trimble_yuma_2_front_400.304144742_stdA co-worker at my day job recently mentioned wondering what had happened to Mirasol displays—though in retrospect, I think he got his brand names mixed up. He was talking about the displays you could purchase to replace netbook screens with, and that was Pixel Qi, not Mirasol. But that got me curious, because as far as I recalled, it had been a while since I’d seen anything about either display technology in the news.

A quick check of items for Mirasol turned up some reports from the end of May of  this year, in which Qualcomm showed off some mockups and a prototype of a retina-quality next-generation Mirasol display at a trade show. The 5.1” panel offered 2,560 x 1440 resolution, 577 ppi, and a 6x power advantage over LCD and OLED displays (though, like e-ink, it will need an illumination source for reading in low-light conditions). But it will likely be a few more years before this display is ready for prime-time.

Pixel Qi seems to be more elusive, however. It’s still around, but I didn’t see any recent news about it in Google, though its homepage says it was at the same trade show as the Mirasol display. In 2012, Tin Can Tools had a $299 Pixel Qi display kit available aimed at hobbyists using BeagleBoard or PandaBoard build-it-yourself embedded hardware, but it’s out of stock right now. Maker Shed still has the 10” Pixel Qi replacement display panel for select netbooks available, listed at $275 but on sale for $250 when I looked. The article about the display kit noted that “Pixel Qi displays aren’t produced in large enough quantities to compete with standard LCD screens on price—which is part of the reason you don’t see the company’s screens in many mainstream laptops or tablets.” That makes sense.

The most recent post in Pixel Qi founder Mary Lou Jepsen’s blog is an entry dated October 30, 2012, announcing that the Trimble Yuma 2 ruggedized outdoor tablet would ship with a Pixel Qi screen. The Trimble store lists the 64GB version at $2,995 ($3,345 with GSM/CDMA cellular Internet) or the 128GB version at $3,295. Tantalizingly, the Pixel Qi blog suggests more devices would be announced in coming weeks, but that was the last post in the blog. (Jepsen’s Twitter is still active, but largely with matters concerning her other job, with Google Labs; her most recent tweet is over Google’s Project Loon Internet balloon initiative.)

An earlier post lists a number of other products carrying the screens, including the $749-and-up dual core Atom Clover Sunbook, some tablets (most of whose links led to 404 or domain-name-squatter pages when I checked them), and various non-tablet devices such as a car wash control or a golf stroke training system. Perhaps the best-known Pixel Qi-using product apart from One Laptop Per Child was the Notion Ink Adam, which ended up being something of a disappointment on its release. Notion Ink is cranking out a second tablet, but has opted to go without the Pixel Qi display this time.

There do not seem to be any more recently-announced products using the displays than the Yuma. Perhaps not a surprise if the displays can’t be produced in the numbers LCDs can. Most of the products Pixel Qi has seem to be specialty devices meant for niche markets, rather than more general-purpose tablets that would be expected to sell in large numbers. For that matter, there don’t seem to be that many Mirasol products right now, either. But then, it took a while for e-ink displays to start being in bulk after they were introduced, too.


  1. mary lou jepson left pixel qi and is now working for google, i actually got some huge news about pixel qi today from a few developers in turkey and eastern europe. doing a post on it now. Pixel qi basically abandoned commercial goods and is now focusing on government, military and cilvil service. the guy im talking to makes UAV and Drones and uses Pixel Qi screens for the controllers, writing on this now, if your interested.

  2. Thanks for the article!
    I have just behind me an odyssee searching for Pixel-Qi devices in the internet and following lots of dead links from/to pixel qi and never leading anywhere. So I am glad that someone summarized the situation.
    I have myself a Samsung Q35 (from 2006) which has the possibility to switch-off its background light. Already at the beginning, I realized that in the sunlight – at least in a certain angle and in a polarized light (like evening), I could still read the screen (although it was an ordinary lcd-screen). Shortly after, indeed the first transflective screens appeared (using precisely this effect, but strangely not for Samsung at first) and finally it got optimized by Pixel Qi.
    I was always very excited about it, but wanted to wait a little bit, until it gets optimized. And now – it’s just gone!! 🙁 (at least almost). It’s a shame! I had in mind to completely replace my old laptop by a full-fledged laptop for everything (ideally convertible to a tablet) with a pixel-qi screen whose performance should at least be a bit better than my old one’s. And I found that the Pixel-Qi-Screen with the biggest resolution is 1280×800, which is exactly the same as my old (though 10.1inch instead of 12 in my old). I found this screen only from one ebay-seller from Hong-Kong, with not many screens left, so I panicked and ordered one, without knowing what to do with it in the end 😀 . So now I have this great screen (if it’s not fake) and tried to connect it to my old laptop, but the svcd-connectors did not match. The vendor did not provide any information about which laptop could possibly fit (nor did Pixel Qi). Searching for similar screens, I found that the Acer Iconia A200 tablet seems to have a very similar screen and that there it seems to be possible to seperately get the touch-functionality (as mine is not a touch-screen). At least I’ve seen on ebay a “Acer Iconia Tab A200 Touch Screen Digitizer Glass Panel”. A tablet is not exactly what I was looking for, but now I am wondering if this is an option (the only one?) for my screen. Maybe somebody reading this has some information about this? Sorry for the long post!

  3. Resurrecting this thread from the grave…

    Adafruit have the Pixel Qi 10″ (1024×600) in stock with controller board for use with, well, anything with an HDMI, VGA or NTSC/PAL output, at the time of writing they had 37 in stock

    Incomparable value when used as field field monitor for photography/videography. True sunlight readability for less than $200…

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail