Qualcomm’s Mirasol display technology combines some of the best features of E Ink and LCD displays. Mirasol displays offer a full range of colors, but use far less power than most color screens.
You can also view the screens in direct sunlight or using other ambient light, because they don’t need require a backlight. They also use far less energy than a typical color display, although when manufacturers do employ an optional backlight, the color display looks much better.
We’ve been hearing about Mirasol displays for a couple of years, and Qualcomm has been showing off demos at trade shows for almost as long. But today a Korean company has finally launched the first device that uses a Mirasol display.
Korean bookseller Kyobo is introducing an eBook reader with a 5.7 inch, 1024 x 768 pixel Mirasol display. It has a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 processor and runs a customized version of Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread. This model also appears to have a backlight.
The eReader sells in Korea for the equivalent of $310 US, although Kyobo book club members can pick it up for a lower price.
Kyobo says the device can offer “weeks” of reading time — assuming you read for 30 minutes a day with the display set at 25 percent brightness and the WiFi turned off.
You could say the same thing about pretty much any Android tablet that gets 7 hours of battery life or better, since 30 minutes a day is just 3.5 hours per week. In other words, the first Mirasol device has an outdoor readable display, but it’s not really clear yet if the low power display really provides better battery life than you’d get from most other color displays.
There’s no word on when we’ll start to see Mirasol readers outside of Korea, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear more about Qualcomm’s display technology at CES in January.