Much-lauded display startup Pixel Qi spun off from the OLPC project promising advanced display technologies that handled both high-performance, full-color graphics like an LCD but were high contrast and sunlight-readable like an ereader display—and used just a fraction of the power of a traditional LCD. Although technology demos have been promising, nobody has been able to set hands on Pixel Qi displays…until now. Pixel Qi has finally made good on its promise to offer screen replacement kits for netbooks and systems with 10.1-inch displays. And although they cost about as much as a new netbook, they really do seem to be everything they promised. Kits are now available through Make Magazine for $275 specifically for the Samsung N130 and Lenovo S10-2 netbooks—although, of course, folks are free to try leveraging them into other systems, and PIxel Qi says they’re testing on other netbooks.
The Pixel Qi display works much like a standard backlit LCD display, except that each pixel also has a reflective capability, meaning that in conditions with large amounts of ambient light (e.g., outdoors) the display can present a high-contrast, highly readable display. Pixel Qi says the 3Qi uses about 80 percent less power in reflective mode while offering better contrast than the best eletrophoretic displays along with about the same reflectivity.
Of course, Pixel Qi isn’t installing these screens in people’s notebooks for them: this is strictly a DIY operation left up to the buyer…or the buyer’s tech-comfy friends. PIxel Qi describes the screen replacement process as taking about five minutes—but we suspect that’s for people who are comfortable ripping apart their electronics and have pulled screens many times before. However, the process only involves removing a handful of screws, unsnapping the screen’s front plastic bezel, and disconnecting a cable. Of course, installing the Pixel Qi display will likely void any warranty remaining on the netbook, so customers are advised to be fully informed before deciding to upgrade their display.