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Displays Handhelds Power

Pixel Qi Demos 10" 1280x800 Pixel Screens 74

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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  • They should have a finished product about the time everyone else switches to 2560x1600 or 2048x1536.

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TD-Linux ( 1295697 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:47PM (#36303920)
      Or 640x400, at the rate that laptop resolution is going.
      • Re:Great! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Mitchell314 ( 1576581 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @11:08PM (#36304498)
        Or 2560 x 400, at least screens are getting wider.
        • by ogdenk ( 712300 )

          Yeah really, and the iPhone 6 will have some 6" 48,000dpi LCD at a pixel resolution beyond the range of current math coprocessors to comprehend. And the $4,500 MacBook AirPro base model will only have a 2560x400 display in glossy. Matte will cost you $2,000 more.

          And because Apple will lead the charge, expect a race to the bottom from everyone else to produce similar crap at retardedly low price points.

        • Well for a tablet that's not too bad: put it in e-book reader and turn the thing on it's short side. That'd be great for reading when you anyway want more vertical space instead of horizontal space (it's not just because that books are taller than that they're wide).
      • hmm, my experiance is that laptop screen resoloution has stayed at about the same. The 10 inchers are mostly 1024x600, the 12-13 inchers are mostly 1366x768 (which is slightly more pixels than the older 1280x800) as are the bottom of the barrel 15 inchers.

        • IOW, resolutions are getting worse over time.

          My first laptop was a Fujitsu Lifebook 765dx, with a Pentium-MMX 166 MHz CPU and a 12" screen. That screen was 1024x768.

          Nowadays, most 10-12" laptops are 1024x600 or 1376x768, barely any better.

          It's sad, really, when you think about modern LCD resolutions compared to the CRTs we had 10 years ago. :(

        • A few years ago, you could get 1400x1050 12-14" screens, or 15" 1600x1200 screens, and even 15" 1920x1200 screens when the widescreen fad got started. IBM even had a 2048x1536 15" screen in a few models, which is still the uncontested king of laptop screens. In comparison, the selection nowadays is crap, and generally you have to buy a massive 17" laptop just to get "full HD" which is only 1920x1080.
  • I'll take one just because it has the proper resolution for a 10 inch. I'm tired of these stupid 1024x600 netbook displays, and 16x9 for computers in general.
    • I agree. 16:10 is slightly better, but not much. I'd love to get a massive 4:3 monitor. 2048x1536 monitors exist, but they're "medical grade" and cost like it.

      • My IBM P275 can do 2048x1536, and I can actually force it a LITTLE higher... but anyway, it only cost like $100. Of course it's a CRT, I bought it used, and it weighs enough that the IKEA table I have it on has a noticable bend in it now, but it works like a dream, and I love the screen real-estate. I have another computer with 2 1080p LCDs... which is good enough for what I use it for, but I don't know what I'll do when my 275 eventuallly goes bust. Such a great monitor.
        • Yeah, I have two old Eizo F67 monitors. They only go to 1600x1200, but I bought them used for 3 euros.

          Except when watching DVDs, I find that 4:3 is still a much nicer ratio for a lot of things.

          • I don't mind watching DVDs on a 4:3 CRT because black is actually BLACK. Therefore, if you turn off enough lights, it's still a nice 16:9 image with no distractions. And I have quite a few 4:3 dvds too, so, 4:3 is obviously preferable for watching those. (And a few 4:3 bluray discs... Star Trek: TOS specifically)
  • has the same pixel density (1920x1200, 15") and aspect ratio, but LCD of course.

  • for all those of us with IBM Thinkpads:-) I've been wanting this for years.

  • Dear PixelQi: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ender_Stonebender ( 60900 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:37PM (#36303828) Homepage Journal

    Dear PixelQi guys:

    Please make a screen suitable for smartphones. There is a lot more need to use a smartphone than there is to use a laptop, as you can't control when you get incoming calls.

    Ender Stonebender

    • Heh. Just re-read that and realized it should have said "to use a smartphone outside than there is to use a laptop". It's late and I've been up since 5AM local time.

      • Answering a call just requires pressing a big button. If a poor screen makes that difficult, then it's a smartphone UI problem. On the other hand, being able to sit in the park or the garden and work over the summer is a killer feature for a laptop.
        • Two (additional) words: Text message.

          • If you are sending someone a text message that is so urgent that it can't wait for them to move into some shade to read it and respond, then you probably should have just called them.
            • Urgent? Try convenient. If I'm out in the open (park, beach, etc) do I want to go off to read a text that may be complete inane bullshit? No thanks, I'd rather just read it where I am without getting up.

  • Samsung's competing Liquavista tech, based on 'electrowetting' is supposed to be coming out soon, it sounds pretty good too. []

    • I think their problem will be scaling down to laptop ans smaller displays.

      I can see it working for TVs, but I have trouble seeing electro-wetting work on really small devices at the resolutions you'd need.

