Kindle Fire HDX beats iPad Air in DisplayMate screen shootout


— 6:00 AM on November 6, 2013

Media tablets deserve a lot of credit for pushing the mobile PC industry toward better displays. Slates are all about the screen, and the iPad has long been the standard against which all others are judged. As it turns out, though, the new iPad Air doesn't have the best display of the current generation. DisplayMate pitted the new 9.7" iPad against the 8.9" Kindle Fire HDX and the 10" Nexus 10, and the Kindle came out on top.

What makes the Kindle's screen so good? Pretty much everything: "It has very high brightness, very low Reflectance, excellent high ambient light performance, and excellent factory calibration with the best Absolute Color Accuracy and accurate Image Contrast," DisplayMate says. And the underlying panel tech, which is similar to what's used in the iPhone 5, is reportedly 30% more power-efficient than the IGZO display in the iPad Air. Pretty impressive.

The Air's screen is no slouch, of course. DisplayMate characterizes it as a "mostly incremental but still significant improvement" over the "already excellent" Retina panels on the third- and fourth-gen iPads. The Nexus has the resolution to keep up with its peers, but its colors and contrast are a step behind, among other shortcomings.

DisplayMate does some seriously nerdy testing, and the comparison is worth perusing if you're into that sort of thing. I'm particularly intrigued by the reflectivity results, which suggest that the Kindle's screen is the least mirror-like of the bunch.

If only the Kindle's custom Android 4.3 OS weren't designed as a conduit for Amazon's services. The Kindle Fire HDX would be a lot more attractive with a standard Android install capable of accessing the Google Play store. Perhaps the XDA folks will come up with something.

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