January 12, 2010

Mirasol shows reflective color 5.7 inch prototype display, coming to a Kindle near you?


I am really surprised to see this MEMs-based display technology in this size (5.7 inch diagonal), as I had written them off getting to these sizes due to the manufacturing processes required for MEMs....but delighted they have proven me wrong....or are about to. They even suggest they could make it in 9-inch or 10-inch diagonals.

It has a number of very interesting characteristics: 

  • fast switching speeds (video capable)
  • totally reflective and bi-stable (low-power)
  • low-power per image switch
  • COLOR!
  • 220 pixels-per-inch resolution (or 240ppi depending on who you listen to)
  • a good level of reflectivity (equates to brightness depending on ambient lighting)!

Qualcomm claims that this display can consume LESS energy than the Kindle's E-Ink display when used in the same way! Color for free (battery life wise) is something eReader manufacturers have been dreaming about!

They are correct about the power consumption that occurs in some other display technologies when you crank-up the refresh rate. You won't see those type of steep increases in power consumption as you increase refresh rates to display video on this display.

So it would be great to see this technology making it!

This is the kind of display technology that could remove the need for a Reading (static content) vs. Viewing-Computing (moving and video content) decision, and the Tablet vs. eReader dichotomy....and bring the convergence between those two categories of devices sooner than expected.

If you had a color, reflective device that can show a static page (e.g. the page of a book) as well as (say) E-Ink without consuming any power (i.e. it is bi-stable, and reflective like E-Ink) AND that is video capable (sonuming more power when doing video), why wouldn't you choose that over a grayscale E-Ink display??? Where is the trade-off?

A very nice video of it in operation is shown on the Engadget page from CES!
You can see highlight reflections of the glossy display (don't get me started on that.....) but apart from that it looks great! Partner it with a Tegra graphics chipset and a low-power processor and OS combination as we've seen in some other (LCD-screened) tablets and we could have a great little device here.

Engadget speculates on it becoming part of a future (color) Kindle...
Judging by the videos (see below also) this could be the "National Geographic" device, able to do justice to high-quality glossy magazine content.

We are lacking technical specs and resolution, but it looks great....so I can only hope that manufacturing progresses well and they are able to get this into devices in the fall (autumn) of 2010!

As the video is short and we just want to enjoy seeing that screen, here is a raft of other Engadget stories about it:

  • Game Playing variant? with another video, from SlashGear this time here, showing a smaller size but some fast moving images.
  • Another Engadget article (source a SlashGear article) with a different (Kindle likeness anyone) eReader design
  • Display Video from Engadget captured in HD resolution. Chose the "HD" option in YouTube, hit "Pause" and let it download (buffer) the entire video, then hit "Play" and the "Fullscreen" button on the YouTube window and enjoy it.

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