Power-Saving Pixel Qi LCDs Ready To Ship

You may have never heard of Pixel Qi, but we'll wager that you've heard of One Laptop Per Child. Mary Lou Jepsen, the company's founder and CEO, left OLPC in 2007 in order to focus on creating her own $75 laptop using technologies she invented at OLPC. Needless to say, the departure was quite controversial in its day, but now the company has moved on to focusing specifically on creating low-power displays.

Just days ago, the outfit admitted that it was ready to "soon start shipping" low-power screens that increase notebook battery life by up to 50 percent. The screens are modified LCDs, which are designed to "absorb natural light sources to brighten the display." This tactic enables it to rely less heavily on a battery-sucking backlight, and thus, it saves energy in the machine which it is install in. Jepsen was quoted as saying that "in
stead of cranking up the backlight to fight sunlight or the light of the office overhead fluorescent tubes, we realized we could use the brilliant ambient light in the image itself, saving power."

We're told that the casual laptop user could see battery life leap from 3 hours to around 4.5 hours by utilizing a Pixel Qi screen instead of a traditional LCD, and Jepsen assures us that her screens provide "full color depth and refresh rates that are comparable to conventional laptop screens." Essentially, these displays pull in as much ambient light as possible in order to create visuals that are, well, visible, but it is noted that they may not be the most perfect fit when watching a DVD in a dimly lit room.

Originally, Jepsen had hoped that the Pixel Qi display would enable notebooks to last much, much longer -- on the order of 20 or 40 hours. To reach that goal, she says that she'll need motherboard manufacturers to make some tweaks, which she hopes to have done in the 2010 to 2011 time frame. Even still, we'll gladly take a 50 percent boost in battery life now, but we'll have to be extra careful about where we sit to watch our movies. Unfortunately, the report doesn't mention when, if ever, any laptop makers will begin adopting the Pixel Qi display into their machines, but we're hoping a few makers take a risk and offer it soon.