One of the most important parts of a netbook, or any laptop for that matter, is the screen. And right now, most netbook screens look a lot alike. They come in 9 and 10 inch flavors and with a few exceptions, they tend to support 1024 x 600 pixel displays. A few newer models have touchscreens. And then there’s Pixel Qi, a company that wants to completely revolutionize the way we think about laptop and eBook reader screens.
Pixel Qi is headed by Mary Lou Jepsen, one of the co-founders of OLPC who helped develop the screen for the original XO Laptop. Her goal is to develop displays that use far les power than today’s LCD screens. At the same time, she wants these displays to be readable in direct sunlight. The idea is that they should be usable in developing nations where access to electricity is scarce. But the technology could change the way we think about laptops in the developed world as well.
The company’s first product is called the 3Qi and it’s a display designed to work in three different modes. It will have a black and white, outdoor readable mode, an e-paper mode, and a high resolution LCD mode. The 10 inch screens are designed for netbooks and eBook readers and CNET reports that Pixel Qi will be ready to start sending 3Qi displays to vendors as soon as next month. At first only sample orders will be available, but the company could begin shipping in higher volume by this summer and these displays could end up in next generation OLPC XO Laptops and other netbooks later this year.
Eventually Pixel Qi will begin to incorporate touchscreen and multitouch technology into its displays. But for now the goal is to reduce power consumption and improve outdoor readability.
Update: According to Mary Lou Jepsen’s blog, it sounds like the 3Qi is compatible with most netbooks that take a 10.1 inch display. In other words, end users might even be able to pop out a standard display and replace it with a Pixel Qi screen — if and when the displays are made available to the general public.