Update, April 15: Alas, some just-disclosed specs suggest that the new Oasis in fact offers less contrast than even the $120 Paperwhite.

Amazon’s $290 Kindle Oasis e-reader offers better text-background contrast than previous models have, according to Todd Bishop, who has done a hands-on for GeekWire. The Oasis to the left actually shows less contrast than the Voyage if you go by the photo. But that’s not the same as seeing it in person.

The contrast issue is of interest to me and many other older people whose eyes can’t distinguish to the extent they should between text and background. E Ink isn’t the highest-contrast display technology. One way to make up for the contrast challenge is to offer all-text boldfacing. Amazon has refused to do so. Improved contrast would not  substitute for all-text bold or, better, adjustable font weights, but it would certainly help.

Please note that bold itself doesn’t increase actual contrast. But it does boost perceived contrast, which is what really counts.

While the contrast issue is especially bothersome for many older people, it also can affect younger ones. Significantly, advertising for the Oasis mentions that Kindles are the official e-readers of the national PTA. We’re really talking about ability-to-learn issues here.

Of course, there’s another issue, too: affordability. The Oasis will sell for more than twice the cost of the Amazon Paperwhite. If contrast is indeed better on the Oasis, how long until this trickles down to the less expensive models?

Correction: An earlier version of this post, done on deadline, misidentified the two models. Thanks to VondaZ for the catch! Meanwhile, as noted in my comment below, I am querying Amazon to see if there is any difference in text-background contrast specs between the Oasis and earlier models such as the Voyage.


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