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DIY Pixel Qi Screens Available

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the and-it-fits-in-the-something-something dept.

Portables 60

16384 was one of a surprising number of DIY types to note that the Pixel Qi screen is out. It can be installed in many netbooks. Can't wait to see what people build with them. An excerpt from the press release says "MAKE and Pixel Qi announced today the availability of a revolutionary LCD display technology from Pixel Qi — the 3Qi display. This one-of-a-kind, plug-and-play 10.1-inch display offers two modes: an easy-to-read, real color, multi-media mode or a crisp, low-power e-reader mode. Indeed, the sunlight-ready e-reader mode makes it easy to use outdoors. The 3Qi display is on sale now at makershed.com."

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3? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32755630)

Why's it called 3Qi if it has two modes?

Re:3? (2, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32755648)

Because you ask three questions about it. You've already asked one...we're waiting.

Re:3? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32755744)

Ok, question two: What is your favorite color?

"Blue, no...

AHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhh..."

3Qi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32755752)

Rhymes with freaky deakie.

Expensive (2, Interesting)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 4 years ago | (#32755674)

I thought one of the advantages of the Pixel Qi screens were its low price, as it was initially targeted to the OLPC. This thing is $275.00 without an attached laptop behind it.

Is this because that's the retail price for the public at large, or are there some major differences with respect to the OLPC screen that justify the higher price?

Re:Expensive (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32755716)

Most likely, the price is so high due to a small production run.

Re:Expensive (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32755746)

The Pixel Qi screens are the evolutionary descendants of the OLCP ones, and might well have not traded off cost and quality quite as agressively; but I'm assuming that at least half of this price is the "It's a quantity-one sale of a previously unavailable item to a cost-insensitive enthusiast" premium.

The ruthless margin-slashers who do purchasing for the big OEMs are just going to give you a thousand-yard-stare and a hollow laugh if your quoted price is much above a standard LCD of the same size, so Pixel Qi are either utter morons, or offer much more reasonable terms in quantities of 10,000+

Plus, while the maker shed is a noble operation, and sometimes a useful place to get stuff that would be hard to find in small quantities elsewhere, they aren't what you would call an "everyday low prices" kind of operation...

Re:Expensive (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32757130)

For OEMs this is interesting but so dangerous.
Until they get some big product to use it they are very risky for a small company to buy.
You could design your product around the part only to be SOL when they go out of business. Molds are expensive.
I would so like to use one of these but until they are in mainstream production they are just too dangerous.
However for some one with a hacker spirit might I suggest that you combine this screen with this http://beagleboard.org/hardware-xM [beagleboard.org]
And go to town. Maybe find an old notebook and take the case and keyboard?
Or you could make yourself a Car computer or goodness knows what else.

Re:Expensive (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | about 4 years ago | (#32770348)

The Maker Shed is quite expensive compared with sourcing things elswhere

Re:Expensive (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32755748)

It may be expensive, but it blows the iPhone 4's shitty display out of the water. Now I just need a kick ass Linux netbook to install this into, and can then maintain my laughter when I sit opposite iPhone users on my daily commute.

Re:Expensive (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32755974)

Something called unit quantities. That's the retail price for a single screen. Buy 10,000 of them and the price will be substantially lower.

Re:Expensive (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756164)

I thought one of the advantages of the Pixel Qi screens were its low price, as it was initially targeted to the OLPC

They have a pretty picture [pixelqi.com] which explains the difference. Basically, the concept is the same, but the Pixel Qi displays have much better performance in trasflective and reflective modes (in terms of response times, anyway). The OLPC display is not really meant to be used for much beyond static text in reflective mode. The Pixel Qi displays are for more general use.

The advantage is not the price so much as the fact that you can use it while sitting outside in the sun, without having to squint.

Re:Expensive (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756560)

This is because they don't really care about the handful of DIYers who'll buy it, they're after the OEMs. Why devalue their product by seeling it at a realistic price when they can upmark it to silly levels like that other company ?

