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Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 DeThrones the iPad as the Best Large Tablet Screen

There is muchdisplaymate screen tests hdx air nexus 10 2012 gnashing of teeth today in Cupertino.

The screen tech experts at DisplayMate just posted a new analysis of the screen on Apple’s latest tablet and for the first time that I can recall the latest iPad doesn’t have the best screen.

DisplayMate got their hands on the not-yet-released HDX 8.9 and the just-released iPad Air and put both tablets through a bevy of tests in their lab.And just to make things fun, they also tested last year’s Nexus 10 (guess which device came last).

The tests showed that the screen on the HDX is brighter, less reflective, and has higher contrast. We of course new that the HDX had a higher resolution screen, but did you know that the screen on the HDX uses considerably less power ( 3.4 watts vs 4.8 watts)?

All in all, these tests results should not have come as a huge surprise. Apple’s last major improvement to the iPad screen was released in early 2012, while the Kindle Fire HDX is shipping this week – almost 20 months later. Amazon has had a heck of a long time to come up with a better screen, and today’s results reflect the relative release dates.

BTW, the screen on the iPad Air does show incremental improvement over the screen on the iPad 4, but when I compared the results from last year’s test of the iPad 4 to the results posted today I don’t see a huge difference in the results.

I guess we’ll have to wait for the next iPad before Apple will have a chance to wow us again.

displaymate hdx 8-9 air

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Robert November 5, 2013 um 10:35 am

Why did they use the old Nexus 10 instead of the new Nexus 7? The new N7’s screen is 323PPI. I guess they were trying maintain a "large" tablet comparison. It will be interesting to revisit this if the new Nexus 10 shows up in a few weeks or to compare the 7″ HDX, new iPad mini, and the new N7.

Nate Hoffelder November 5, 2013 um 10:38 am

I don’t know, but I agree that it would have made more sense to use the newer tablet. It would have given a better idea of what each company was capable of releasing in terms of screen tech.

fjtorres November 5, 2013 um 10:55 am

They’re comparing devices consumers might cross-shop, not the best each company can field. Do they have a separate 7/8 in report?

Nate Hoffelder November 5, 2013 um 9:00 pm

Except last year they compared the new iPad vs the KFHD and the nexus 7. They could also have waited until the new Nexus 10 is out.

Jim S November 6, 2013 um 9:08 am

You have to read the full DisplayMate article. They acknowledge the Nexus is near end of lifecycle and to expect new version to be improved. They are specifically focusing on the current three most popular larger tablets.

fjtorres November 5, 2013 um 10:58 am

The power usage numbers are surprising… I thought IGZO was supposed to make a *big* difference in power consumption…?
Not looking good for Sharp if that is the best doable with IGZO…

Steve Nagel (@snitstwits) November 5, 2013 um 11:09 am

Apple never gnashes, except in your dreams. The Fire is no competition to the iPad Air. The Kindle’s screen is so much smaller; I suspect the iPad Mini would be comparable, simply because it is also a small screen. Fire has no rear camera at all; its front camera is a puny 1.2 pixels, about the quality of a camera from the last millennium. Let’s count the ways a camera is a massive feature, with HD video, slomo, scanner and OCR capabilities, purchasing, and on and on. No doubt Amazon wants it tablet and its user blinded.

fjtorres November 5, 2013 um 11:38 am

Everybody is entitled to their own opinions.
But not their own facts:

The FireHDX 8.9 has dual cameras. The rear camera is 8MP with Flash.
I’m not buying one but if I were in the market it would be on the short list.

cookie November 5, 2013 um 12:43 pm

The article is about the Kindle having a better screen than the IPAD. Try not to take it personally.

Jim S November 6, 2013 um 9:16 am

The Fire reviewed by DisplayMate has a rear camera. I went to the Amazon site and the specs on the device indicate an 8mp led flash camera with 1080 HD video. The fire isn’t a better tablet overall but let’s our facts right.

