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Display Wars: Pixel QI Improves its Tech, E-ink Teases its Future E-Reader Screens


Apple's IPS LCD display tech may be the bees knees of current tablet screens, but there're rivals out there, such as the Kindle's e-ink system. There's also Pixel Qi, which is a daylight-viewable LCD alternative — and it's just got lots better. 

The folks at Liliputing had a peek at some example hardware with the new Qi screens at Computex and learned that the scientists in white coats have been busy refining the technology. Pixel Qi is almost a halfway house between e-ink's excellent daylight viewing skills (but slow update rate) and the quick, high-contrast displays possible with liquid crystal systems (that suffer in direct sunlight). Qi's strength is that it's both sunlight readable when in low-power "high contrast mode," also making it a good e-reader display, and fast and contrasty and bright when in backlit LCD mode. 

Now it's been improved so that the viewing angle, which was one of the system's achilles heels, is much more acceptable—as the video demonstrates.

Liliputing is right to note that the one shame about Qi tech is that there's no consumer devices on sale that utilize it yet, despite its promise, whereas many e-readers use electrophoretic e-ink systems and many more use conventional LCD. And with the rise of e-ink based e-readers, Pixel Qi may need to work fast to capture much market share.

E-ink also demonstrated updated technology at the recent SID conference, including color displays and screens that were brighter with higher contrast and more flexibility. But given that E-ink's biggest customer's CEO Jeff Bezos was just on record as saying color e-ink displays were still "some way off" from being consumer-ready, maybe Pixel Qi has some breathing space. Given that the tech just picked up the "Display of the Year" award at the SID conference, this may be doubly true. And since Nicolas Negroponte just confirmed that the exotic-looking next-gen "one laptop per child" XO PC is going to have a "dual-mode" display that's "more important" than its other features, we may be trlplley sure that Pixel Qi is a technology you'll be hearing more and more about.

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