The Amazon Kindle Oasis 3 and Kobo Forma are the apex of mainstream commercial e-readers that are available in dozens of countries. They each have vast ecosystems populated by major publishers and also self-publishers. The Oasis is rather new and the Forma is over a year old, but does that make a difference? What e-reader is the best?
The Kindle Oasis 3 features a 7 inch E Ink Carta HD capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1680 x 1264 and 300 PPI. The screen is made of glass and the body is made of high grade aluminum. The Kobo Forma has a giant 8 inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1440 × 1920 and 300 PPI. Many e-readers are using Carta HD or Mobius for the screens, but Kobo is using both. The screen is made of plastic, which makes the e-reader so light. The body is also made of a high grade plastic.
The Oasis is employing the Freescale/NXP IMX7 dual core 1 GHZ processor and 512 MB of RAM. Kobo is using an older Freescale/NXP IMX6 Solo Lite 1 GHZ processor and also has 512MB of RAM. Both models have 8GB or 32GB variants. Amazon offers free 4G/LTE internet access if you spend an extra $100 and you can shop for books and sync them to your device virtually anywhere. They also subsidize the cost of the WIFI versions with their Special Offers program, it shows adverts on the sleep and home screen. Kobo does not have any advertising on their e-reader, nor do they provide GSM/3G/4G/LTE internet access.
Reading at night or low-light conditions is something the average person does reguarily. The Oasis has 25 LED and amber lights, while the Forma has 17. I found that the smaller screen, in conjunction with the better lighting system gives the Oasis a huge advantage over the Kobo.
Digital magazines, manga, ebooks, newspapers are just some of the content you can purchase on either of these devices. Amazon has an obvious advantage over Kobo because it has a larger store, more indie titles via the Kindle Direct Publishing platform and various subscription services such as Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading. Kobo does have a subscription service, but it is only available in the Netherlands.
The main selling points behind the Oasis, as a dedicated ebook reader is the fonts. Amazon has developed ember, ember bold, Bookerly and a revised version of Caecilia. The e-reader also has profiles, where you can setup your ideal environment for manga, ebooks or even family members. Kobo only has one font they created themselves and a bunch of stock ones. Side by side, I noticed a large amount of spacing between words on the Kobo, but the Kindle did not have this problem. Kobo users can sideload in their own fonts, to find the ideal scenario where the fonts and words flow naturally. There are also a bunch of super advanced settings.
I believe the Kindle Oasis 3 is the better piece of hardware. The build quality is better and there are more books available. The Freescale IMX7 dual core is the latest generation and it really makes the Oasis perform well. This is evident with their audiobook player and system. You can shop for audiobooks via Audible and listen to them with Bluetooth.
Kobo is no slouch either, but most of their advantages are software driven. They are the only e-reader with Pocket integration, so you can send blog and website articles right to your device. It also has built-in Overdrive, allowing you to browse and read ebooks.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.