Pixel Qi‘s low power displays are based on standard LCD display technology — but the company’s screens support a high contrast mode that allows you to turn off the backlight and use the screens in direct sunlight — or in any room where you just want to save power.

There are about a dozen devices available with Pixel Qi displays — but so far there aren’t any big name consumer products with the screens. But Pixel Qi founder Mary Lou Jepsen wants to make it clear that’s not because the company’s screens can’t match the competition.

Pixel Qi power comparison

She says Pixel Qi now has the tools to produce displays that match the 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution of the latest iPad. She says Pixel Qi screen can also match the contrast, color saturation, and viewing angles of the iPad display.

And they can do that while using a tiny fraction of the power consumed by the iPad screen. That could lead to devices with smaller batteries and longer battery life.

To be fair, you only get that kind of power savings when viewing the screens outdoors. That’s because you have to use the maximum brightness on an iPad if you want the screen to be visible outdoors, while you can turn off the backlight altogether on a Pixel Qi screen and use only ambient light — but you’ll be looking at a nearly black and white image if you do that.

Still, Jepsen seems a little surprised that Apple would literally double the size of the iPad’s battery just to support the new power-hungry screen when there are lower power alternatives available.

Unfortunately, Pixel Qi displays face a bit of a catch-22 right now. They’re more expensive than traditional displays, largely because it costs more per unit to produce small quantities of LCD screens. But until a company picks Pixel Qi for its next blockbuster tablet the demand will probably remain low while prices remain high.

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3 replies on “Pixel Qi promises retina-quality low power displays”

  1. I want a Pixel QI 1280×768 (at least) 7 inch device, that has features like the Toshiba Thrive or the Archos 80 G9 plus (faster version – yet with ability for external keyboard and mouse, that many Android devices lack…) but, with AA battery like the Norhtec Edubook.   Problem with these devices, many of them is, that in 3-4 years, you might find it hard to even find a replacement battery.   So, AA battery, additional thickness, is ok with me, don’t need super thin, just mobile, outdoors use, long battery use per charge, and AA battery.  If someone built this, they would sell a ton of them… really, I know a few other geeks that would get this.  Maybe when Intel comes into the game with a low power processor that will turn off when just viewing screen or writing an email, we will see more options?

  2. These peoples’ efforts are all well and good, but as Microsoft (Dell, HP, and their mediocrity) have shown again and again, the best technology doesn’t always triumph in the marketplace.

    When Sony (remember them?) was dominant in TVs with its Trinitron, it could only price itself up to 20% higher.  Beyond that, buyers balked at paying more, despite the superiority of the product.

    Besides, in Pixel Qi’s case, there’s a very simple workaround:  don’t take the display outside unless you have to.  Moreover, they need to concentrate on bigger displays as GPS units don’t seem to have a problem generally being seen outdoors. 

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