Ben November 5, 2013 um 12:07 pm

What is the big deal here? Most users can’t tell the visual difference anyway. Ever ask people if they can tell the difference between plasma vs LCD TV? People that buys Kindle Fire HDX will be there for the cheap price not screen pixel count, nor slightly better color that they cant see.

cookie November 5, 2013 um 12:33 pm

For readers of tech blogs, it is a big deal to see the IPAD dethroned in some respect.

fjtorres November 5, 2013 um 2:15 pm

Well, it is significant in that the wall street speculators have been getting angtsy over the lack of the "next big thing" from Apple and their market share decline in phones and tablets. (As if raking cash in by the truckload weren’t enough.)
So this report that Apple is falling behind in the pretty picture spec race is notable. Expect to see "Apple to a thousand!" pundits jumping off bridges any day now.
Yup… Real soon… 😉

Robert Nagle November 5, 2013 um 1:00 pm

I just have to add: for 32 gigs of storage, the Air costs $599, the HDX costs $444, the Nexus 10 costs $450.

Name November 5, 2013 um 8:44 pm

Since we’ve seen a jump from 1024×768 to 2048×1536 on the iPad in the past, I wonder when we will see a jump to 4096×3072. That would be sort of cool, since it would mean that in theory you could watch the digital master copy of Bambi in full resolution on it (in a window even), supposing your device had enough free space to store the uncompressed video data (which might actually be the case then). Technically, it should be possible, since the resulting resolution would still be below the 540+ ppi on some recently shown 5.x inch displays.

Nate Hoffelder November 5, 2013 um 9:05 pm

I don’t see this happening. Quadrupling the pixel count would require an equally steep jump in processing power and a similar drop in battery life. And for what? I can’t see the difference now, and I’m not the only one.

I think it’s much more likely that Apple’s next tablet will have a fractional increase in resolution, not a doubling.

Name November 5, 2013 um 9:34 pm

I don’t think processing power would be the problem. GPU makers already boast about the 4K capabilities of their most recent IP cores, so it will soon be in SoCs. I agree that we probably won’t see it in 2014 already, but still, it would be sort of cool. I imagine a presentation were we would look back to 2004 when the original analog film material of Bambi was restored and a high-resolution 4K digital copy created in the process, intended for screening in modern digital cinemas. Look at where technology has arrived ten years later. It could be displayed on a less-than-10-inch screen of handheld computer that costs less than $1000.

Nate Hoffelder November 5, 2013 um 10:01 pm


fjtorres November 5, 2013 um 11:17 pm

I dunno, but I think using the graphics power that would be wasted on 4k for 3D would make more sense. At tablet viewing distances there already is tech to do 3d without glasses.

Name November 6, 2013 um 11:45 am

The graphics power has already arrived and doesn’t increase power consumption just for the fact that improved manufacturing processes shrink structures. Current ARM SoCs are at 28nm while 22nm structures are possible already. Whether we’ll see the displays in 2014 already is dubious, for iPads at least. What’s known is that Samsung put them on the roadmap for smartphones:

3D is probably also on its way. Graphics power will be enough to give us both.

Robert November 6, 2013 um 9:08 am

I haven’t spent a lot of time with the new HDX Fires but my casual impression is that the screens are stellar and the build quality feels excellent. It’s unfortunate they are saddled with Amazon’s rather clumsy OS. If these were standard Android tablets I think they would be excellent choices.

I don’t really follow the scene…are the Fires readily rootable/custom rom-able? Cyanogen doesn’t appear to list them as compatible.

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kindleon December 1, 2013 um 4:10 am

Kindle Fire HDX – Major Improvement

I had two main issues with the original Kindle Fire–and both had to do with typing on the display. The first is that the display was simply not responsive enough. I found that I frequently had to tap, tap again, and tap a little harder just to get letters to type on the display. The second was that the predictive autofill was insane.

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