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Displays Handhelds Power

Pixel Qi Demos 10" 1280x800 Pixel Screens 74

Posted by timothy
from the because-the-xoom-hates-the-light dept.
Compared to their dumber e-ink cousins, tablets with LCD screens suffer at least two notable disadvantages: their batteries last hours or days, rather than weeks (or months), and they're notoriously hard to read in the sunshine. Neither of these problems are likely to be licked soon, but the gap may be shrinking: Mary Lou Jepsen's OLPC spinoff Pixel Qi has now shown off a 10", 1280x800 panel. Pixel Qi's screens are well-known, though not currently widely adopted, for their ability to run in a high-contrast, low-power greyscale mode as well as a still-frugal color mode. Though the company is currently showing prototypes rather than a shipping version of the new high-resolution screens, it's reason to renew hope for a long-lived color-screen tablet that's comfortable in the sunlight.
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Pixel Qi Demos 10" 1280x800 Pixel Screens

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:52PM (#36303954)

    No, the story here is a panel that switches between RGB backlit LCD and monochrome reflective LCD instantly. The summary makes it pretty clear this isn't e-ink, so I have no clue where you got that rubbish.

    The reflective mode is not eink; it won't persist an image with no power, but OTOH it's instant-updating (usable for video, etc.). It's like a transflective LCD, but instead of using absorbing color filters on the front of the screen to generate RGB, it generates the RGB in the backlight (using a diffraction grating to separate out white light). Not only is this more efficient in terms of backlight power, but it also means that the reflective path has no filter losses (vs ~75% loss in a typical transflective) -- the penalty for this is no color in reflective mode. However, the display is designed so programs can take advantage of the monochrome mode; the screen uses square subpixels (instead of ~3:1 aspect in a standard RGB LCD), so you can get nearly double the resolution, which is nice for high-quality text rendering.

  • by iamhassi (659463) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:58PM (#36304426) Journal
    I didn't understand it either, 1280x800 10" screen? My touchscreen laptop is 1280x768 and only 8.9", what's the big deal? Then I saw this video comparing the Pixel Qi to an iPad outdoors. [youtube.com]
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @11:23PM (#36304880) Journal

    Pixel Qi's screens are well-known, though not currently widely adopted, for their ability to run in a high-contrast, low-power greyscale mode

    No, they're not.

    I own a Notion Ink Adam - one of the few devices on the market today which ships with a Pixel Qi screen. And I can tell you this - the contrast in that low-power mode is horrible. If you expected something like modern eInk readers - say, Kindle 3 or the recent Nook - forget about it. It's actually worse than my first eInk reader that I bought back in 2007!

    The contrast is low enough that reading from Adam inside during the day with no light source shining directly at the screen is impossible. Outside, it's okayish... except still not particularly bright, and glossy screen kills the image. Either way, it's nothing to boast about - sure, it's better in the sun than TFT, but still... And the technology is not free - in "normal TFT" mode, its contrast and colors are less than average TN panel.

    Frankly, after seeing it for myself, I understood why there isn't a long list of devices announced to use the tech despite it currently being in production. Right now it's a pretty huge trade-off that probably doesn't make sense for most users.

    Here [youtube.com] is a video where you can see some comparisons, and there are plenty more [youtube.com] on YouTube. See for yourself.

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