In September, Sharp told PCWorld of its plan to mass-produce "MEMS-IGZO" displays that marry its own IGZO tech with microelectromechanical magic from Pixtronix, a division of Qualcomm. These hybrid displays reportedly filter LED light using tiny, MEMS-based shutters that take only 100 microseconds to manipulate. The 7" screen Sharp demoed was "easy to see and read" in simulated sunlight, according to PCWorld, and it had a grayscale mode with lower power consumption.
At the time, Sharp said mass production was scheduled for 2017. However, that 7" demo unit has apparently spawned an actual product that will be available much sooner. Sharp has announced that it will start selling a 7" MEMS-IGZO tablet in the first half of 2015. The unnamed device promises a "High Brightness Mode to display vivid picture under sunlight and/or Grayscale/Monochrome Mode for low power consumption." It can also switch between modes automatically depending on the content being displayed.
Unfortunately, the screen has a middling 1280x800 resolution. There's no word on the color depth, viewing angles, or other stats. However, the Japanese press release includes a few graphics illustrating the multiple display modes and the structure of the MEMS-IGZO hybrid. (Google doesn't turn up any English ones.)
The tablet's dimensions, weight, and battery life are still to be determined. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC will provide the horsepower, though, and connectivity will include 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 3G, and LTE. Android 4.4 is listed as the OS.
Interestingly, the specifications also show IPX5/7 certification, which guarantees the tablet will survive being dunked under water and sprayed with jets. Too bad it probably won't wash up on U.S. shores; Sharp is targeting "Japan's B2B market." The hybrid display and waterproof body still sound like a nice combination for personal outdoor use, though.
Even if the MEMS-IGZO tablet never makes its way stateside, the display tech sounds intriguing. I hope Sharp can actually pull it off on a large scale. Mirasol, Qualcomm's other MEMS-based display technology, hasn't really lived up to the hype. It was supposed to be fit for tablets, but Mirasol has largely been limited to Qualcomm's Toq smartwatch. Thanks to SlashGear for the tip.