Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD 'outperform' iPad Mini display

The iPad Mini's display tech is relatively uninspiring, display expert says.

iPad Mini ' does not follow in Apple's tradition of providing the best display,' according to DisplayMate Technologies.
iPad Mini ' does not follow in Apple's tradition of providing the best display,' according to DisplayMate Technologies. CNET

A display expert echoed today what reviews have already said: the iPad Mini's display is not Apple's best display effort to date.

The Mini's display is "capable" but not great, said Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies in display "shoot-out" published today.

And it's rated lower than higher resolution displays of its main rivals in some key areas: the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD. "The displays on existing mini Tablets from Amazon and Google outperform the iPad mini in most of our lab tests," Soneira wrote.

And the Mini falls short of Apple's own high standards, set by the gorgeous Retina displays on the last two generations of 9.7-inch iPads, iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5, and Retina MacBooks. "So Apple, the inventor of Retina Display marketing, now has a significant competitive shortfall on this," wrote Soneira.

And this echoes CNET's take on iPad Mini's display. "If you own a recent iPhone or the last iPad, you'll feel that this screen is blurry. Text isn't as sharp. The pixels per inch don't even match what's available on a Kindle Fire HD or Nook HD," wrote CNET's Scott Stein.

Some salient critiques of the iPad Mini's display by DisplayMate :

  • Pixel resolution: iPad Mini has a 1,024x768 resolution with a pixel density of 163 pixels per inch (ppi). "That's now considered to be rather on the low side." The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD are both rated at 216 ppi.
  • Screen reflectance: On the iPad Mini, screen reflectance "is a surprisingly high" 9 percent. On the Nexus 7 the reflectance is a much lower 5.9 percent, while on the Kindle Fire HD it is 6.4 percent. "As a result, the iPad mini reflects 53 percent more ambient light than the Nexus 7 and 41 percent more than the Kindle Fire HD."
  • Color gamut: The iPad Mini has an "antiquated" small 62 percent Color Gamut. The Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7 both deliver a much larger 86 percent color gamut. And the iPad Mini compares even more unfavorably with iPad 3 and iPhone 5, which have full 100 percent standard Color gamuts.

But the iPad Mini's display doesn't fall flat across the board. DisplayMate gives it a "good" or "very good" rating in some key categories in the chart below.

For example, in the "Viewing Tests" category, the iPad Mini and Kindle Fire HD are rated "very good," while the Nexus is rated only "good," with notations stating that photos and videos on the Nexus 7 "have washed out color and contrast."

Essentially a reiteration of DisplayMate's previous criticism of the Nexus 7's display, which got a "current overall display grade" of "B-", versus "A-" for the Kindle Fire HD, and "B" for the iPad Mini.

And CNET had good things to say about the Mini's aspect ratio.

"The more booklike 4:3 aspect ratio and its more natural compatibility with PDF files, comics, magazines, and layout-sensitive graphic novels give the iPad Mini an edge over other 7-inch tablets," CNET Reviews said.

The iPad Mini's pixels per inch is low compared with the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD.
The iPad Mini's pixels per inch is low compared with the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. DisplayMate Technologies

Updated on November 7 at 8:35 a.m. PST: adds discussion about Nexus 7 shortcomings and overall grade for the three displays.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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