OK, so you’ve probably heard of Pixel Qi‘s display technology which offers the ability to toggle between a high power, full color more and a low power, high contrast mode that almost looks like an E Ink display. The advantages are the ability to see the screen outdoors, even in bright sunlight, and lower power consumption. But just how much lower?

When I met with the Pixel Qi folks earlier this year they told me that the screen uses 5 times less power in high contrast mode, dropping from about 2.5 watts to 0.5 watts. But the screen isn’t the only thing that matters, so overall energy use is going to vary from device to device.

Jkkmobile caught up with Pixel Qi this week at Computex, and they plugged a demo tablet with a Pixel Qi display into a Kill A Watt device that measures energy consumption. When you shut off the backlight, total power consumption drops from about 6 watts to about 4 watts — which could prolong battery life by as much as 2 hours on a low power tablet or netbook with an ARM-based processor.

You can check out the video after the break.

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4 replies on “Pixel Qi low power display power management demonstrated”

  1. There is no power savings at all if they don’t ship in quantity. It seems like I have been reading about this display forever. I want it to succeed but I am beginning to think it will never actually hit the market.

    1. I’m impatient too. And, I’m still waiting for that flood of ARM-based netbooks that was supposed to be coming. What’s the hold-up? I’ve got money in hand, ready to buy one.

  2. A very interesting point raised in this video is that the Pixel Qi screen itself is very thin. Most of the screen thickness in a traditional application will come from the backlight. That raises the possibility of some very interesting applications like very thing tablets which are only illuminated with ambient lighting (like actual paper).

    I’ve been following the work of Mary Lou for quite a while, and it’s nice to see great research make its way into products that in turn make their way into the market (although this we’re still waiting for that last part). However, the Internet is filled with gadget-lusters who are holding this display up as THE “killer” feature that must be present on their ideal device. I too am expecting it to be great. However, the fact is that none of us have plunked down our hard earned cash on a device with a Pixel Qi display, and none of us have had the chance to live with all the good and/or bad that it has to offer. Before we all lose our minds over our own fantasies about what we think the display will be, it’s important to remember that there’s a huge difference between great technologies, great products, and great companies. It’s very hard to create a prototype of an innovative new display, and it’s much, much harder to be a long term player in a technology sector. There are so many potential points of failure for such a company (customer products and service quality, supplier relationships, accounting, management, sustained innovation, partnerships, etc.). It’s worth keeping all that in mind.

  3. Would have been interesting to see what a system power use would be without the Pixel Qi screen (side by side that comparison).

    So, using the Pixel Qi screen the difference between modes is the 2 watts of power. Meaning that is just a power reduction of just the screen getting switched over to the less power hungry mode? However, Mary Lou has been preaching that more power savings can be gained by matching the screens to the OS-Apps-motherboard (bios) and how the CPU CAN BE turned on/off during use with ARM and now Intel Morrestown CPUs.

    Remember that the OLPC XO-1 had the built-in ability of turning off the CPU to go down to idle along at very little power use. The OLPC XO-1 did run FLASH videos even with the low powered CPU. It was/is and amazing machine. Intel didn’t have anything that could match it. To date, no netbook maker is doing that same thing. I have wondered why no one is building and exact knock-off of the OLPC XO-1 with more RAM and bigger FLASH storage.

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