screen in its category and this is definitely its greatest asset
- Take advantage of a software with few frills, very easy to use and read almost everything
- The CPU is the same as all other Kobos and a step behind the Kindle
- The rubber shell soon gets dirty
- The power button is a bit rubbery
Amazon Kindle Oasis is preferred because:
- Fitted with a new and fast processor
- Construction materials are better than the Forma
- It boasts the best autonomy in the sector
- Features Audible audiobook support
- The screen is smaller than its direct competitor
- It is more slippery than the Kobo Forma
- Amazon's software is a bit too invasive as far as the store is concerned and only supports the proprietary Kindle format
Are you wondering which one do we prefer? To be honest, although the Amazon Kindle Oasis is a decidedly more beautiful and captivating device, what made us prefer Forma are the size of the display and the extreme lightness of the device. Reading on a display as large yet surprisingly light as the Kobo Forma is truly a pleasure and taking it under an umbrella this summer is now running out is a must.