The Proof is in the Pixels--Displays: iPad mini, Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7

Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
Posted on November 7, 2012 There have been 0 comments

Pixels under Microscope: Nexus 7 vs  Kindle Fire HD vs iPad Mini from www.repairlabs.com

The elite scientific RepairLabs team had so much fun testing tablet displays under the microscope that they decided to test some non-Apple (Android) devices for pixel density as well: the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7. Our last excursion under the microscope was such a hit we thought we’d check out a couple more devices.

Though in our last post we didn’t find the iPad mini’s display to be terribly offensive in comparison with the Retina Display of the 4th generation iPad, it has been a major disappointment to some. And when the Android devices of the same size are available at much better prices, with far superior display specs, the average consumer faces a problem.   John Brownlee sums up the problem in his review of the iPad mini for Cult of Mac,

“It’s maddening. Why did Apple release the iPad mini with a screen this terrible, especially when it’s competing with devices like the Kindle Paperwhite, the Kindle Fire 7 and the Galaxy 7 that aren’t just much cheaper but have displays that are so much superior for reading text?”

In his article, Brownlee also calls out “optical fatigue” and text display as the major problems plaguing the iPad mini’s display. Granted, the display is less impressive, with iPad mini’s pixels roughly 1/3 larger than those of the iPad 4th generation.  But is it enough to be a deal-breaker when you’re deciding which 7-inch tablet you should buy? We put the three little tablets under the microscope to find out for ourselves whether there was really a difference.

 Nexus 7 vs. iPad mini 

 

Pixels under Microscope: Nexus 7 vs iPad Mini from www.repairlabs.com

The pixels of the Nexus 7 are noticeably smaller

Let’s talk pixels per inch (ppi). The iPad mini has 163 pixels per inch, while the Nexus 7 clocks at 216. There’s a marked difference between the two, though the screen sizes are very similar, in that magic 7-inch range. And it bears out under the microscope. The two contrast starkly.

 

Kindle Fire HD vs iPad Mini

 

Pixels under Microscope: Kindle Fire HD vs iPad Mini from www.repairlabs.com

A similar result to the Nexus 7...but could it be better?

 

Another 7 inch tablet facing down the iPad mini. The Kindle Fire HD far outperforms the iPad mini’s display in terms of pixel density.  This time the Kindle Fire HD has 254ppi, and of course the mini’s resolution remains the same at 163ppi, and the story’s the same as with the Nexus 7 under the microscope.

 

 

Kindle Fire HD v Nexus 7

 

Pixels under Microscope: Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7 from www.repairlabs.com

These 2 look mighty similar, but look close, the Fire's pixels are a teeny bit smaller.

Testing the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7 side by side under the microscope shows that they’re nearly identical. The Kindle Fire HD is indeed technically larger at 254 ppi, and the Nexus 7 has 216 ppi, or pixels per inch.  Under the microscope, though, they look pretty identical.

 

 

BONUS: Kindle Fire HD v iPad 4th Generation with Retina Display Pixel Comparison

 

Pixels under Microscope: Kindle fire HD v iPad 4 with Retina Display from www.repairlabs.com

Surprisingly similar: Kindle Fire HD at 254ppi and the Retina Display at 264ppi

 

Here’s the real kicker. Our blue ribbon winner for pixel size and density is the Kindle Fire HD. If you were paying attention to ppi from above, with 254 pixels per inch, it’s barely distinguishable from the drool-worthy iPad Retina Display of the 3rd and 4th gen iPads. That’s right, kids. Kindle Fire HD has a WAY better display and is $130 cheaper than then iPad mini.  However, the Nexus 7 isn’t far behind at 216ppi.

 

 

Conclusion

Granted, there are loads of other factors to consider in addition to simple pixel density to determine just how good a screen is. You must take into account viewing angle, color saturation, screen reflectance, color gamut, contrast and the depth at which the images seem to land on the glass of the displays. Some of these are intangibles are not easy to quantify or measure. But out of sheer pixel density and viewed up close, we can see a clear winner: for 7-inch tablets Kindle Fire HD is the best in display and price.

 

Pixels under Microscope: Nexus 7 vs iPad Mini vs Kindle Fire HD from www.repairlabs.com

And for those of you who like to see a side by side comparison.

 

Additional Sources

http://www.cultofmac.com/199749/the-ipad-minis-display-doesnt-stack-up-well-against-the-competition-but-theres-still-hope/

http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/28/nexus-7-review/

http://www.techradar.com/us/reviews/pc-mac/tablets/amazon-kindle-fire-hd-7-1095316/review/2#articleContent

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2409367,00.asp

 

by , Tech Expert, Freelance Writer.

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Curtis Taylor

Curtis is one of the lead public technical advisors for all personal electronics. With a burning passion for not only bringing you the most informative articles, but also for his websites RepairLabs and Fix-iPhones.com. His proudest achievement though is Op:HERO -- a program dedicated to making each repair help overcome.

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This post was posted in Opinion, Tablets, Tech, What We Do, iPhone, iPad Accessories, iPad Tips, iPad, Uncategorized and was tagged with 7-inch tablet, screen resolution, screen, Nexus 7, pixel density, Kindle Fire HD, display, pixel, microscope, Retina Display, pixels, iPad mini

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