Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 beats the iPad Air in display comparison

by: Bogdan PetrovanNovember 6, 2013

kindle fire hdx 8.9

The specialists at DisplayMate have once again pitted some of the hottest devices on the market in a display shootout. This time it’s the new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, the Apple iPad Air, and the Google Nexus 10 (2012). All of these devices have one thing in common – they have very high resolution displays, which guarantees excellent sharpness. But how are they doing in the other areas that determine the overall quality of a display?

DisplayMate put the three tablets to the test, and these are some of their key findings:

  • In terms of sharpness, all three devices are as good as we expected: at a normal viewing distance, pixels are indiscernible for users with normal vision.
  • The Kindle Fire takes the round when it comes to brightness. At 527 cd/m2, the 8.9-inch Amazon device clearly outshines its competitors, but the iPad Air still manages a “very good” 449 cd/m2. Brightness is important especially when using the tablet in strong ambient light, though a display that is too bright can sap the battery excessively and produce eyestrain.
  • The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and the iPad Air are very well calibrated, in terms of color intensity scale, image contrast, and color gamut. The two tablets register close to the sRGB/Rec.709 Standard, meaning that they display colors that are close to reality. In fact, they are so precise that they could be used for professional purposes, unlike most TVs and monitors on the market. The Nexus 10, however, lags behind here, having a color gamut than is 58 percent smaller than the standard.
  • Screen reflectance is good on the iPad Air, but the Amazon tablet is even better. The Kindle has the lowest reflectance of any tablet tested by DisplayMate. The year-old Nexus 10 is again coming in last, with 54 percent more reflectance than the Kindle Fire HDX.
  • Viewing angles are great on all three tablets – they show no noticeable color shift when viewed at angle, though, as with all LCD displays, brightness decreases sharply.

Overall, DisplayMate concludes that the Kindle Fire HDX has the best tablet display it ever tested, “significantly out-performing the iPad Air in Brightness, Screen Reflectance, and high ambient light contrast, plus a first place finish in the very challenging category of Absolute Color Accuracy”. That’s not to say that the iPad Air doesn’t have a great display. Even the Nexus 10, close to the end of its commercial life, is still holding its own pretty good, but the Samsung-made device lost points due to inferior color accuracy. Once the rumored Asus-made Nexus 10 (2013) hits the market, DisplayMate will redo the tests, and we’ll be sure to revisit them.

  • MasterMuffin

    Such cheap device has the best screen they’ve ever tested? Wow, I’ve been saying bad things about the Kindles but now I’m taking most of it back, everyone’s saying so many good things about them!

    • The only two bad sides or disadvantages to the Kindle Fire devices is the lack of access to the Google Play Store for real apps and the $90 2-Yr Warranty cost on the new HDX 8.9, otherwise I would recommend it to others. But otherwise they are nice devices especially the home screen.

      • MasterMuffin

        The home screen looks nice! If someone has invested a lot on the Amazon ecosystem (has Amazon Prime, dowloads movies and stuff) the lack of Google Play isn’t that bad, especially because you can sideload if you really want some apps (XDA has a big thread full of apks for those without Google Play access and helps a lot, though it’s illegal :/).

    • filaos

      Kindles are only cheap because Amazon wants them to. They cost the same to produce as other comparable devices.

    • Gavin

      I am typing this on a kindle fire HD, and I have had an overall mediocre
      experience with it. The hardware is pretty good when you consider the price, but the software is REALLY CRAPPY! It works fine most of the time, but I have turned it on to a completely formatted device FIVE SEPERATE TIMES!! Plus the lack of google play is a serious problem.

      • Tuan Ankh

        Agree. I got a Fire HD last year, and it was really terrible.
        I actually loved the display and the speakers (who wouldn’t?), but the whole experience with its software was terrible. I even had to sideload Youtube app, lol.
        From now on if I ever buy an Android tablet again, it will be a Nexus for small tab and Samsung for big tab.

      • MasterMuffin

        Lack of Google Play is the reason why I won’t be buying this, but average user may not care about that as long as the tablet works and is cheap :)

      • Fervid Vervet

        Why not root it and install Cyanogenmod?

        • Gavin

          I have considered rooting it, but the risk of screwing up and damaging it is too big so I think I’ll just pass it on to my sister and buy a Nexus 10 2nd gen.

  • RanRu

    With Cyanogenmod (or similar), the Kindle Fire HDX sounds like a great deal. But even the best hardware can’t make me overlook the horrible, crippled software Amazon ships these things with.

  • raj

    iPad Air down the drain

    • Apple_Nexus

      Oh dear! Does your village know that you’re missing?

      On topic: sounds like Amazon are selling some of the best tablet hardware.

      • raj

        Oh Baby… i understand your ignorance by seeing ur name itself: Apple Nexus :D :D :D

  • Xennex1170

    I’d actually consider getting one in addition to the ASUS Transformer Infinity I already have. Primarily for the Amazon media (ebooks) and being able to borrow easily from the public library via Overdrive. :D

  • kingofcornwall

    Rooted my Kindle Fire HD as soon as I got it. Google Play and everything else Android works fine. Compared with a friends Nexus 7 (2012), the Kindle screen and sound is markedly superior. However, I recently bought my daughter a Tesco Hudl and was surprised that it’s a better Tablet than the Kindle Fire HD. No wonder Amazon dropped the price immmediately to match it. Would still buy the Hudl though.