The buttons on the Kindle Oasis make the e-reader feel more like a book

In today's digital age, it sometimes feels like hardware has moved to the background of software that ejects devices. Button of the Month is a monthly view of what some of those buttons and switches are on old and new devices, and it aims to appreciate how we interact with our devices physically and tactilely. [19659004] How do you make a tablet feel like a book?

Amazon has been reducing this question for years with its Kindle line, which seeks to offer a reading experience that is as good, if not better, than outdated paper and ink.

The best thing about Amazon's modern Kindle hardware has been the Oasis: not only because of the high-resolution screen or the thin design, but because it only has physical page-turning buttons to advance in an electronic book.


the buttons on the kindle oasis make the e reader feel more like a book

Those buttons are a crucial part of what makes a good electronic reader work because nothing will really replicate a book when it comes to physical form. The best electronic readers (the Amazon Kindles, in particular) are the most successful when they try not to copy the book experience directly, but adapt it to the strengths of the tablet's form. While the Kindle screen will never be the same as reading a paper book, it offers benefits that paper can not, such as a backlight and adjustable text.

That brings us to the buttons. Turning a page is probably the most important interaction people have with books. This is how we move forward in whatever we are reading or going back to check a map at the beginning or an index at the end. Nothing will really reproduce that: the movement of the paper, the whispering of the pages and the friction as you pass the page are impossible to achieve digitally.

Some have tried. The Apple Books app, for example, emulates paper on a skeuomorphic level by animating a digital page turn when you play, but it's a hollow experience.

Amazon does not try to directly copy that. During the first generations of Kindles, the company used integrated buttons on the edges of its readers, but they were difficult to hold and (like any button in movement) a potential point of failure. So the company threw in the towel for the most part and switched to touch interfaces, starting with the Kindle Touch in 2011, which were boring but functional.


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Except for the Oasis, Amazon's first-line Kindle. The Oasis has physical page turn buttons, a pair of oblong capsules in the thick bezel of the device, which are placed perfectly under your thumb. Like a real book, buttons turn a page into a physical action. You have to move your hand deliberately to move forward or backward. It is the ritual of delivering a new sheet, adapted to the design strengths and the unique form factor of the Kindle.

Amazon distilled the page turn buttons to the point of absolute simplicity: the top button of Oasis (regardless of how you hold it) makes you advance a page, while the button below makes you go back. The buttons are not capacitive (like the flat touch panels of the Kindle Voyage), nor are they particularly remarkable from the physical point of view. There are no tricks to swipe, not even press and hold or double click. But unlike the original Kindle, there is no inconvenience in the location here; They rest under your hand, ready and waiting for a simple flex of your thumb to turn the page.

Buttons add a physical break between pages. Honestly, it's a shame that Amazon does not include them in their cheaper Kindle models because, at least for me, the buttons make the difference between reading a book as if it were a long blog post and reading a book.

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