Kindle Fire HDX laps iPad Air's Retina display

Kindle Fire HDX laps iPad Air's Retina display

Summary: iPad loyalists and fans of its Retina display might be surprised by the results of a recent display shootout by an industry expert. Is Apple resting on its iPad laurels?

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DisplayMate has posted its Flagship Tablet Display Technology Shoot-Out between the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, iPad Air, and Google Nexus 10 and the Kindle came out on top. 

The Shoot-Out's author, Dr. Raymond Soneira, is the developer of DisplayMate which is recognized as a worldwide leader in video diagnostics. His wonderfully in-depth article tests, compares, and analyzes the displays on the current flagship tablets by Amazon, Apple and Google in copious detail.

Although the Amazon and Google slabs are higher resolution than the iPad Air (2560 x 1600 vs. 2048 x 1536 pixels), Amazon edges out even Google with a higher PPI rating (339 vs. 300 PPI) -- and both best the iPad's relatively weak 264 PPI.

Display Shootout: iPad Air vs. Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 vs. Google Nexus 10 - Jason O'Grady

DisplayMates concludes:

All three of these Flagship Tablets have the most impressive mobile displays currently available. The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and Apple iPad Air are even more impressive on another performance level because they deliver top notch picture quality, absolute color accuracy, and accurate image contrast that is not only much better than any other Tablet, they are also much better than most HDTVs, laptops, and monitors. In fact, with some minor calibration tweaks they both would qualify as studio reference monitors.

Most impressive of all is the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, which has leapfrogged into the best performing Tablet display that we have 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.

More highlights from the the DisplayMate Shoot-Out can be found in the Absolute Color Accuracy, Comparison Table and Conclusions.

While its 264 PPI "Retina" display was pioneering when the iPad 4 came out (in September 2012) Apple's decision to maintain the same pixel density in the iPad 5 (nee "Air") has cost it in terms of quality and allowed the competition to catch up. 

Although it has yet to ship, it'll be interesting to see how the 2048 x 1536, 324 PPI panel in the upcoming iPad mini Retina compares in quality to the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and Google Nexus 7 which both rock 1920 x 1200, 323 PPI displays. See the CNET has a comparison table.

Topics: Apple, Amazon, Google, Hardware, iPad

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109 comments
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  • Not really

    Once you've achieved a resolution which makes individual pixels undiscernable to the human eye, anything extra is just a pointless drain on the battery.
    Englishmole
    • good point... any good photographer

      will tell you this and why a photographer who knows his stuff will scoff at pixel ads on cameras. It comes into play for certain applications, but the majority of the public would never know the difference. I shot pictures for my son's soccer team for the Seniors. I was really worried about them blowing up the pictures - especially the night shots which my lens struggles with - they turned out great.
      ScanBack
      • Hmm

        Depends on the camera... I don't know many photographers that scoffed at more MP on a DSLR body as the noise reduction technology has been advancing with it. I know quite a few accomplished photographers that do know their stuff and I assure you, I understand it as well.

        I would take a 24 MP full frame DSLR any day over a 12 MP full frame DSLR of the same brand.

        Poster sized prints at 300 PPI is the ultimate goal.
        slickjim
    • Drain

      Yes, at that point, it is all 'bragging rights'.
      rphunter1242
    • Not Not Really

      The defining point of the article is not the PPI density but the other measurements of display quality and that is what really counts. Maybe you missed that part. In addition, they do state the distance at which you can discern the pixels and the KDX came out on top here.
      johnnylumber
      • Re: the other measurements of display quality

        Now, did you notice that those other measurements were identical?

        The only difference is the pixel densities, and the fact that Apple are using the new IZGO technology. The iPad display is also the only one with 4:3 ratio.
        danbi
        • I hope you're stating that as a negative

          the 4:3 ratio is an old television. My Ipad 2 is very frustrating when I watch movies because the picture is much smaller than it should be. I'm getting ready to dump it for a Samsung.
          larsonjs
    • good point

      When computers were slow, Moore's law stated that CPU chips will double in density and speed every 2 years. Once desktops and laptops became fast enough for every day tasks, Moore's law became irrelevant. Otellini wisely focused on reducing power consumption instead. Today's Haswell chips are a result of that change. ARM chips used in smartphones are a result of that change. Retina displays are at the same evolutionary moment as CPUs were when Otellini took over. The next challenge is to make them consume less power.
      DisruptiveThinker
      • Re: The next challenge is to make them consume less power.

