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Pixel Qi is the LCD Screen Type We're Waiting For

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 22 comments

We want this on all of our mobile devices.

Still clear with the backlight off, just no colorStill clear with the backlight off, just no color

Pixel Qi's flat panel display technology, since its announcement last year, has promised a new type of screen that's far more usable and efficient than what we have on our notebooks today.

The company has a special LCD that offers a dual-mode that can operate both in a traditional back-lit manner as well as a highly reflective, low-power mode that nearly resembles e-ink. The result is a screen that works in low light conditions as well as in extremely bright areas, even in direct sunlight.

At Computex, we caught a demonstration of production panels that have been improved since they were shown earlier this year at CES. Since January, the model display's power consumption on a netbook-sized screen in transmissive mode has dropped from 0.7W to 0.4W.

Backlight nearly offBacklight nearly offBacklight at halfBacklight at halfBacklight at fullBacklight at full

On display was the retrofitted Lenovo S10 netbook model that features a wider viewing angle than the regular panel. The user can adjust the brightness even down to a very low level in fluorescent office lighting and the screen was still clearly usable. By turning off the backlight completely, the screen takes a monochrome appearance not unlike e-ink from the ebook readers on the market today. The contrasts aren't quite as strong as true e-ink, but you gain an immense advantage of being able to turn on the backlight to get your colors back.

The panel was fitted both on matte and glossy displays, and it was clear that the technology looked better on the matte display. In the backlight-off mode, the display relies on external light sources, and having a glossy coating on over the image does nothing to help the picture.

Also demonstrated was the same screen technology with a capacitive sensor on top of the screen, facilitating touchscreen features. This was shown on both a netbook and a tablet from AccuSee, and the touch functions are better suited for the tablet. A Wacom tablet was also outfitted with the Pixel Qi technology, which worked just as well in both modes.

With the power savings and the added usability, we want this screen on all of our mobile devices. Pixel Qi panels are now in production, we hope to see the first products to be announced soon and to hit this summer.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    Kelavarus , June 6, 2010 9:19 AM
    I have an Asus EeePC 900, and honestly, whatever it is, when I turn the brightness down to 0, it looks very similar to eReaders. Gives me nor anyone else I know any eyestrain at all, including ones who complain about it on their current laptops.

    But anyway, innovation is always good.
  • 10 Hide
    godnodog , June 6, 2010 12:33 PM
    Good, cause if there is something I hate is that mirrow finishing in laptop screens, boy is that annoying!!!
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    Kelavarus , June 6, 2010 9:19 AM
    I have an Asus EeePC 900, and honestly, whatever it is, when I turn the brightness down to 0, it looks very similar to eReaders. Gives me nor anyone else I know any eyestrain at all, including ones who complain about it on their current laptops.

    But anyway, innovation is always good.
  • Display all 22 comments.
  • -1 Hide
    damonation , June 6, 2010 10:19 AM
    Awesome, any guesses on how long it will take till it becomes a mainstream technology?
  • 8 Hide
    liemfukliang , June 6, 2010 10:33 AM
    I hope this is the true LCD 24 bit screen. Not typical 18 bit emulation TN LCD Panel.
  • -5 Hide
    bogcotton , June 6, 2010 11:25 AM
    The future! Book like black and white, and full colour video.

    God would I be pissed if i bought an e-reader!
  • 3 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , June 6, 2010 12:24 PM
    Interesting article. I wonder what it means in terms of energy savings and extended battery life.
  • 10 Hide
    godnodog , June 6, 2010 12:33 PM
    Good, cause if there is something I hate is that mirrow finishing in laptop screens, boy is that annoying!!!
  • 0 Hide
    MJRSnyder , June 6, 2010 12:37 PM
    This is great and all but the $150 computers for the XO project have screens very much like this, and they have been around for years. Its still cool tech though
  • 1 Hide
    g00ey , June 6, 2010 1:02 PM
    Here's a summary of the new transreflective technologies that are coming to the market:

    A comparison of second generation displays ... (besttablereview.com)
  • 0 Hide
    foldsomething , June 6, 2010 2:08 PM
    this is similar technology to what's in the OLPC laptop. It works very well!
  • -5 Hide
    digiex , June 6, 2010 2:51 PM
    KelavarusI have an Asus EeePC 900, and honestly, whatever it is, when I turn the brightness down to 0, it looks very similar to eReaders. Gives me nor anyone else I know any eyestrain at all, including ones who complain about it on their current laptops.But anyway, innovation is always good.


    The article was all about back lighting not brightness.
  • -1 Hide
    zaam , June 6, 2010 7:07 PM
    Finally! A laptop screen that I can use under direct sunlight! Even using my laptop while in the car I can barely read anything on it. Hopefully the response time and contrast ratios are decent on this screen.
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , June 7, 2010 4:01 AM
    This will be good for laptops but won't beat electrophoretic e-readers for power consumption due to the need to constantly refresh the pixels. Far more flexible usage than electrophoretic displays though.
  • 0 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , June 7, 2010 5:19 AM
    this is an attempt to extend the life of netbooks and laptops vs those i-pads and tablets, Id still personally prefer actual keyboards but then again the next gen might prefer a flat surface, its like typing vs using a pencil or a pen nowadays
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , June 7, 2010 5:56 AM
    I hope this is good and true, their good to see but when you buy them their disappointing.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 7, 2010 10:34 AM
    I saw this, and it is kind of useless unless you have no need for graphics apps or photo-realistic graphics. It would be a reasonable screen replacement for say the Kindle, but is awful for a PC. The backlit modes look horrible compared to a PC or iPad screen, but for a straight e-reader, it would be useful to be able to read in full daylight, yet get at least a passable colour screen indoors.
  • -1 Hide
    bphill561 , June 7, 2010 2:54 PM
    The reason this looks similar to the OLPC screen is because it is a refinement of that technology from the same designer. Image that, something I read in popular science was useful and actually came to market, but then I need to read something at the gym...

    Here is the article, it is quite good.

    http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2010-01/pixel-qi-lcd-screen-could-finally-kill-paper-forever
  • 0 Hide
    RipperjackAU , June 7, 2010 4:05 PM
    Yes, yes, yes... this is all well and good. However this is the screen I am waiting for:

  • 0 Hide
    jecastej , June 7, 2010 4:12 PM
    Very good to have near eReader quality on every mobile screen and reduce energy consumption.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , June 7, 2010 4:33 PM
    I read over on Engadget that the panel has a light sensor to automatically adjust its settings based on the ambient light level (hopefully with optional overrides available).
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 7, 2010 5:31 PM
    I thought OLED displays were going to be the latest and greatest in laptop screens. They are low power, have no drop off when viewed from an angle, and look fantastic.
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