Earlier today, I was less than enthused with BenQ’s e-book entry, but Qualcomm rejuvenated my e-book excitement with this news from SlashGear — color e-book screens will ship in 2010. The chipmaker’s mirasol color display has the potential to shake up the e-book industry — and possibly others in the portable space — just as much as Pixel Qi’s, in my opinion. The magic behind mirasol is the inspiration, which comes from the wings of a butterfly. Mirasol displays reuse external, ambient light, so no backlighting is needed. The company won several awards in 2009 for its 0.9″ mirasol display, but now it’s ready for a bigger footprint — say hello to a 5.7″ mirasol screen.
This larger panel is color-capable and, like traditional eInk displays, requires power only when refreshing the view. SlashGear says the new panel is even capable of video playback, but at usable frame rates, you’ll understandably see a big hit to the battery life, Still, Qualcomm figures that a Kindle equipped with a color mirasol display could last for a full week on one charge. I’m topping off my Kindle’s battery every three weeks these days, but I’d make it weekly for a color display.
I’m also interested in this display technology from a phone and handheld perspective. From what I’ve seen so far, a mirasol display would look fantastic outdoors, which can’t be said about many other traditional screens. Using it for primary computing might not provide huge battery savings, but on a phone, the overall benefits might outweigh the cons. I’d even like to see it on a smartbook. Who’s getting ready to power those devices? Oh, that’s right… Qualcomm.