darkAlthough many users are happy with their new Kindle Oasis readers, it seems a good many of them aren’t. A ten-page-and-growing thread has sprung up on MobileRead’s Kindle forum complaining about uneven lighting issues that make it annoying to try to read. Some say that they see “shadow cones” on their screen, while others note the color temperature of the lighting seems to change from one side of the screen to the other.

Some users have posted pictures that purport to show the uneven lighting, though as one participant pointed out you can’t actually trust those because CCD cameras don’t pick up light in the same way as the human eye. His camera picked up shadow cones on his Oasis  (see photo at left) that aren’t visible at all to his naked eye. Forum reader Kolja reports:

I received my Oasis today also and have been trying to convince myself that the screen is fine as the device is great in all other ways. I’m one of those who sees the color shifts and the one I got has it. Overall the screen is much warmer than my Voyage and the color gets darker, almost yellow on the left. I can see slight brightness where the LEDs are on the thicker side and while minor I find it more distracting in the margin than it was on the bottom. I’m going to try reading with it for awhile to see if it bothers me enough to return it. Mine came from Best Buy and will be easy to return if necessary.

Other readers report fit and finish issues (as did some of the negative Amazon.com reviewers I mentioned the other day)—a crevice along the border of the screen where dust gets trapped, and jagged edges in places. However, others (including David Rothman and Len Edgerly) don’t report experiencing any of these issues at all. It’s possible that this may simply be a first-production run problem that affects some units but not others—one forum member notes that early Paperwhite and Voyage models had similar problem—and it might also be that some people’s eyes are more sensitive than others’ to color variations.

In any event, it might be a good idea to hold off on ordering it from Amazon until they have a chance to finish working all the kinks out of the manufacturing process. Otherwise, you might want to pick it up somewhere like Best Buy where you can hopefully unbox and examine it before you buy, or at least take it back somewhere close if it turns out to have problems.


  1. I believe the Voyage had similar problems, but because the lights are at the bottom, the color gradient only gradually altered as one reads down the page. But the gradient was horribly noticeable in landscape. With the Oasis lights on the side, the color gradient will be very noticeable as it it changes along the line instead of between lines.
    It seems to me that Amazon is hanging in with the original PW1 lighting tech which was horribly flawed. In comparison, the Kobo lighting tech seems to be fundamentally better. Amazon appear unwilling to start from scratch, but prefer to trying to improve a tech that isn’t as good as the competition. I wonder why.

  2. @Chris: Good job. We need to tell people of the risks. That said, I do take comfort in the fact that the 60 reviews on Amazon so far average 4.5 out of five stars. My own Oasis continues to perform like a champ. I suspect Amazon will get its QC act together on this, and meanwhile, I’m confident that the company will be terrific when it comes to exchanges. Of course, if you live in a place where exchanges would be a hassle, then you may want to be more cautious than otherwise. As for Best Buy, it was sold out of Oasises locally, and apparently online, too, the last time I checked. David

  3. As they say, these are “first-world problems.”

    The nearly $200 price of an Oasis is more than enough reason to take a pass on it. Look around a bit, and you could pick up another Kindle 3/Keyboard like the one I own for only a tenth as much. Yes, the screen is not backlite, but that means than any lighting issues are easily resolved by adjusting its positioning. There’s no need to fret over Amazon’s quality control.


    Indeed, I take pleasure in depriving Jeff Bezo, a guy who “makes $6 billion in one afternoon,” of a little income.


    Why? Because when I lived in Seattle, one of my neighbors was an early employee of Amazon. She worked long hours, giving up her holidays, to make the company a success. She assumed that she would get rewarded with stocks when the company went public. Instead Jeff Bezos—and the responsibility is his alone—laid her and several hundred others off just before that ‘going public.’ That allow him to better stuff his personal portfolio with Amazon stocks, and that is why he can make $6 billion in a single afternoon.

    When I met her, she was holding a garage sale before moving. She’d been made so bitter by what Bezos had done to her and her fellow workers that she could no longer stand to live in Seattle. She was moving to California.

    So, if you want to know why I loathe Bezos and his company, that’s why. I know just how icy cold and calculating his heart is. It’s also why I regular blast the company for paying royalties to authors, who’re barely getting by, half what Apple pays at most retail prices (35% v. 70%).

    Amazon executives who want to demostrate that they’re not like their boss need to raise bloody hell until that vile policy is changed.


    For the record, I come from a long line a ‘bloody hell’ raisers. Numerous members of my Civil War-era Alabama family rode in the First Alabama Calvary, U.S. The last two letters matter. It was a Union calvary made up of Southerners opposed to what they called the “rich man’s war, poor man’s fight” for slavery. Among other feats, they provided the calvary cover for Sherman’s march across Georgia.

    To find them, just search for a last name of Hallmark here:



    If you work for Amazon and are decent enough to loathe how the company treats independent authors, raise a little hell of your own. Remind those over you that the fact that Amazon’s getting away with paying authors half the market rate will go badly for the company if there’s ever a lawsuit over Amazon’s market dominance. Only a market-dominating bully can get away with that.

    –Michael W. Perry, co-author of Lily’s Ride: Rescuing her Father from the Ku Klux Klan (The book is a young adult novel about a brave teen girl in 1870s NC, but it mentions my family history in passing.)

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