Amazon Cherry Picks Specs To Compare Kindle Fire HD to iPad Mini, But They Are Right About HD

Amazon Cherry Picks Specs To Compare Kindle Fire HD to iPad Mini, But They Are Right About HD

Despite apparently record sales of the 7-inch Kindle Fire the day after Apple debuted the iPad mini, Amazon is taking to the low-road in order to direct shoppers on its website away from Cupertino’s new mini-sized tablet.

How? They’ve posted a comparison chart to the front page of Amazon.com showing how the Kindle Fire HD and iPad mini stack up, spec-for-spec.

In a chart entitled “More for less,” Amazon.com pulls out the old marketer’s trick of cherry picking a few choice specs to compare against the competition. We’ve seen this tactic before.

Most of these aren’t worth getting too upset about. Let’s face it, the pixel density of the iPad mini is a bit of a bummer to those of us used to Retina Displays. Likewise, Apple has had mono speakers on its devices for a disappointly long time. $329 is a lot more than a Kindle Fire HD, which starts at $199, and MIMO Wi-Fi is missing on the iPad mini, although most people will never be able to tell.

What some people are getting upset about, though, is that Amazon is claiming that Amazon is additionally telling flat-out lies about the iPad mini: namely, that it doesn’t have an HD display, and can’t view HD movies or TV.

I hate to correct anyone’s outrage over this, but Amazon’s right: the iPad mini doesn’t have an HD display, and you can’t watch HD movies at their best quality on the iPad mini. Here’s why.

Critics of Amazon’s ad note that the iPad mini’s display is 1024 x 768. Since the baseline definition of HD is 720p (or, in other words, a display having a minimum of 720 pixels in height), the iPad mini has a 720p display, and qualifies as HD. Right?

Wrong. In actuality, the minimum resolution that technically qualifies as HD is 1280 x 720 in an aspect ratio of 16:9. The iPad mini has 48 more pixels in height necessary to qualify as HD, but 256 pixels less in width.

It’s not a trivial difference. The iPad mini is actually over 135,000 pixels short of the mark to qualify as HD. That’s 15% less pixels than it needs. Consequently, while you can load HD videos on your iPad mini, they’ll be automatically shown at a less-than-HD resolution of about 85% of full HD.

Of course, the iPad mini has a lot of advantages that Amazon isn’t taking into account here. For example, the Apple App Store, which has around 300,000 iPad-specific apps already on it, compared to Amazon’s much smaller selection. There’s also measures like build-quality to go by. If you buy an iPad mini, you have access to great Apple-only features like AirPlay, iMessage and iCloud… things the Kindle Fire HD doesn’t have anything equivalent to.

Finally, a screen’s quality has a lot less to do with pixels than people think: contrast, color gamut, brightness and so on are much more important than mere pixel count. I’m willing to bet that while the Kindle Fire HD may have more pixels, the iPad mini will have the superior display when the two are measured up. Anyone want to bet otherwise?

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  • minimalist1969

    Having 1080p, 720p 15MP, etc on a box does not mean anything by itself. All you have to do is look at a cheap HDTV, or bargain point and shoot camera, or an overly compressed “1080p” video stream to see this fact.

    Josh Topolsky and Nilay Patel from the Verge have both stated after handling the iPad Mini that its screen is noticeably better looking than either the Nexus 7 or Fire HD’s screens even though they technically have higher resolutions. I trust their judgments more than spec lists.

  • Zod Buster

    And Now the ad nauseam comments by the addicted sheep

  • technochick

    I wonder how long it will be before the DOJ starts an inquiry into possible antitrust action by Amazon. After all one could see this kind of thing as them using their market strength as an online retailer to push their in house products (and take that as a totally separate market). The next few weeks could be interesting

  • BrainGameMayhem

    And Now the ad nauseam comments by the addicted sheep

    I don’t care which side of the Apple fence you are on, ads comparing cherry-picked spec lists are terrible. Kindle Fire HD has “Ultra-Fast MIMO Wi-Fi” but Amazon conveniently leave out iPad Mini’s LTE connectivity? Dumb.

