Pixel Qi‘s 3qi display is a low power dual mode LCD display that can be used either with or without a backlight. With the backlight on, the screen looks pretty much like any other LCD display — and uses maybe a tiny bit less power. Turn off the backlight and you can easily read the screen outdoors in direct sunlight thanks to a sort of black and white mode — and the screen draws 80% less power.
But what does that mean in real world conditions? Clearly a display is only one of many laptop components that draws power. A few weeks ago Pixel Qi and MakerShed started shipping 3qi displays that hardware hackers could use to replace the screens in some 10 inch netbooks. Engadget’s Joanna Stern took one of these kits for a test, and she was impressed both with how well the screen looked outside and how much it improved battery life.
You can check out the complete post for details and a step by step guide to opening up a Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 netbook and replacing the screen. But the short version is that the netbook ran for about 5 hours and 45 minutes during a video rundown test while the backlight was turned off. That’s about 1 hour, 14 minutes longer than the netbook ran for with the screen set at 70% brightness. And with the LCD that shipped with the netbook, the S10-2 ran for just 4 hours, 21 minutes in the same test.
Keep in mind, that’s a video rundown test. Most computer batteries will give out pretty quickly if you’re not doing anything but playing videos. Joanna says the computer lasted about 8 hours when she was using it as an oversized eBook reader. And that’s not bad for a netbook that was never really known for its battery endurance. You should probably expect even better results from a machine like the Asus Eee PC 1005PE, which gets around 10 hours of run time even a normal LCD display.
You can check out Joanna’s hands-on video after the break, and find more photos and details at Engadget.