If you've ever held a Kindle Paperwhite or Voyage e-reader, you've probably never thought "Boy, I wish this thing could be lighter and thinner." The fact is, both readers are already comfortable to hold and use, and can pack in thousands of books in their slim form factors. But clearly the engineers at Amazon felt there was room for improvement and today they announced the Kindle Oasis, the thinnest and brightest Kindle yet.

In terms of the thinner claim, there is a part of the Oasis that's quite a bit slimmer than the Voyage, Amazon's last iteration of the popular Kindle line. It's only part of the device, because what Amazon has done this time out is to make only a portion of the e-reader thinner. The other part stays wide to provide a hand grip of sorts which, it is claimed, will make the device easier to hold. So at its thinnest, the Oasis measures 0.13 in (3.4 mm), while at its thickest, it's actually a wee bit bigger than the Voyager at 0.33 in (8.5 mm) versus that machine's 0.3-in width (7.6 mm).

On the hand grip portion of the Oasis, Amazon has decided to include two buttons that can be used for page turning if you don't like tapping on the screen to get the job done. This is a shift away from the page-press sensors in the Voyage, which allowed page turns to be activated by thumb pressure on the frame of the device, so it might be that Amazon didn't get good feedback on that feature from Kindle fans.

Like all Kindles, the Oasis has a six-inch screen which is packed into more of a squarish shape than the device has ever seen. The height drops from 6.4 in (162 mm) in the Voyage to 5.6 (143 mm), while the width increases from 4.5 in (115 mm) to 4.8 (122 mm). And, like the Paperwhite and Voyage, the Oasis has 300 ppi (pixels per inch) resolution and features LED lights that shine up at the page, although in this latest model, the number of lights increases from six to 10.

One of the more significant changes this time out – and perhaps one of the strangest – is that the Oasis ships with a leather charging cover. While it does normal cover stuff, like putting the device to sleep when it's closed, Amazon also says it will charge the Oasis with enough juice for the device to last for "months." It's an odd move because the company has made much of the ergonomic hand grip on this Kindle, a feature that is clearly lost when the cover is snapped on. Still, it does provide a handy way to keep the reader protected and charging while in a bag.

Also of significance is that the Kindle has lost a bit of weight this time out. The Oasis weighs just 4.6 oz (131 g) without its case in the Wi-Fi configuration. That compares to the Voyage at 6.3 oz (180 g) and the Paperwhite at 7.2 oz (205 g).

The Oasis is available now for pre-order in advance of its April 27 release date, for US$289.99. That's a pretty big jump from the Voyage which retails at $199.99 but for that price you do get the leather case, the comfort grip and more LEDs. Is it worth it? Hopefully we'll get our hands on one soon to let you know.

Product Page: Amazon Kindle Oasis

View gallery - 4 images