Fast Company

7-Inch Tablets: How Pixel Qi's Screen Will Go Mainstream

Pixel Qi

We've been hearing about Pixel Qi's half-E-ink, half-LCD tech for ages, but with new info on its development it looks like it's about to burst onto the mainstream. Seven-inch tablet PCs may earn Pixel Qi some deserved limelight.

Pixel Qi and its tech are intimately intertwined with the XO PC; there's even a tussle over which tech was better. So Pixel Qi came up with a half-and-half solution.

E-ink's history is simple--it's gone from strength to strength and now rocks inside every Amazon Kindle device. Meanwhile Pixel Qi's system hasn't hit the mainstream at all, despite much promise. The most that's happened is that a DIY kit for adapting your netbook's screen has been released, and that has been selling pretty well.

But the company hasn't been merely bumbling along. It's just announced that it's completed its first round of Series B funding--giving it the necessary cash injection to further develop its technology and the company's business model. It also looks like part of the holdup in the tech's arrival has been a constriction in the manufacturing-supply chain, and the DIY kit was a simple way to get the tech out on sale without having to promise delivery of display units by the million, which is what a major manufacturer of computers would definitely demand. Now "the situation has eased" and "factory capacity is widely available."

The company's also announced that it's developing a 7-inch dual-mode screen that'll hit mass production in the first half of 2011, with industry-ready samples arriving at the end of this year. And make no mistake, this is big news. Because the way the screens work means they're good at sunlight readability (E-ink's big plus) and low power consumption (for battery longevity), but they can also show full-color graphics and have a refresh rate that's good enough for video (a key strength of tablet PCs, like the iPad). Seven inches is also emerging as one of the sizes of choice for the coming tide of Android and Windows tablet PCs, and this means the genre may be the perfect way for Pixel Qi to really become the successful display system we all know it could be.

To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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