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.

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7 replies on “Pixel Qi display tested: Prolongs netbook battery life by about 25%”

  1. My order from MakerShed came quickly. I just installed the Pixel Qi screen in an HP Mini 110 and I am blown away by the results. Battery life overall is up 25% in real life conditions. The guys at the coffee shop who squint and cover their screens with their jackets because the building has three glass walls are falling over themselves to look at my screen (which gets even better when the sun shines directly on it). I was very cautious taking off the bezel of the the HP, but still had a few plastic chips flying around. I heard that HP is dumping the 110 series to up their price point in the market. I haven’t figured why anyone would need more netbook than this. I put a SD card in and configured it for a 1GB Readyboost drive figuring that I would need to buy a 2GB Ram upgrade, but so far the performance is impressive on all but the most processor intensive activities. I put great eBook reader software called calibre on the HP and use eeerotate so that I can use the touchpad with the screen in portrait so that use my right thumb for page scrolling and next page. My friend who managed to pay 850 for an iPad is groaning with envy.

    1. Could you please tell me the exact version of your HP mini 110?Is there a key to turn off the backlighting completely?Thank you.

  2. Any idea if there are any more than a dozen of these out in the wild? How many did MakerShed sell? Any idea if/when these will be available again or are they still mostly vaporware?

    1. Pixel Qi and Maker Shed both say that more are on the way… but they’ve been saying that for the past week or two, so read it how you will.

  3. The power saving is nice, but this screen adds two nice tools to the tool box of any net/notebook you might have: stable non-flicker ebook reading & hi-contrast direct sunlight viewing.

  4. The truth is that this could be a great for people in developing nations where the power supply can be tempormental but where they need more than just the most barebones netbook. Coulpled with a good solid state hard drive this could really improve the battery life of most computers [though you are right in that it won’t help for high preformance stuff as much].

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