$199 Kindle Fire HD's display puts Retina iPad on notice

The new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD has an impressive display for a $199 tablet, beating its $199 rival the Nexus 7 and challenging the Retina iPad.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
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.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
7-inch Kindle Fire HD packs a great display, says DisplayMate.
7-inch Kindle Fire HD packs a great display, says DisplayMate. Amazon

Amazon's Kindle Fire HD display is good enough to challenge the pricier Retina iPad's display and "decisively" beat Google's Nexus 7, said display testing firm DisplayMate.

In an article posted Wednesday, DisplayMate compared the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD with the third-generation iPad Retina and got a surprising result.

"It is much better than the iPad 2 and almost as good as the new [Retina] iPad in overall picture quality and color accuracy," wrote Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate.

For example, the Kindle Fire HD has greens and yellows "that are slightly more saturated than the new iPad," said Soneira. And factory display calibration -- necessary to produce a usable image -- were both excellent for the Kindle Fire HD and Retina iPad, while Google's Nexus 7's was "severely botched," according to Soneira.

And Soneira had a lot more to say about the 7-inch Nexus 7.

"The Nexus 7 actually has an LCD display that is similar in performance to the Kindle Fire HD, but a poor (and sloppy) factory calibration has degraded its native panel performance. Depending on the display firmware, this may or may not be correctable with a software update," he said.

He also pointed to a Nexus 7 "bug" that causes an "erratic" variation in screen brightness.

But the Nexus 7 is strong in other areas. For example, color gamut and accuracy. "The new Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus both deliver an impressive 86 percent Standard Color Gamut, a major improvement over almost all previous generation tablets (and smartphones)," he said.

The Retina iPad, however, is out front with "a virtually perfect 99 percent of the Standard Color Gamut," he said.

Soneira concludes by saying that the "second generation of 7-inch Tablets has resulted in impressive improvements in display quality, now rivaling the top performing and most expensive large format tablets, including the new iPad," adding that the 7-inch tablets have only about half the screen area of a 10-inch class tablet like the iPad.

Display shoot-out comparison table
Display shoot-out comparison table DisplayMate Technologies