Tag Archive | "transflective"

Mirasol Transflective Displays. Faster, Brighter, Touch-Enabled. (Product Update Video)

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Qualcomm gave us an update on Mirasol this morning. If you remember, Mirasol is a daylight-readable (transflective) display technology with color. The screen refresh rate and colour depth isn’t that good for video and photo experiences but for reading, it’s getting better every time I see it.

Power-saving, daylight readable and now with touch and sidelight. Here’s an video in which I give you an update about timescales for mass production. (Expect products in 2013.)






Sunbook offers Advantages for Outdoor Computing

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Ultra-mobile computing includes daylight usage and despite attempts at high-brightness screens in the mobile computing market, there has never been a truly low-cost mainstream solution on a device larger than about 4”. Transflective screens have been around for years and I vividly remember the Nokia E90 and how it worked so well in the sun so it’s good to finally be seeing transflective screens on a netbook. OK, so the OLPC had a transflective screen too but that wasn’t exactly mainstream!

Thanks to Clover we now have the Sunbook to consider. It’s a 10” netbook running the Pinetrail platform (single core N450) with a high capacity battery. The key feature is the Pixel Qi transflective screen.

You’ve got two advantages to consider. Sunlight readability and battery life.

“Turning off the display backlight cuts the power consumption in half, providing battery life up to 12 hrs. or more.”


In theory, there’s quite a gain to be had from turning off a backlight. At full backlight power on a netbook, a screen can take 2-3 watts of energy. On a netbook that can idle at 4W (screen off) it’s close to a doubling of energy consumption. In practice though you’re using the device when the screen is on and the netbook is draining an average 8W. The screen, in this scenario, is about 25% of the drain. In addition to that, one rarely operates the screen at 100% and rarely stays in the sun for 8 hours! I am sticking to my original estimate that a transflective screen will add about 10% battery life for the average netbook user although I’d be happy to do some detailed testing – Clover! I don’t want to belittle the advantages here because there are definitely users that would get a bigger battery life advantage and given bright ambient lighting, there are indoor advantages too but I don’t want people running out an paying a $300 premium expecting a doubling of battery life. This is a specialist device for a niche customer.

Sunlight readability is the second advantage of the screen and is the real reason you would be looking at buying the Sunbook. Just being able to use a netbook in the sun for 30 minutes is worth a lot to many people. I can think of many vertical markets where this is important. My Solar-ultra mobile PC tour would have been much easier for example!

Testing needs to done on the netbook itself to see if it comes up to scratch but if it does, we’ve got a unique and price-breaking product here.

A PDF brochure is available here which mentions some splash resistance. The Clover Sunbook website is here and the current price is $795. We’re trying to get hold of a sample for testing.

Via Liliputing

Pixel Qi DIY Screen Installed and Tested

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pixelqidiy90 On the day that I stepped outside with my netbook to connect a solar panel and thought ‘hmm, a PixelQi screen would be nice,’ along comes a DIY article and test from Engadget on how to fit a PixelQi screen. Joanna Stern also gives some thoughts about usability and runs some tests to see just how much battery life the new screen would save over the old. It matches what we expected.

Installation on a Lenovo Ideapad S10-2 seems very straight-forward and the results in the outdoor scenario are fantastic. Viewing angles are as tight as I experienced them at CES earlier this year though so you’ll have to be using this at the correct angle to get the best out of it. Indoors, the screen performs much like any other LCD, LED-backlit screen.

The interesting thing about Engadget’s report is the battery life testing. A lot of people have been raving about saving huge amounts of power by turning the backlight off and yes, expect 1-2 watts power saving in this test but it’s not a real-world scenario. In a normal office scenario with reasonable lighting, you’ll still need the backlight on to view the color. Given that the screen only accounts for 20-30% of battery drain, the maximum that can be saved is 30% but in indoor use, with a 30% backlight setting, you may only save 0.5-1W. On a modern netbook that’s about 10-15%. Engadget’s test shows a 25% difference in battery drain with backlight on (70%) and off. That’s in-line with what we predicted.

Based on battery life alone, it’s not worth the money but how much is it worth to be able to finally use the device outdoors? For mobile computing or even train usage, we think it’s worth it. Interestingly, on a ‘smart’ device like the Airlife 100, the battery life savings would be more significant. You could expect usage to rise from 10hrs to 15 or more as the screen backlight forms a larger part of the power envelope.

Full how-to and report at Engadget.

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

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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.