So I Have a Pixel Qi Netbook…

My "new" netbook from Sol Computers arrived yesterday, and I'm still working out the effect this screen will have on the market. Pixel Qi had a 10" screen on the market in 2010 which means we should have seen it on devices by mid 2011, but there have only been a small handful of devices released with Pixel Qi screens. (The highest profile device, the Notion Ink Adam, is no longer offered with a Pixel Qi screen anymore.) The thing is, I seriously doubt that there any major manufacturer wants to invest in a screen that cost more than the rest of the BOM, combined.

But first let me talk about my netbook.

Sol Computers has been selling this device since September 2011 as an aftermarket mod of a Samsung N150 netbook. Mine is a refurb that was originally produced in April 2010. I'm pointing out the device condition and model because I checked and you can get a similar refurb for $250 on Amazon. I  paid $750, which means the screen+installation cost $500.

See, this is why I think these screens have a better chance on high end laptops. 2/3 the cost of my netbook went to the screen, while on a laptop which cost $1,500 or the ratio would be a lot smaller and price bump wouldn't sting quite so much.

TradeOffs

So what did I get for my money? Well, I can take the netbook outside and use it, which I cannot do with my laptop.  I can also turn off the back light and enter a low power grayscale mode.

That last isn't as useful as you might think. While Pixel Qi was working perfecting a low power screen, everyone else was improving the battery life of tablet, laptops, and other gadgets. There are a number of laptops now with 12+ hours of battery life, and that span is getting longer.

In exchange for the low power mode and the option of using the netbook outside, the Pixel Qi screen loses a some small amount of screen quality. I hesitate to state that the difference is noticeable. I've been fiddling with the desktop color and screen quality of the netbook and I'm still not sure yet that there is a difference.

The thing is, my laptop is running a better version of Win7 so it has a lot more options for choosing a desktop theme (richer colors, for example). I'm still not sure whether the themes are affecting my impressions of the screens.

Stumped

In any case, price is going to remain a huge stumbling block for this screen tech. The price for just one of the 10" screens is almost as high as the entire parts cost for the New iPad.  The thought of what a 7" ereader would cost if it had one of these screens - yikes.

But that raises the obvious question: wouldn't mass production drive the cost down?

I don't know, but I plan to look into it when I go to SID Display Week in June. It's a screen tech conference, and that will be a good chance to pester Pixel Qi with questions.

About Nate Hoffelder (11371 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

7 Comments on So I Have a Pixel Qi Netbook…

  1. How does the contrast on the screen with the backlight turned off compare to the contrast of e-ink Pearl and Mirasol? How does the color contrast compare to Mirasol?

  2. duh!
    I bought the same samsung and pixel qi on ebay, takes no time, and very easy to replace the screen without knowledges. For a hell less money, it’s really a shame. They only try to take your money, and your soul, see “eyes desease” on their web site. Wow, that’s so cool.
    And don’t forget its more than 100$ shipping for foreigners (its should be less than 35 for europe!!)

  3. Last week, after seeing PixelQi 10.1″ panels on ebay at 69,99€, I decided to give it a try. The panels arrived here (Germany) from China in record time, just 4 days. Today, I committed myself to open panel surgery on my Samsung N150. The bezel went off in a few minutes, then the original panel – different from some videos I found, there was an extra fixation for the original panel, two flanges screwed to the panel, but it came off quite easily. Removing the 40 pin LVDS plug let me discover that pulling only in one direction helps, the others are useless and potentially harmful for the screen. But off it went too.

    Now, let’s unpack the PixelQi screen. First discovery: No screw holes for those extra holders. OK, maybe neglectible.

    Next task – reposition the 40 pin plug. What is that? The socket on the new screen sits on the other side of the panel. arrrrggghhh. But it came worse.

    I put the new screen on top of the old one – it was about 10mm (2/5″) wider and 15mm (3/5″) higher than the original one. Generally I like to get more than what I paid for, but in this case…

    OK, this screen and the N150 won’t become a family. But at least I wanted to know if the screen works. So I figured out how to get that microscopic plug into its temporary home, switched the netbook on, and there was an image. Not as crisp as on the original screen, and due to the different aspect ration slightly distorted, but at least, it was there. I was not able, though, to dim or switch off the backlight, but that’s maybe because I don’t know yet exactly how to do that.
    As I plan anyway to build a separate monitor based on that screen and a separate VGA to LVDS converter (also to be found on ebay), reverting the N150 to its previous state, was not that frustrating, specially since it survived te intervention without scars, but it would have been nice, though. So, I ask myself where these ill-shaped panels come from, maybe the orginal parts for the Adam? I have three of those with the PixelQi, which indicates that it’s worth (all second hand, two occupied by my boys for their students’ work).

  4. Are you sure you are looking for a LVDS to VGA converter? Afaik, there are none. The other way might be more likely.

  5. Prateek Mukhija // 21 August, 2015 at 3:17 am // Reply

    Can anyone suggest me a good driver controller board for 10.1 ” pixel Qi display.I have bought the LCD and driver controller 3 months bck.But the screen started shaking for past some days.Its impossible to workwhile the images and text are shaking.I don’t know which part may be faulty,the LCD or my driver controller .Can anyone have suggestions ?Anybody who is using the screen for more than 6 months without any problems can tell me about their controller.

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