Snazzy color-capable screen to elbow aside E Ink? Mary Lou Jepsen’s new multiuse screen to be unveiled in May

image “A low-power black and white mode, an e-paper mode, and a high-resolution color LCD TV mode”—that’s what’s  a new screen from PixelQI will offer.

So reports CNET about the ten-incher due to be unveiled in May for netbooks and e-readers. Shipping will happen this summer if all goes as planned.

PixelQI, for those who don’t know, was started by Mary Lou Jepsen, the display whiz behind the One Laptop Per Child screen that is readable even in bright light.

An improved version of newest screen will show up in the XO-2, shown here, the successor to OLPC’s current XO-1.

“When we talked to her about the problems with e-readers, she predicted that LCD would overtake electrophoretic display—aka E-ink—by 2010,” says Gizmodo.

PixelQI says its screens can use existing LCD facilities and thus will be cheaper to crank out than E Ink.

Meanwhile here’s an enticing snippet from the PixelQI site:

Our first screens will be 10" diagonal screens for netbooks and ebook readers that will sample in Spring 2009 and ship in high volume in Summer 2009. These screens rival the best epaper displays on the market today but in addition have video refresh and fully saturated color. The epaper mode has 3 times the resolution of the color HDTV mode allowing for a high resolution reading experience without sacrifice to super color fidelity for graphics. In addition these screens can be used in sunlight. Look for them in the market in the second half of 2009.

Now here’s a question in a Kindle context. What if more-open e-readers, using PixelQI technology, can take business away from the Kindle? Would that reduce Amazon’s leverage over the market and weaken the ties between its hardware/software and and now-Amazon-exclusive content?

Amazon ramifications?

Significantly, a good video refresh rate could make it easier for e-books to include annotations generated on portable machines. Amazon in many ways is pretty clueful about the social aspects of e-books. So you never know. Maybe a PixelQI-Amazon deal after all? But will Mary Lou perhaps think about conditions, such as Amazon’s using a more open approach? EPub, Jeff? In return for a ten-inch K2 ahead of time?

Just to emphasize: This is what I’m hoping Mary Lou Jepsen will do with Amazon if it’s among her prospects. I do not mean she will definitely try to or be able to impose the above conditions. Interestingly, however, even OLPC has relied on Amazon for distribution for its Give One Get One program. So you never know (even though Mary Lou is no longer OLPC’s CTO).

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About David Rothman (6820 Articles)
David Rothman is the founder and publisher of the TeleRead e-book site and cofounder of He is also author of The Solomon Scandals novel and six tech-related books on topics ranging from the Internet to laptops. Passionate on digital divide issues, he is now pushing for the creation of a national digital library endowment.

5 Comments on Snazzy color-capable screen to elbow aside E Ink? Mary Lou Jepsen’s new multiuse screen to be unveiled in May

  1. Maybe a PixelQI-Amazon deal after all?

    Please! Do not make me vomit! That is the most disgusting thing I have heard in years. It is like Luke Skywalker being contracted to work for the Empire as a hitman.

    As for PixelQi replacing the Kindle, I seriously hope so. However, I am not holding my breath. Amazon is a marketing behemoth, and the Kindle’s other DRM system, the cellphone link to their store, uses convenience to enslave users and prevent competition.

  2. Hey, LuYu, I doubt that Amazon is about to go out of business tomorrow. We at least can try for openness there. And Mary Lou’d tech could be a wedge.

    On another front, I continue to suggest that anti-trust-related officials give Amazon a close look. Same for the FTC in regard to DRM exposure. I totally agree with with your belief that consumer convenience, Amazon-style, can come at the expense of competition.

    But let’s give Amazon its due. I’m not against its existence, just against its current practices. If Mary Lou can change them, so much the better.


  3. Hi, David. I’m sure Amazon doesn’t care what the technology is, so long as it doesn’t kill the battery life. They just want to make the Kindle great, and if the PixelQi screen is the way to do that, they will.

  4. Yep, Bill, I agree—especially since PixelQi tech could probably lower Amazon’s costs. I’m just curious if Mary Lou will try to nudge ’em toward more openness. Thanks. David

  5. The math of this is astounding, if we take the numbers at face value. A ten-inch-diagonal screen is six by eight. HDTV is at least 1280×720, but that’s 16:9. If we assume the 720 applies, in 4:3 that’s 960×720. Three times that is 2880×2160 in epaper mode. That’s 360 pixels per inch, more than double other readers’ sharpness, if we trust what’s being said. OLPC screens are 200 ppi, so that’s quite an improvement.

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