By far the biggest problem I have with the current crop of laptops and ultraportable notebooks is that their screens become all but useless when taken outside. You might be able to read them out on a dark, dreary day, but get in any kind of sunlight, and you’ll probably spend most of your time squinting and using your hand to shade the display. And that’s with the screen cranked to full brightness, which chews through your battery life.
Enterprising hobbyists with 10.1" netbooks now have an alternative: a DIY display kit from Pixel Qi. For those unfamiliar with Pixel Qi, here’s the skinny on the company’s display tech directly from its website:
Like standard backlit LCD displays, Pixel Qi displays renders quality full-color images, full-motion video, and high screen brightness. However, in environments with high ambient light levels, the 3Qi’s reflective mode contributes to the image, allowing the backlight to be turned down or off. This unique capability delivers significant power savings, an attractive screen and a comfortable reading experience, with very high resolution. Outdoors, Pixel Qi’s Transflective 2.0 technology comes into play – each pixel is mainly reflective, but has about the same transmissive efficiency as a standard LCD, enabling the user to experience a crisp image with excellent contrast and *brightness* in any light. This highly "green" LCD consumes 80 percent less power in reflective mode, yet delivers a better contrast ratio and equivalent reflectance typical of the best electrophoretic displays.
The display will cost you $275, which is nearly as much as an entire netbook. Pixel Qi will only confirm compatibility with Lenovo S10-2 and Samsung N130 at the moment, although the company says it’s testing other models. With the supported laptops, a screen swap is said to take only 5-10 minutes. Make has posted a video of the process, which indeed looks pretty straightforward, and they don’t even use one of the recommended laptops.
Suddenly, my old Eee PC 1000HA has become a lot more interesting.