While I was at BEA, I managed to spend a minute or so with Len Edgerly’s Kindle Oasis. The biggest thing that surprised me about it was simply how small it was. All the photos manage to make it look larger, even recognizing that it has the same screen size as a Paperwhite but not as much body around it. But holding it in your hands is honestly surprising—it’s not much bigger than a Gideon New Testament. I was stricken by such gadget lust that I now kind of hope Amazon doesn’t send me a review unit—it would be torture having to send it back!
But not everyone is so impressed by the Kindle. The latest problem to crop up comes from a thread on the MobileRead forum in which a number of Oasis users report that the battery built into the detachable leather cover apparently isn’t charging their Oasis’s internal battery. Multiple users report that even after they connected the cover, their Oasis simply went ahead and shut down.
On The Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder advances the theory that the complicated five-pin magnetic connector on the battery cover may not be making proper contact with the connector on the Oasis, especially if they’re reading it with the cover on and shifting it about in their hands. This actually sounds reasonable to me, given my experience with a similar magnetic connector—the charging cable that attaches to my Pebble watch.
Since the Pebble is water-resistant, it can’t use a normal micro-USB plug, so it has to use a plate that’s held in place by magnets—and the irritating thing is, it can be obnoxiously hard to get it to stay in place for charging. That’s one of the Pebble’s greatest design flaws, in fact. It’s not hard to believe that the Oasis cover might have a similar one.
So, how to deal with it? Without having access to an Oasis of my own to fiddle with, I can’t be certain—but perhaps the simplest way would be to get in the habit of using the reader without the cover most of the time, then making sure it’s properly seated to the cover so it can recharge when you’re not using it, especially overnight. That way you wouldn’t be relying on the device to charge properly while it’s in your hands, while you’re moving around and might move the cover in such a way that it would break contact with the reader.
Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see whether this problem actually does prove to be pervasive enough to be accounted a design flaw, or whether it just happens to a few unlucky device owners.
That cover-with-a-battery has seemed to me a solution in search of a problem. It’s quite easy to use any inexpensive USB accessory battery and micro-USB cable to charge almost any USB device. Why bother with a battery scheme that only charges an Oasis?
I’d love to see ereaders in even smaller sizes, particularly a ruggedized model for kids.