We don’t know the most effective method to do a Kindle Fire HD Screen vs Nook HD Screen vs iPad Mini Screen vs Nexus 7 Screen comparison. So, in the absence of one method to rule them all, the solution is to add in good comparisons done elsewhere (DisplayMate), my thoughts and experiences, and things like pixel densities and screen resolutions.
Disclaimer: I only own and use Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Nook HD, Nook HD+, Nexus 7. Have never had an iPad Mini. Past devices includes all Kindles and Nooks and iPad 2.
DisplayMate’s Screen comparison
Starting off with this because they go into the technicals. Don’t think technicals are the right way to compare – However, they are indisputable facts. So they are the most unbiased.
iPad Mini vs Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7 - Display Shootout from DisplayMate
First, some general things
- Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 are both 216 pixels per inch while iPad Mini is a low 163 pixels per inch. Note: Nook HD has 243 pixels per inch making it the winner here.
- The ‘Retina Display’ effect (screen appears perfectly sharp to the eyes) is up to 15.9 inches away for Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD but only up to 21″ inches away for iPad Mini. That means you would have to hold the iPad Mini at least 21 inches out for the screen to appear perfectly sharp. Note: Nook HD would be the winner here too since it has 243 pixels per inch and would appear ‘screen perfect’ at even closer than 15.9 inches.
- Small Text Readability for Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 was categorized as ‘Very Good’ by DisplayMate while it was ‘somewhat fuzzy’ for iPad Mini. For Nook HD it would probably be either Excellent or Very, Very Good. This is critical if you are going to be reading a lot on your device (it affects anything and everything you read – books, websites, magazines, newspapers).
Second, some overall assessments
- Viewing Photos and Videos was Very Good on Kindle Fire HD and iPad Mini and only good with Nexus 7. This would match my personal experience of Nexus 7 not being optimal for either photos or videos.
- Overall Display Assessment – Very Good for Kindle Fire HD (A- grade), Nexus 7 is a Very Good Display with Poor Calibration and Bugs (B- grade), iPad Mini is a Good Display with High Reflectance, smaller color gamut and very good calibration (B Grade). My grades would be – A for Kindle Fire HD, A+ for Nook HD, B- for Nexus 7.
- Reflectivity – Very Good for Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. Poor for iPad Mini. Have no idea how to figure this out for Nook HD.
- Brightness and Contrast – A- for Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7. B for iPad Mini. I’d put Nook HD at A or A-. Screen is very bright and has good contrast. Note: I have no way to measure Nook HD brightness and contrast so these are to be taken as observations/guesses and not facts.
- Color and Intensities – Please see the DisplayMate article. I couldn’t really grep/grasp most of this.
- Running Time on Battery – 6.6 hours for Kindle Fire HD, 9.1 hours for Nexus 7, 6.1 hours for iPad Mini. Don’t know how to measure this for Nook HD. It’s probably not 9.1 hours. Perhaps between 6 and 8 hours.
DisplayMate’s testing seems to clearly rank Kindle Fire HD as having the absolute best screen out of the three, with Nexus 7 second but not close, and iPad Mini a distant third. That’s my reading of their article. Of course, you might feel the difference isn’t so stark – although Kindle Fire HD does come out on top.
In actual usage I’d say that there’s no comparison between Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7. If screen is important to you then Nook HD or Kindle Fire HD are the only good 7″ Tablet Choices. I did have an iPad 2 and Kindle Fire HD is a better screen than that. However, iPad Mini is not the same as iPad 2 since it has smaller pixels.
DisplayMate seems to suggest that Kindle Fire HD > Nexus 7 > iPad Mini.
My personal experiences would suggest that Nook HD > Kindle Fire HD >>> Nexus 7.
Screen Resolution and Pixel Density
Every company looks for competitive differentiators. Apple found one in Pixel Density + Screen Resolution and it really went after it. Except in the iPad Mini it coudn’t deliver.
That’s the danger of taking something that is important (but not super important) and trying to make it the ONE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER.
It’s a testament to Apple users’ loyalty that after years of talking up Pixel Density and the necessity of having a 10″ screen on a Tablet, they have, without batting any eyelashes, discovered that 7″ is a much more comfortable size for Tablets and realized that screen pixel density isn’t very important at all for them.
It’s heartening to know that all of them are finally recognizing that form is not more important than function.
Unfortunately, screen resolution and pixel density affect both form and function. Here’s what we have for screen resolution and pixel density amongst the 7″ Tablets -
- Nook HD has 1440 by 900 screen resolution with 243 pixels per inch. So it leads comfortably. It has a 7″ screen.
- Kindle Fire HD has 1280 by 800 screen resolution with 216 pixels per inch. It’s very good and a clear second. It has a 7″ screen.
- Nexus 7 has 1280 by 800 screen resolution with 216 pixels per inch. However, it’s clearly inferior to Kindle Fire HD as Google/Asus messed up something with the calibration or screen anti-glare layer. It has a 7″ screen.
- iPad Mini has a 1024 by 768 pixels screen with 163 pixels per inch . It has a 7.85″ screen.
In actual use the differences I found were -
- Nook HD is better than Kindle Fire HD. However, it isn’t a game changing difference – one where the screen is so much better it makes other qualities unimportant.
- Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD are both much better than Nexus 7. To the point that you should NOT get a Nexus 7 if watching movies and viewing photos are Top 5 use cases for you.
