Low-power Pixel Qi displays sell out in a day

The 3Qi screens absorb sunlight to help extend give netbooks longer battery life

The highly anticipated low-power 3Qi laptop displays from Pixel Qi were sold out on Thursday, just a day after the screens were officially announced and went on sale.

The 3Qi LCD (liquid crystal display) screens, which were under development for two years, can absorb ambient light to brighten screens and reduce power consumption to extend the battery life of laptops. The displays reduce the need for the backlight, which are used to light up conventional laptop screens.

Pixel Qi made initial 10.1-inches screens available for netbook-type devices, mostly targeted at the do-it-yourself community, according to the company. Priced at US$275, the screens have sold out, but are now available for pre-order on Maker Shed's retail Web site.

More displays will be shipped by the middle of next week, according to the Web site.

The 3Qi displays are able to operate in a mode to view full-motion video, and also switch to a reflective mode to take advantage of ambient light sources like sunlight, which could be used to read e-books. The company claims the screens consume 80 less power in reflective mode compared to conventional LCD screens.

Pixel Qi has said the screens have been tested to work with Samsung's N130 and Lenovo's S10-2 netbooks. and other netbooks are being tested. Beyond netbooks, Pixel Qi company in the past has said that the screens would be available for e-books and tablets. Consumer electronics company Notion Ink displayed its Adam tablet with a 3Qi display at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year.

Pixel Qi is run by Mary Lou Jepsen, who was formerly the chief technology officer at One Laptop Per Child. Jepsen led the effort of developing a low-power screen which is now being used in OLPC's XO laptops. She stirred up a controversy when she left the nonprofit in 2007 to start Pixel Qi with the goal to create laptops under $100 based on technologies she invented at OLPC. The company however has shifted focus to the development of low-power screens.

Pixel Qi in March signed a deal with OLPC to develop low-power multimode screens for future XO devices. OLPC plans to show its new XO-3 tablet, which will also function as an e-book reader, early next year.

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