E-ink displays are great. They can be used in direct sunlight, and they're as easy on the eyes as real paper. Unfortunately, they're also usually black and white, and they refresh far too slowly for anything besides basic e-reading.
Qualcomm's Mirasol technology doesn't have those disadvantages. We've been awaiting its arrival in real products since 2010, and now, it looks like the technology may finally be ready for prime time. Engadget came across a couple of Mirasol demos at the SID Display Week event in Vancouver, and it says Qualcomm expects a 1.5-inch Mirasol display will "soon show up in some third-party devices."
The 1.5" screen was demoed on a smart watch, which seems like a great application for the technology. Mirasol doesn't require a backlight, so it consumes much less power than an LCD, yet it's meant to be speedy enough for video playback. The downside is that the screen wouldn't be easily readable in the dark—but I assume that can be remedied by an LED front light, which you could turn on when needed.
That's not all Qualcomm has up its sleeve. Engadget says the company also demoed a next-gen Mirasol display with a 5.1" panel size and an impressive 2560x1440 resolution. Total PPI count: 577. Unfortunately, it looks like that screen won't pop up in real products anytime soon. Engadget says it still has to spend a "few more years in the R&D phase" before hitting mass production.