Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 beats the iPad Air in display comparison

November 6, 2013
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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.

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