One of the most important parts of any netbook (or any computer for that matter), is the display. But there hasn’t been much progress in netbook display technology over the last 12 months or so. Virtually every netbook on the market today has a 1024 x 600 or 1024 x 576 pixel screen. Some are 8.9 inches while others are 10.1 or 10.2 inches. And some are matte while others are glossy. But for the most part they function exactly the same. But that could all change soon.
Next week at least two companies plan to show off new technologies that could change the way we interact with netbook displays. Pixel Qi will be showing off the first prototypes of its new screen at SID Display Week (and again at Computex the following week). The Pixel Qi screens will have several modes, including a high-contrast, low power e-Paper mode that will let you read outdoors with minimal fuss. For other situations, the screens will be capable of displaying millions of colors at high screen resolutions. Pixel Qi’s Mary Lou Jepsen (one of the designers of the original OLPC XO Laptop) says she’s already playing with one of the screens which has been crammed into an Acer Aspire One laptop.
Ocular Incorporated is also expected to show off a new screen at SID Display Week. Ocular’s product will be a capacitive touchscreen designed for netbooks. Most netbook touchscreens today use the cheaper resistive touch technology which gives screens a slightly washed out look. Resistive touch screens can also only register a single touch at a time, while capacitive displays can support multi-touch gestures. Oculuar will be making screens with sizes ranging from 3.5 inches to 10.4 inches, with prices as low as $22. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you need to place a bulk order to get that price though, so don’t go expecting to pick up a dirt cheap touchscreen to place in your Dell Mini just yet.