Re:Expensive (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#32759426)

Is this because that's the retail price for the public at large...?

Yes.

Resolution? (1)

fulhack (1273072) | more than 4 years ago | (#32755690)

What's the resolution on this thing?

Re:Resolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32755944)

I read TFA and went to makershed.com where you can buy one and neither mention the resolution. Is it 320x256 or something?

BTW, does anyone know what Knuth's earth-shattering announcement was? Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] claims it was a shit joke.

Re:Resolution? (2, Informative)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756076)

If it's like the OLPC screen, that's a semi-difficult question. It depends on the colors in the image you are displaying, and the lighting you are viewing it under.

The OLPC's screen, in pure black-and-white mode while front-lit, has basically four times the resolution it does when in back-lit full-color mode.

Re:Resolution? (2, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756486)

OK, so then allow me to rephrase the question:

What are the resolutions on this thing?

Re:Resolution? (4, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#32757244)

It is not that difficult to answer for the OLPC. The resolution of the OLPC display is 1200x900. However the difference is that unlike a normal LCD it doesn't have a RGB triplet for each pixels, but only one of R, G or B per pixel. So to display a color you need multiple pixels, instead of one. However this doesn't mean that the resolution will be lower in color mode, it will simply look more blurry, the framebuffer stays 1200x900 the whole time.

What the OLPC does is pretty similar to what you see with subpixel rendering with fonts, it just does it the other way around. So instead of gaining resolution in displaying black&white, it loses resolution when doing color rendering. But it is just blurriness, its not like you switch from 1200x900 to a crystal clear 600x450 or something like that.

Re:Resolution? (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#32765270)

What's the resolution on this thing?

Took me a bit of googling, but I found this:

http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2010/1/10/pixel-qi-is-alive-at-ces.aspx [brightsideofnews.com]

"Ryan explained that Windows treats Pixel Qi’s 3qi display as a 1024 x 600 pixel screen, it’s actually a 3072 x 600 pixel screen. Those extra pixels help make the text easier to read if you’re using Roman, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Arabic, or a number of other languages. For Chinese, Pixel Qi is working on higher vertical and horizontal resolutions."

1024 x 600 is practically useless these days. How do they get the 3072 number though? Is that because each pixel technically contains an individual red, green, and blue sub-pixel?

Re:Resolution? (1)

jensen404 (717086) | about 4 years ago | (#32767998)

Yes. The colors are just a lot less saturated when not using a backlight.

Unfortunate... (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32755700)

It's such a pity that they never settled on a standardized physical connector for the LVDS+backlight power connection that virtually all laptop screens use(are there any internal displayport devices in the wild yet?) Electrically, they are usually much the same, at least within a given size class(obviously, the current required for a 17inch DTR LCD backlight is going to be a little bit higher than that needed for a 8 inch netbook LCD, so a diffferent connector might be needed); but there was no real standardization. For basic economic reasons, and the fact that there are fewer OEMs than there are brand names, there are a lot of identical connectors lurking out there if you take a screwdriver to the problem; but there is nothing resembling a proper, consumer accessible, "standard", on the order of DVI or molex...

Re:Unfortunate... (2, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32755874)

Even more annoyingly, many laptop display chipsets are locked to certain EDID strings, preventing you from swapping out displays whilly-nilly. I'd love to take a cheap laptop and swap in a 15" 2048x1536 LCD for the best e-reader in the world, but even if said laptop contained a chip that can drive a display that large (i.e. not something made by Intel) the chance is pretty high that swapping out any display other than one of the same model will result in no output at all.

