Mirasol Demo Proves Dual-Screen Readers have a Short Lifeline.

Posted on 18 February 2010 by

mirasol Before you watch the video below, take a look at the video I shot of the Entourage Edge at CES. It shows a dual-screen reader with E-ink/E-paper and traditional LCD technology. It’s huge, heavy and will be expensive to produce. There’s no reason to have two screens apart from a comfort factor (it looks like a book) and to get round the limitations of LCD and e-ink displays. The latter problem, as I suggested in the article, can be solved by using a dual-mode screen; that is, one that can be used as a high-refresh-rate transflective display using ambient light and as traditional back-lit solution.

Qualcom’s offering is the Mirasol display technology which, like the Pixel Qi technology, offers an amazing experience in ambient light without the need for a backlight. The difference between the two solutions seems to be that Pixel-Qi is a standard LCD screen offering high refresh rates but only a black-and-white ambient light experience. The Mirasol display has a lower refresh rate but offers color in the ambient light scenario. Refresh rates on the Mirasol technology don’t appear to be good enough for a smooth HD video experience (I’m guessing we were seeing about 10fps in the demo) but for the ‘snacking’ that many of us do when browsing and reading magazines, it seems perfect. I’d love to see a Snapdragon-powered version of this as a home browser, music player, book reader and maybe even car navigation device.

The days of the dual-screen as a workaround for the limitations of e-ink and traditional back-lit LCDs are numbered.

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12 Comments For This Post

  1. UMPCPortal says:

    New article: Mirasol Demo Proves Dual-Screen Readers have a Short Lifeline. http://bit.ly/a2L5oi

  2. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    RT @umpcportal: New article: Mirasol Demo Proves Dual-Screen Readers have a Short Lifeline. http://bit.ly/a2L5oi < This got me excited!

  3. christian kurz says:

    Dual screens have significant advantages over single screen devices which just cant be accomplished with a mirasol/pixel Qi display:
    Dual screen devices offer a smaller form factor for a given screen size.
    The two screens can be choosen to suit specific tasks.
    Two screens in a foldable device can be fold together to reduce risk of scratching.

    In my opinion, dual screen devices are much more versatile and better to use than single screen solutions.

    I would opt for a dual screen device with the following specs:
    4″ pixel Qi touchscreen 800×480
    4″ e-paper 800×480 with transparent 40key-keyboard overlay as seen here:
    http://gizmodo.com/306718/unique-cellphone-techno+demoed-at-ceatec-2007

    That way youd always have a low power screen to use for any phone and pim task and a configurable keyboard which suits the needs of each application…

  4. HoboJ says:

    Honestly I’m of the belief that dual screens are a fad. Once OLED technology matures it’s quite likely we’ll see devices with OLED screens that can be folded up to save space and serve the same purpose.

  5. Mike Cane says:

    >>> Pixel-Qi is a standard LCD screen offering high refresh rates but only a black-and-white ambient light experience

    This is simply not true, Chippy. You’ve seen primarily B&W because they’ve highlighted the eBook experience on it. I’ve seen color video playing in videos of the over-hyped vaporware Adam.

  6. anon says:

    What do you mean? Pixel Qi is black-and-white with the backlight turned off, just like we’ve known since the beginning and seen in demo units (and the OLPC). Unless I’ve missed a break-through, the _ambient_light_ experience Chippy talked about is grayscale only. You get colour with the backlight on, but then you don’t save any power compared to a normal back-lit LCD.

    The point with Pixel Qi is you get the choice, and normal LCD performance, right now with existing technology.

  7. Hoj says:

    Why doesn’t the full screen button not work on these videos?

  8. Hojo says:

    Why doesn’t the full screen button not work on these videos?

  9. tmarks11 says:

    For an ereader which is focused on Textbooks (like Entourage initially stated), I think dual screens are necessary. Every professor who I work with has stated that ereaders won’t work unless there is a way to conveniently have multiple textbooks open and work from all of them.

    ie, two screens.

    For those of you who have two monitors on your desktop, you know how important that additional window on your “computer world” is. I think ereader is the same way.

    Good for casual reading? No way. But for the limited world of textbook replacements at a university, I think it is a necessity.

    Now if this thing had two 7″ screeens….

  10. Alessandro Tucci says:

    RT @umpcportal: New article: Mirasol Demo Proves Dual-Screen Readers have a Short Lifeline. http://bit.ly/a2L5oi

  11. Sam says:

    tmarks11: There’s an easier way to get two textbooks open–get two devices. You can buy two Kindles or a netbook and a Kindle for the price of an Entourage Edge.

    What would be missing would be integration (copy/paste, etc) between the screens, but that’s a Small Matter of Software *grin*. Since Amazon has released an SDK, it might actually be a reasonably achievable SMOP. (There’s open source software for PCs that integrates multiple computers into a single workspace, i.e. a desktop and a laptop, drag windows from one to another, all controlled by a single keyboard and mouse…)

    Actually, I think the Edge would actually benefit if the two screens were detachable, even if they remained connected by a cable.

  12. tmarks11 says:

    wow. I think you just came up with the ultimate idea. Detachable screen would rock. You could use it simply as a (lighterwight) tablet with one screen removed.

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