By Robert Schoon ( | First Posted: Nov 05, 2013 09:42 PM EST

The Kindle Fire HDX was unveiled just a little bit before Apple's big October event, where the new iPad Air was revealed to eager Apple fans. And while the iPad Air has an impressive screen resolution and other features, Amazon's newest addition to the Kindle Fire HD might be a sleeper contender for the highest rated slot, especially after its 8.9-inch display recently out-tested Apple's best.

In an exceedingly extensive multipoint test between the screens on the iPad Air, Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, and last year's Google Nexus 10, the Kindle Fire 8.9 came out on top, according to DisplayMate.  All three feature high-resolution displays, with around 300 pixels per inch, so discovering which display was truly the best required testing for other factors as well, including color accuracy, image contrast, performance in high ambient light, and other tests.

Display Mate found all very impressive, with the iPad Air and Kindle Fire HDX operating "on another performance level" but the display-testing site found the 8.9 HDX "most impressive of all," as it "leapfrogged into the best performing Tablet display that we have ever tested," said the conclusion, "significantly outperforming the iPad Air" in many aspects, including screen brightness, reflectance, contrast in bright ambient light, and "a first-place finish in the very challenging category of absolute color accuracy." Take that, Apple (and the Amazon customers who complained of a little purple border-haze). 

The iPad Air did pretty well during the tests, and both outscored the Google Nexus 10 on several different tests (we'll see what happens if and when the Mountain View giant unveils a 2013 update to their 10-inch tablet). To begin, both tablets did well at a normal viewing distance, where pixels become invisible on such high resolution screens. They also scored very well on factory calibration, color accuracy, viewing angles, image contrast accuracy, and contrast ratio.

But where the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 really exceeded in was maintaining accurate and highly visible images in imperfect, every-day lighting conditions. This is not an accident, as one of the new features Amazon touted on the high-end HDX lineup was an auto-adjusting, dynamic contrast setting that reads and adjusts to bright environments.


Kindle Fire HDX 8.9's Advantage

So somewhat unsurprisingly, while the two were neck and neck in most tests, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 outscored the iPad Air in ambient light reflection and contrast-in-ambient light tests.


While both the iPad Air and the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 had very little average reflection, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 quickly became the gold standard in relative brightness of reflected ambient light and the mirror reflection light test. These are the direct, and most annoying, reflections that can light up the screen's surface, making it very difficult to see anything in the affected area. But not for the HDX 8.9, with its light sensor and auto-contrast adjustment, which Amazon itself demonstrated to the press while directly shining a flashlight on the screen.

The above account is only a portion of the very detailed findings posted by DisplayMate, which is a site you should check out if you want to see all the results of their many tests, as well as to find out how last year's Nexus 10 fared in the same tests. 

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