Re:Unfortunate... (3, Interesting)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#32757514)

I've done exactly that recently... Well, okay, it was a laptop with a broken screen which I got gifted. Laptop had an XGA screen and I gambled and ordered a new SXGA+ screen of the same size. (That particular laptop was sold with both resolutions originally) It works, but really doesn't. There are several issues:
  • The EDID string: When I swapped the panel, the BIOS would complain that the panel wasn't supported: "F1 to resume, F2 for setup". I simply flashed the BIOS and that went away. I suspect the BIOS will accept anything from the panel when you reflash it while it's present in the laptop.
  • Before the BIOS flashing, the brightness did not work at all, making the screen very dim.
  • The cable connecting to the panel is important contrary to what I expected. While they look standard, they really aren't. The panel I have now does not display every other vertical line which gives a bit of a "vertically-interlaced" feeling. Up to 1024x768, the panel is usable (but the "interlacing" is visible). Anything above, is unusable. From my researches on the net, this seems to be that the flat cable between the graphics card and the panel misses some lines... Penny savings for the laptop manufacturer, but it stops you from upgrading.

All in all, upgrading a laptop panel is a big gamble than can backfire. I already spent 118€ for the panel (+shipping and handling) and 17€ on import taxes... That's a lot of money, and now I ordered a new cable which will surely jack up the price to at least another 25€ for the cable with shipping and handling (took the more expensive and slower "by post" shipping method, because DHL and UPS are both scammer that sur-tax you on import. They have a flat fee on top of the import tax... By postal services, low fees usually get waived. I've imported stuff from Japan for about the same price of the said panel and the import tax on that was waived... The difference being that it was sent by normal post... anyway, sorry for the rant).

It was an interesting experience, but I'm not sure if the laptop was worth 160€++ and many hours of my time. (Sure, it's a Core2Duo with 1GB RAM, but you can nearly get a new netbook for a bit more and less risk).

My advice thus: replacing a laptop panel, yes, but only with exactly the same resolution. Upgrading a laptop panel: no, not even if you have to fix it anyway in the first place.

Re:Unfortunate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32770184)

There are plenty of guys who have upgraded their laptop screens, precisely for the reason you did: to get a higher resolution than the crappy screens in today's laptops, let alone netbooks. You should be able to find step-by-step guides to making your own cable on google, although you're unlikely to find a guide for your exact model (unless it's a Thinkpad, there are plenty of tinkerers working on those).

Re:Unfortunate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32757304)

Actually: it does use a standard LVDS connector.

Well. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32755724)

Please note: These screens replace those found in the Samsung N130 & Lenovo S10-2. Although they do work in other models, we can only guarantee compatibility on those 2 specific netbooks. We are testing other models, and will update the list as needed.

These two netbooks rank in at about $300 new, $230 used. Even after the $275 screen, one could make a pretty cool netbook with it at a good price. If one was so inclined, they could also go vacuform or lasercut a custom plastic case and turn the thing into a really powerful dual-mode e-reader.

You out there Ben Heck? Get on it!

Re:Well. (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756008)

I think it would be cool to tinker with. I could possible justify the purchase since I could use the modified laptop in direct sunlight when I'm doing magnetometer calibrations.

But $275 places it out of my DIY price range and $575 total price places it in the same price range of the cadillac of tablet devices and I would still need to make a case (and add touch screen input).

Short on an important detail: resolution (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32755792)

10.1 inches, replaces screens on two netbook models (Samsung N130 & Lenovo S10-2), maybe more models (they're testing), nice full-sunlight low-power "e-reader" mode that would be *great* for outdoor work (check out the comparison shots [pixelqi.com] ), costs $275 USD, etc. But nowhere do they say what resolution the display is, which is a bit silly. I'm guessing 1280x800? Anyone know?

Re:Short on an important detail: resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32755954)

But nowhere do they say what resolution the display is, which is a bit silly. I'm guessing 1280x800? Anyone know?

The resolution of most netbook screens is 1024x600, so that's probably what this is.

Re:Short on an important detail: resolution (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756024)

I'd be surprised if it's any higher than your garden variety 10" netbook screen, 1024 x 600 or so.

Re:Short on an important detail: resolution (3, Informative)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756074)

I'm thinking around 1024 x 600 since that is the resolution of the two netbook models mentioned.

Of course it could be lower....

If can be installed in many netbooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32755834)

I don't know - you tell me!

