The quest for a daylight-readable laptop continues apace. At least, that’s what Wired says in an article about the state of laptop displays and why nobody makes a matte-finish screen anymore. Apparently it costs a lot and is prone to damage. The best you can do these days is to get a sheet of glare-reducing film that goes over the screen, like a screen protector on a phone or tablet. Meanwhile, smartphones and tablets are all right with reflective displays because people can just shade them with their bodies, angle them for better viewing, and hold them closer to their faces.

But the future is full of newfangled technologies that should help: Quantum-dot displays that use a wider color gamut to boost contrast, slightly curved screens that eliminate reflections from the sides, and new anti-reflective screen coatings based on the properties of a moth’s eyes.

The odd thing is there’s not one mention of a pair of older technologies that were once thought to hold the key to daylight readability—Pixel Qi and Mirasol. But as I wrote in 2013, both technologies seem to have largely disappeared. The only traces you can find of Mirasol these days are a technology explanation on Qualcomm’s web site.

Meanwhile, Pixel Qi is out of business, but The Digital Reader reported in January 2015 that its technology has reverted to Pixel Qi’s original investor. It is now available via a former Pixel Qi staffer’s start-up, Tripuso, who is still selling 7” Pixel Qi replacement screens. Given that it hasn’t been possible to manufacture Pixel Qi screens on a large enough scale to launch consumer devices with them, it seems that they’re firmly ensconced in the aftermarket-replacement niche. Pixel Qi founder Mary Lou Jepsen has moved on from Google X, where she was involved with Project Loon, to Facebook’s VR company Oculus.

Of course, by this point it’s probably safe to say that any new glare-reducing/outdoor-visibility-enhancing technology will only see laptops as a secondary use. Any tech that can make LCD displays more visible outside will see its main use in smartphones and tablets, which at this point are considerably more widely-used than laptops. Still, it will be nice to see it happen sooner or later.


  1. Neither Pixel Qi nor mirasol (Qualcomm spells in with a lower-case “m”) did a good enough job of solving the problems they were originally intended to solve to compete with the entrenched technologies. However, mirasol has now found a design win in the Timex Ironman One GPS+ Watch, which benefits from mirasol’s best qualities and in which mirasol’s deficiencies are not very important.

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