While people pay a lot of attention to the role that low power processors have played in the netbook revolution, Pixel Qi’s Mary Lou Jepsen is convinced there’s an even more important component: The display. She’s been showing off her company’s 3qi display which uses less power than traditional LCDs and can toggle between a sunlight readable black and white screen and a full color display for indoor use. A laptop’s display can easily consume more power than any other part of the computer, so low power screens like the 3qi can have a dramatic impact on battery life.
The other day Samsung announced it was working on a 10.1 inch LCD that uses half the electricity of a standard netbook screen. But there were few details available about how that display worked or how it compares with the 3qi.
Now it looks like Samsung is working on another technology that, like the 3qi, has two modes, an e-paper style mode and a fully color saturated mode. Unlike the 3qi, which can show moving pictures in either mode, Samsung’s e-Paper mode is a “memory mode” where the screen will display a static image without input, thus saving power. In “dynamic mode” the screen will work like a standard LCD.
Right now the 10.1 inch screens has a resolution of 320 x 250 pixels and only displays 64 colors, so it’s not quite ready for prime time. But it’s interesting to see another company working on new display technologies for netbooks.