Re:If can be installed in many netbooks? (1)

Cryolithic (563545) | more than 3 years ago | (#32758502)

many netbooks if can be installed!

How do you know if the connector is compatible? (2, Interesting)

nis (81721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32755986)

I have an asus 1005PE. How do I know whether the connector is compatible without taking my screen out?

Re:How do you know if the connector is compatible? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32756830)

I have an asus 1005PE. How do I know whether the connector is compatible without taking my screen out?

If I were you, I would probably:

1. Find out what type of motherboard is in my laptop (from asus' website). It will either be in a parts or service pdf. Or maybe find it from a retailer selling replacement parts.

2. If possible, who manufactures it

3. Find out the type of video connector on your motherboard

4. Do the same with the compatible models listed on the website.

It would probably take about 15-30 minutes to dig through the respective websites and to find the information you are looking for. A pdf or two will give you most of the info you need.

Bought one; the price is perfectly fine (4, Interesting)

davide marney (231845) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756080)

$275 for a DIY kit of a bleeding-edge technology is entirely reasonable. I've seen the OLPC 1 screen in action, and was very impressed; I'm sure this will be even better. For those wondering, the resolution is 1024x600; see <a href="http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/01/the-pixel-qi-display/">Up Close and Personal with the Pixel Qi Display</a>.

Re:Bought one; the price is perfectly fine (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756160)

Cool. Maybe you could post a review when you receive it. I'm interested and I'm sure others are too.

Re:Bought one; the price is perfectly fine (1)

gclef (96311) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756498)

Curiosity question: how do you interface to it with a DIY setup? (Ie, how do you control display mode, etc?) I'm thinking this would be a fun display to use to DIY a portable unit of some sort, but I can't find any instructions for using it other than for people who are replacing the display in an existing laptop.

Re:Bought one; the price is perfectly fine (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32758232)

I also wonder how you control the mode. I'm just not seeing anything that explains it. The Wired article just says "at the press of a button". WHICH BUTTON? One you add? Or some kind of software control?

Re:Bought one; the price is perfectly fine (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32758758)

There is no "mode control" as such. Basically, the way it works is that if the backlight is brighter than the ambient light falling on the screen, it is in the transmissive "mode"(which gives you lower resolution; but full color. If the ambient light is strong enough to wash out the backlight, or the backlight is off, you are in the "reflective" mode, which is much sharper; but B/W. At least in the version used in the OLPC, there are some intermediate states, where you get enough backlight for a hint of color; but the ambient light is strong enough that it looks sort of like a B/W image with pastel shading, rather than a full color image.

On any existing laptop, you "control the mode" with whatever mechanism you would ordinarily control the display backlight with. Turn the backlight down low enough, and you are "in reflective mode". Crank it up and you are "In transmissive mode"(unless you are in direct sunlight, in which you probably don't have a choice.

Any device designed with this display in mind would, in all likelyhood, give you slightly more "audio-like" backlight control(i.e. There would be the usual intensity control; but there would also be a discrete on/off toggle, so you could set your preferred indoor level, then hit just one button and save a whole lot of power while you are outside, then give the same button a tap to go back to your preferred level when you go back indoors). In any case, though, there is no magic "mode bit" that needs to be set, or special command, or pin that has to be toggled or anything. Purely a "however you would normally control the backlight" thing. The only real design difference is that, unlike a normal LCD, this thing can actually be useful with the backlight totally off, so you will probably want to incorporate a somewhat wider than usual range of brightnesses and/or an audio style "mute" button...

Gimmie in smaller form factors.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756152)

I want 2 of them in a 4" by 4" square. I have a digital dashboard project I am working on with some duinos and would kill for this kind of tech instead of the crappy TFT LCD's that are available in the surplus market.

Re:Gimmie in bigger form factors.... (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | about 4 years ago | (#32769150)

I want to use it instead of my x61's display.

still missing a piece (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756570)

This is something that could be very nice for a system I've been wanting to hack together, but which is based on a desktop machine, not a laptop. Anyone know of a way to drive this from a VGA or DVI signal?

