One of the reasons E Ink displays consume less power than LCD screens is because they only draw power when the image on the screen changes. You can leave a Kindle or NOOK reader open to a page in a book for weeks without any noticeable power drain. Try doing that with a notebook or tablet and see how far you get.
But chip maker Intel is pushing a new technology it calls Panel Self Refresh which could bring some of the same power-saving features to full color computer and tablet displays.
Basically a combination of magic on the chip, display, and software, would allow screens to save power by only refreshing the image on the screen when it changes.
If you’re watching a video or playing a game you want the screen to refresh 30 to 60 times per second so that the moving graphics look smooth. But if you’re reading an eBook or browsing the web, odds are you’re staring at a static image on the screen for a few seconds at a time. So why does your display constantly refresh the image?
Intel says its Panel Self Refresh technology could allow for mobile devices with longer battery life by working more like E Ink displays… but with color.
Of course, notebooks, tablets, and other mobile computers have plenty of other components that use more electricity than those in eReaders, including faster processors, higher quality screens, sensors, and cameras. So you probably won’t be measuring notebook battery life in months anytime soon.