Screen Resolution and Pixel Density determine how sharp text is and how good movies and photos look. You obviously want the best you can get and that would be Nook HD or Kindle Fire HD.
If you don’t read books and website articles, or if you don’t care about text sharpness and photo sharpness, then this post isn’t really that relevant. Most 7″ Tablets have perfectly serviceable screens.
General thoughts on Screens – Kindle Fire HD Screen vs Nook HD Screen vs iPad Mini Screen vs Nexus 7 Screen
- If you want the absolute best 7″ Tablet Screen, then Nook HD is the only choice. It has an impressive 1440 by 900 screen resolution and it has 243 pixels per inch. Markedly better than everything else in the 7″ Tablet Market.
- Difference between Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD is not very much. However, there is no doubt Nook HD is better.
- Nook HD > Kindle Fire HD >> Nexus 7. If screen is important to you (especially for viewing photos etc.) then I’d go as far as recommending not getting the Nexus 7. Even for movies Nexus 7 is not as good as the other two.
- Haven’t used the iPad Mini screen so can’t comment on that other than to say – If the device has a physically larger screen with lower screen resolution and lower pixel density, then it’s going to be a horror to use in two scenarios – 1) You are used to Retina Displays or Near-Retina Displays; 2) You stumble across someone using a Nook HD or Kindle Fire HD and realize you paid $130 more for a markedly inferior screen.
- Display Mate’s screen comparison confirms that iPad Mini screen is a bit of a disaster. So if screen quality is your #1 criteria then the Mini is definitely not the Tablet for you.
iPad Mini does have several advantages (let’s not reject it just because it has the least pretty screen) – a huge app store, larger screen area, lighter than most other 7″ Tablets, build quality, better resale value, etc.
Just because the iPad Mini has a screen that is unattractive, especially compared to the higher resolution, higher pixel density screens of its competitors, does not make it a bad Tablet. Its other qualities more than make up for the poor screen. However, if screen quality is a Top 3 criteria for you, then get a Nook HD or get a Kindle Fire HD or wait for iPad Mini with Retina Display in 2013.
Initial Reactions and Current Reactions – Kindle Fire HD Screen, Nook HD Screen, Nexus 7 Screen
Kindle Fire HD 7″
Initial – Wow! The only Tablets I had owned before this were iPad 2 and Kindle Fire 1 and Nook Color and Nook Tablet and Nexus 7. So this was my first near-Retina Display screen Tablet and it was very impressive.
Current – Wow! It’s just a very good screen, period. It holds its own (for the most part) against Nook HD and HD+ and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.
Initial – Wow. It is better than Kindle Fire HD 7″. However, the difference is not a deal breaker. I wouldn’t recommend picking a Nook HD over Kindle Fire HD just for the screen (please consider all the pros and cons).
Current – Wow! This is probably my favorite Screen amongst all my Tablets. Even more than Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and Nook HD+.
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″
Initial – Seems similar to Kindle Fire HD 7″. Is this really 256 pixels per inch? On further review – Yes, it’s better. However, if it’s possible for a 256 pixels per inch screen to fail to look clearly better than a 216 pixels per inch screen, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ screen manages it. Perhaps it’s the bezels being so big they need to go on a diet. Perhaps it’s some sort of screen miscalibration. There just was no Wow! like there was with Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD.
Current – It’s OK. Apparently, the screen isn’t as good as it should be because they messed up some stuff (this comes from very skilled photographers and such). Hopefully they do some calbration fixes and make it live up t0 its 256 ppi and 1920 by 1200 screen resolution goodness.
Initial – Very Good. This is very good. Note: Nook HD+ was seen after Kindle Fire HD so there wasn’t that initial Wow! factor. As opposed to Nook HD which really does Wow! even if you are used to high pixel density screens, the HD+ is just ‘Very Good’. Don’t know how to quantify it. It’s like a ‘very good near retina display’ screen. It’s 256 pixels per inch and 1920 by 1280 screen resolution. It’s very light and compact compared to Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ (However, HD 8.9″ has its own strengths).
Current – Very Good. Not sure why it’s never Wow’ed me. It’s a very solid ‘Very Good’ though.
Initial – What? They did something wrong with the screen. It definitely is nowhere near as good for photos as Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD. It’s also worse than Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and Nook HD+.
Current – Weakest screen out of all the 7″ Tablets. Note: Haven’t seen iPad Mini so can’t comment on that. Nexus 7 screen is very good for games but not that good rest of the time. The tinting or whatever they tried on the screen backfired.
Note: Not discussing things like laminated screens and no air gaps etc. because there’s no way to quantify that. The only place it seems to make a difference is on Nexus 7 where it detracts from screen quality. Everywhere else it’s not noticeable.
Kindle Fire HD Screen vs Nook HD Screen vs iPad Mini Screen vs Nexus 7 Screen – Conclusion
There are three tiers of Screen Quality in 7″ Tablets -
- Top Tier – Nook HD, Kindle Fire HD 7″.
- Second Tier – Nexus 7. However, I would NOT recommend it if screen quality is a Top 3 criteria for you.
- Third Tier – iPad Mini (Based on Display Mate Results, I have no experience with this).
If you are the sort of person who takes pleasure in watching beautiful photos or seeing a high-definition movie. If you love sharp, crisp text. If the quality and clarity and sharpness of screens matters to you – then Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD 7″ are your #1 and #2 choices. I would recommend either strongly – you’re going to be happy regardless of which of these two you choose.
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