        Precisely what Apple has done with the IZGO display in the iPad Air.
        danbi
    • Does it really matter

      Yes my Google Nexus 6000 has one billion pixels per inch. Come on does it really matter. If you can't see more than 264 pixels per inch, why waste the time in making more.
      marcandsebe
      • Nice

        Somebody has been in the RDF too long.

        You theoretically cannot see more than 300 PPI but, that's only on a certain wavelengths as scientists say some light allows you to see much more.
        slickjim
    • Yes

      300 PPI is considered the max and both Amazon, Google hit it but, Apple didn't until the Retina Mini released.
      slickjim
  • Not really II ...

    Apple attempt to justify the 64-bit argument by saying it's bigger and better than everyone else's chip.

    It is.

    However, no iPad applications can make use of it (and to quote your own words, it's "just a pointless drain on the battery").


    Well, their own argument is now being used against them in the area of displays. Apple have rested on their laurels for too long and their competitors have overtaken them with bigger and better screens (even if you might struggle to see the difference ;-P).
    5hagg1
    • Any iPad app that does any kind of video

      or image processing can take advantage if 64-bit computing right now. A display that exceeds human limits of resolution will never produce a sharper image to the human eye. It's a marketing gimmick. Congratulations, you fell for it.
      baggins_z
      • No.

        if the apps are not coded for 64 bit specifically they cannot take advantage of it. Also 64 bit really only shines in tasks where large amounts of data are processed per cycle as all data paths are QuadWord. But in regular everyday tasks it doesn't help much beyond the ability to address more memory of which no Apple product has more than then 32bit limit (4GB) anyway.
        Stop being a fanboy and realize that the retina screen was nothing more than a gimic and now they have been beaten on that aswell. Because there is no formula for "retina", it all depends on how close you hold your phone to your face in different positions and if you are telling me you can see the pixels on even a 720p phone screen then you are just completely full of shit.
        Jimster480
        • You forget

          that baggins et al live a life of fear. Fear that the ipad/iphone/itoilet will be bested and publicly shown to be what they are. Competitive products with competing alternatives.

          It's comical to read the desperate comments in defense of apple at the best of times but this article is providing so much good reading.

          Don't forget, 'Retina' was not just an improved screen, it wasn't just a marketing term, it was a way of life for these people. Of course now it's been bettered, that's just a marketing trick and a worthless comparison. In fact, it's bad. Very bad. It kills your battery. In minutes. So the ipad is still better - see I do listen guys.

          Spare a thought for the desperate and deluded out there. Baggins, we see your pain but unfortunately do not share it.
          Little Old Man
          • Talk about living in fear

            Here you are, posting on articles that have NOTHING to do with you or your interests, for no discernible reason other than to bolster your own ego by seeing your misinformed words in print.
            .DeusExMachina.
          • Fear

            It seems Android users aren't very confident in their choice if they have to spend a lot of time bad-mouthing the competition. Don't they have anything else to do?
            rphunter1242
          • Perfectly happy

            I have last year's phone, last year's tablet and they perform excellently for what I need. When they don't, I will replace them with TOOLS that do. What I don't do is go round telling everyone how my tool of choice is the best ever, cannot be beaten, is from the best manufacturer ever (that also can never be beaten) like so many itards on here. Just to be clear, owning something apple doesn't make you an itard, preaching the gospel according to apple makes you an itard.

            Fact remains, if you don't like what I say, ignore it. Don't pretend to be better than me while franticly commenting that I shouldn't be commenting. You'd think you'd have something better to do than respond to trolls like me?
            Little Old Man
          • And YOU are spending your time so wisely!

            I love posters who criticize other posters for posting with the "don't they have anything better to do." rphunter: don't you have anything else to do?
            larsonjs