      Disclaimer: last time I used electro-wetting for displays was in 1997 and then the "pixels" we could achieve were about 2 mm and 64x64 resolution.

  • 1 year ago I was still kinda interested.

    Nowadays I'm just guessing there's an issue with their technology, or their marketing. With all the action and the need for differentiation in the tablet market, they've only managed to sign up one, 4th-tier player. There must be something wrong, don't hold your breath.

    • 1 year ago I was still kinda interested.

      Nowadays I'm just guessing there's an issue with their technology, or their marketing. With all the action and the need for differentiation in the tablet market, they've only managed to sign up one, 4th-tier player. There must be something wrong, don't hold your breath.

      Yep, I have been reading about Pixel Qi for the last year and a half. CNET even reported that Notion Ink will ship (in June 2010) a tablet sporting the Pixel Qi screen. A year later and Pixel Qi technology is still in the prototype stage. It seems that the technology has more short comings than is let on, and I doubt that this technology will be in any products anytime soon.

    • Makes you wonder where the problem lies.

      Is it reliability of the screens?

      Is manufacturing a problem? (on a technical level, I mean)

      Or is it simply the price, which almost certainly is much higher than a regular LCD screen?

      As with many products it's often hard to get going. Price is high, so not many people buying it, so relatively low numbers for manufacturing, resulting in high per-unit costs, keeping the price high.

      • I've talked to a laptop OEM about them (they're going into production in a few months with Pixel Qi screens). There are two problems:

        The first is the size. The Pixel Qi screens are slightly thicker than normal LCDs, which means that you can't use the same case design for TFT and Pixel Qi models.

        The second one is the price. These screens cost $65, while a 10" TFT costs something around $20. When you consider that ARM-based laptops retail in the $100-200 range, this is quite a significant difference.

  • by strack ( 1051390 )
    i just want my eink wallpaper already.
  • Speaking of new display technologies, the Mirasol display looks interesting: [] []
  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @12:23AM (#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 [] is a video where you can see some comparisons, and there are plenty more [] on YouTube. See for yourself.

    • Contrast does not mean the ability to work in bright light. For a reflective display, the ability to work in bright light is simply assumed. Since it reflects light, the brighter the light source the better. For emissive devices brightness is what determines the ability to work in bright light. It has to be able to emit a light bright enough to overcome the natural reflection and thus be visible.

      Contrast is the difference between the brightest something can display and the darkest. A device has a high contr

      • There's no confusion here. When I say "low contrast", that's precisely what I mean - the difference between white (it's really more like goldish in this mode) and black. It's way lower than on Kindle given identical light conditions (obviously, the absolute value would depend on how much you shine on the screen in the first place)

        The reason why Adam is hard to use in the sun is because of its insanely glossy screen (one of the many original promises on which they reneged was to have a matte screen).

    • by rsidd ( 6328 )

      I own an Adam too. The Pixel Qi is quite usable outdoors, though not as high-contrast as old-fashioned paper (or, probably, e-ink). It's a light-gray rather than white background, and dark-gray rather than black text. But I've used it outdoors for up to half an hour and it's very comfortable.

      Indoors, the backlight is required but I leave it permanently at the lowest setting (and I wish there was a still lower setting). It is much better than any LCD I've used.

      As for the glossiness, that's why they ship

      • by tizan ( 925212 )

        I have an Adam Pixel Qi too and i love it for its uniqueness. Its readability allows me sit outside more and read or browse or even watch something . And if you want to watch a movie inside that is possible too ...try that on an e-ink reader (though it is not as vivid/high contrast as lcd screens out there).

        That is what you get a versatile screen rather than just an indoor screen or a low fps screen.

        It is like buying a hybrid car know what you getting is not a bicycle nor a muscle car but

  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @12:34AM (#36304948)

    Really once you see one of these, you will never want to see one again.

    This is a two mode screen and both modes are mediocre.

    1: E-Ink mode: This is what all the hoopla is about, but it is terrible compared to a Kindle, it NEEDs sunlight to be visibly, you aren't going to use this mode indoors, so it is a very part time outdoor sunny mode. Most of the time you will be using:

    2: Color LCD mode: Which is worse than the cheapest LCD on the market. Colors are weak and viewing angles are terrible.

    This just combines two of the worse displays on the market into one. Figure out what you actually need a display to do and get a one mode display that does an excellent job (Color LCD or E-ink) at that, instead of a display that will at best always be second rate.

    • by rsidd ( 6328 )

      2: Color LCD mode: Which is worse than the cheapest LCD on the market. Colors are weak and viewing angles are terrible.

      But the brightness can be set at minimum, and I'm the only one viewing the thing most of the time. It's not a family entertainment system. It's good for reading, surfing the net, and some other things.

      But it is true, you need to see it before you buy it. And that is hard to do.

  • I was working with 1600x1200 in the year 2001!

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