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Saturday, July 02, 2016

A Sleeker Kindle

"The screen's frontlight is another noticeable point of departure. Like the Paperwhite, the Oasis has a user-adjustable frontlight for reading in the dark. It can be disabled if you're reading in bright indoor or outdoor light since, like all Kindles, the e-ink screen is made to reflect light rather than emit it. For whatever reason, the Oasis lacks the nice ambient light sensor that the Voyage has, so you'll need to adjust the light manually if it's too bright or not bright enough.

But unlike the Paperwhite, the Oasis lights its screen with 10 LEDs. More LEDs make for more uniform lighting, making for a more "book-like" experience. The four LEDs in the Kindle Paperwhite have no trouble getting bright enough, but there's noticeable unevenness, especially across the bottom of the screen. The difference between the Oasis and the Voyage, which has six LEDs, is less noticeable.

The Oasis' frontlight is also cooler and bluer than the Paperwhite's, though you really only notice if you have the two e-readers next to one another.

The Kindle Oasis feels like the next step forward for dedicated e-readers. Given the simplicity of their screen and internal components, the Paperwhite and even the Voyage feel larger and bulkier than they need to be. The Oasis boils the e-reader down to its essential elements, resulting in something that feels and looks noticeably, obviously better and more modern. And even better, it makes the screen bezels smaller and the body thinner without compromising usability—if anything, the asymmetrical bezel and physical buttons make this Kindle nicer to use than any of its predecessors, including the Voyage and its pressure-sensitive "buttons."

All of that said, this is still a Kindle, and the Oasis still has some of the same headaches that the cheaper models have. The e-ink touchscreen isn't as responsive as a modern smartphone or tablet, the hardware can be slow, and sometimes your taps don't register. Slow hardware is a problem if you're a heavy highlighter, an activity which is quick and painless on a phone (you can color code your highlights, even) but takes as least a few seconds on the Kindle. Like all modern Kindles, the Oasis lacks the ability to play audiobooks, and its screen is poor for viewing detailed PDFs or color images. If you buy one, you should do it with full knowledge of its limitations."

Take a look at Ars Technica!

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Friday, July 01, 2016

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​Tesla under investigation after fatal Model S Autopilot crash - Roadshow

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the first reported fatality in a Tesla Model S to occur while Autopilot was engaged. Tesla confirmed Thursday the crash took place when a tractor trailer drove across a highway ahead of the car. Tragically, neither the driver nor the Autopilot system identified the trailer and applied the brakes.

Autopilot is a name for a suite of features available on the Model S sedan and Model X SUV. Together, Autopilot enables the car to automatically speed up and slow down based on traffic and speed limit, as well as steer itself around corners in limited circumstances.

As I found when reviewing the Model X, the feature works remarkably well -- most of the time. However, it is far from perfect, and indeed Tesla tells drivers "you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle" when enabling the optional feature.

Tesla indicates that 130 million miles have been covered by owners using Autopilot in their Models S and X, whereas there is, on average, a fatality every 94 million miles driven on American roads. Look globally and that number drops to 60 million miles. Even so, the magnifying glass will surely be focused very tightly on this crash, particularly after an incident last month, where an owner said that his Model S crashed itself into a trailer.

That NHTSA is investigating the issue doesn't mean that Autopilot or Tesla are at fault, and given the company's famously comprehensive data tracking of its cars I have no doubt that federal officials will have a crystal clear view into the exact circumstances of this crash. We'll have to wait and see where their findings place blame, but as we enter an era of increasing autonomy of our cars, this could prove to be a bellwether incident."

​Tesla under investigation after fatal Model S Autopilot crash - Roadshow