LCD, e-ink challenger Mirasol will be on devices in months

Mirasol displays will handle video and extend the battery life of devices, Qualcomm says

Most tablets and e-readers today use LCD or e-ink technology, but a new challenger that promises sharp color and reduced screen power consumption could be used in devices in a matter of months.

Qualcomm's Mirasol display technology, which has been under development for years, will be in full production and in devices by the middle of next year, said Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, during a webast investor meeting earlier this week.

The company is primarily focusing the screen technology on e-readers, but Mirasol displays have also been shown on tablets.

"We have partners who are really excited about the kind of capabilities that Mirasol brings -- the ultra low power, sunlight visibility, the fact that we can do video on these things. So the devices are coming out, we're feeling good about where we're headed," Jacobs said.

Displays are the biggest power hog on devices and Mirasol's low-power attribute is its biggest advantage, Jacobs said.

"If you have an Android phone ... you'll generally see it's the display that's using most of the battery. We have just got to deal with the issue," Jacobs said.

Tablets use backlit LCD screens, which can burn a lot of power, especially when displaying video. Qualcomm has said that a Mirasol display can provide more multimedia playback in a day on a single battery charge than an LCD.

An iPad 2 can provide up to 10 hours of surfing the Web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music. According to a study published by Pike Research last year, a device with a 5.7-inch Mirasol display can provide 9.9 hours of battery compared to 4.3 hours on a 6.1-inch fully backlit LCD screen.

LCD screens are used in some color e-readers such as Barnes & Noble's Nook Color, which also has some tablet features. But most e-readers such as Amazon's Kindle use grayscale e-ink screens, which are highly power efficient. Color e-paper is also under development for e-readers, and one screen that can display 4,096 colors is being used in an e-reader from Hanvon.

Mirasol is built around bouncing light of mirrors to display colors on the screen. Ambient light striking the surface is modulated and sent back to the screen to show effects in color and black and white. The screens absorb sunlight, unlike like LCD screens, which create glare in sunlight.

Qualcomm declined to provide further details on the color depth and resolution rate of the initial Mirasol screens. A Mirasol device playing video in color was demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show early this year, but the refresh rate seemed to lag.

But after years of display and a long wait, the screens are almost ready to roll out of a factory in Taiwan.

"We know you guys are waiting for devices, and devices are coming," Jacobs said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags smartphonestabletsqualcommhardware systemsconsumer electronicsdisplayse-readersComponents

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?