Pixel Qi had a 10″ screenwhich 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.
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.
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.