  • Sollared

    I honestly think the Fire line is just useless piece of crap devices.
    But is your head really so far up the asses of Apple execs that you completely forgot the keynote unveiling the iPad Mini? The one that occurred just last week? The one where Apple “pulls out the old marketer’s trick of cherry picking a few choice specs to compare against the competition” for 10 straight minutes?
    DId you forget that already? Probably. That’s just what brainwashed people do. It’s no different than our current political front.

  • MWinNYC

    Tim Cooke and Phil Schiller both took “the low road” last week when they started “talking trash” about their competitors. People usually do this when they lack confidence and pride in their own product.

  • Matthew Gonzales Landry

    I honestly think the Fire line is just useless piece of crap devices.
    But is your head really so far up the asses of Apple execs that you completely forgot the keynote unveiling the iPad Mini? The one that occurred just last week? The one where Apple “pulls out the old marketer’s trick of cherry picking a few choice specs to compare against the competition” for 10 straight minutes?
    DId you forget that already? Probably. That’s just what brainwashed people do. It’s no different than our current political front.

    Actually…they only compared the display. Cherry-picking one requires one spec, but it’s less demeaning when only one thing is being compared. In Amazon’s case, people may think these 5 or so features are the only features of the tablets and that Amozon wins on all fronts.

    In addition, the iPad will be able to play HD movies and TV shows. Just because the display isn’t HD doesn’t mean it can’t play HD content. That’s such a misleading misbelief.

  • BrainGameMayhem

    Tim Cooke and Phil Schiller both took “the low road” last week when they started “talking trash” about their competitors. People usually do this when they lack confidence and pride in their own product.

    Right, because Steve JObs never talked trash and he lacked confidence and pride in their products…

  • Shaun Green

    The main thing that puts me off the Amazon device is the fact that you can’t download any films or tv shows to take with you. AFAIK you can only stream them over wifi using an Amazon monthly streaming service. That doesn’t help me if I want to watch a movie when I’m stuck on a boring plane or train journey for a few hours where there is no wifi access. That’s the main reason I would go for the iPad Mini. I suspect they will put a retina screen in the iPad Mini 2nd Generation next year.

  • Gavin Blur

    this cheapens Amazon – Don’t trust what they tell me know!

  • Steffen Jobbs

    Little David Amazon is giving big Goliath Apple a tablet pounding. It’s only a matter of time before Apple just keels over and dies from loss of blood. Apple’s current $124 billion cash reserve should run out any day now.

  • Sollared
    I honestly think the Fire line is just useless piece of crap devices.
    But is your head really so far up the asses of Apple execs that you completely forgot the keynote unveiling the iPad Mini? The one that occurred just last week? The one where Apple “pulls out the old marketer’s trick of cherry picking a few choice specs to compare against the competition” for 10 straight minutes?
    DId you forget that already? Probably. That’s just what brainwashed people do. It’s no different than our current political front.

    Actually…they only compared the display. Cherry-picking one requires one spec, but it’s less demeaning when only one thing is being compared. In Amazon’s case, people may think these 5 or so features are the only features of the tablets and that Amozon wins on all fronts.

    In addition, the iPad will be able to play HD movies and TV shows. Just because the display isn’t HD doesn’t mean it can’t play HD content. That’s such a misleading misbelief.

    So it’s okay to do it as long as it’s only spec being compared? Even though in their comparison of the display they failed to note that it has a LOWER resolution than the device they were comparing it to and the fact that it is a useless 4:3 aspect ratio? It’s okay guys, Apple did the cherry picking, but on a lesser scale so that it would be fair and perfectly acceptable!

    As to your belief that the iPad Mini can play HD video, you should check your math on that. The iPad Mini’s lower resolution coupled with its 4:3 aspect ratio means it lacks the required number of pixels to play full HD video. It can play about 85% of HD, but not 100% HD. It can definitely download HD videos though!

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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