Re:still missing a piece (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32758954)

This [systemation-inc.com] would probably work. It has the look of an industrial/specialty system, though, so it could easily double the cost of the project.

Also worthy of consideration, a fairly wide variety of mini-ITX and smaller motherboards, particularly those designed for industrial/kiosk/signage applications actually include LVDS headers right on the board. This is of no use to you if you absolutely need a standard desktop board, or a spiffy graphics card; but if your option is either "Spend 80-150 for a motherboard. Spend 200-400 for a specialty DVI to LVDS board because you are buying quantity 1, have it dangle awkwardly." or "Spend 200-400 for a motherboard with LDVS natively." the second starts to look pretty good...

If this sounds attractive, Logicsupply.com has a good range. They may or may not have the best price on a given board; but they have an excellent collection all in one place.

Re:still missing a piece (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#32761976)

It has to work with a specific system board (one with no expansion bus and only DVI out). Thanks for the pointer.

Re:still missing a piece (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32763222)

Yeah, you'll need a converter, then. The one I linked may or may not be your best shot; but it should be representative of the sort of thing you want.

Very interested... or was anyway (2, Insightful)

soupforare (542403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756590)

I was very interested when they made this announcement a year(+?) ago. Even contacted the company with some questions. The price is out of my league for my, basically toy, uses though. I hope it comes down a bit eventually.

Programmer's display (2, Interesting)

MSBob (307239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32756968)

I wasn't aware of this company or its technology. But to me this is something that programmers would really enjoy (and other workers stuck in front of an LCD for 8+ hours a day). They need to get the size and resolution much higher up though. I'd pay north of $900 for something like this but in a 23" format with a resolution of 1920x1200 or higher.

Re:Programmer's display (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32757674)

Sure, but you can bet that their next product will be aimed either at the 15" laptop market, or possibly at a ~7" tablet market if Apple decides to use such a display in an "iPad Mini".

Desktop displays are probably at least a couple of years into the future.

Just guessing.

Re:Programmer's display (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#32758474)

I expect these kind of screens to be available in a couple of years. Lets hope they finally *will* compete on resolution rather than size. Currently I'm going to settle for the HP ZR24w IPS screen. It's not perfect but it's the only 1200 line IPS screen that is reasonably priced.

Traditional DPI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32757292)

One of the largest selling points of eInk displays is the resolution.

Turning a standard resolution screen to a lower-power B&W mode does not an e-reader make.

Liquavista electrowetting screen (2, Informative)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32757794)

This screen (in different versions) should be available in a year or so (2nd half 2011):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6tzaIgZKs0 [youtube.com]

Link to working prototype demo - long video with lots of info:
- b&w & color options
- video
- dynamic refresh rate (power consumtion)
- high transmissive (up to 45 per cent more than LCD)
- transmissive, transflective and reflective options
- can be build using adapted LCD manufacturing equipment
- competitive in price with LCD technology (well, that's subjective, isn't it)

I wonder how they would compare.

Where is the datasheet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32758292)

It's somewhat difficult to use this product in any DIY project without it.

Mi8u5 3, Troll) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32760532)

BUWLA, oHr BSD KrEskin

Surprisingly similar to the OLPC? (0)

wmturner (1837460) | more than 3 years ago | (#32761242)

I find it interesting that the founder of Pixel Qi used to be the CTO (Chief Technical Officer) for the OLPC project. Maybe some patent trolling going on...

Is this a sign that Pixel Qi is failing (1)

kentsin (225902) | about 4 years ago | (#32767194)

No product use it? Why?

Re:Is this a sign that Pixel Qi is failing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32769884)

Notion ink does use it.

Re:Is this a sign that Pixel Qi is failing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32784250)

They've only just started manufacturing. If this hasn't changed in 6 months time, then ask that question.

Great, only 5x more expensive than a regular panel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32772392)

A regular 10.1" panel is 1/5th the price at quantities of 1. Anyone how has had to replace a netbook display or notebook display knows this.

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