Just a quick note to say the DIY kits from our distributor will be available towards the end of Q2. We will be announcing with them prior to distrbution. Thanks for your patience.
One of the reasons I’m personally committed to doing this goes back to my One Laptop per Child experience and girls in a poor rural part of Nigeria who helped us test the early beta-laptop builds. In their school they had slanted desks bolted to benches with 4-5 kids per desk/bench combo. When any kid fidgeted or bumped all the laptops would fall on the concrete floors. The laptops were designed to be rugged and didn’t break usually, but in this early build one of the cables to the touchpad/keyboard was 1mm too short and could become “unseated”. This meant the keyboard and the touchpad would no longer work unless something was done.
Luckily: An 11 year old girl decided to open a laptop hospital. Unfortunately the boys really missed out here, because in this part of Nigeria “everyone knows” only girls work at hospitals, she eventually recruited girls as young as 5 to help out in the hospital. This group of girls armed with screwdrivers starting taking apart the laptops and reseating the cables. Sometimes they’d change out a screen, or a speaker. They learned about the hardware of their laptops. They got to see what was inside. They got better and better at fixing things by learning as they went.
Ministers of Education had a tough time believing that these girls could fix the hardware, so they would visit – to see it with their own eyes – and start thinking differently about maintenance of hardware. We kept preaching that ownership was the best way to assure maintenance.
Yet, most people are scared to change their laptop screen. It’s only slightly more difficult than changing a lightbuld: it’s basically 6 screws, pulling off a bezel, unconnecting the old screen and plugging this one in. That’s it. It’s a 5 minute operation.
CES went very well and we have more business because of it. Pixel Qi-ers are working hard at scaling more product more quickly. As we have said before, we have started production and are mostly working through the pilot builds with a variety of device makers right now. You will see our screens in a range of devices in stores soon, but sadly I can’t say with who and when due to non-disclosure agreements.
Additionally: There is major consolidation of the LCD industry underway right now and the ramp for new products are sometimes getting slowed down – not us so much – but we do see other projects slowing down dramatically. We are concerned because this slows innovation in our field and keeps it commodity based (and very predictable) during the consolidation – easier for the bankers, but worse for the people wanting innovative screens.
Meanwhile: I got news from IEEE/EETimes that the Pixel Qi screen has been nominated for an award: “the most creative electronics design of the year”. We are completely amazed by this, delighted that IEEE and EETimes are watching us and most honored to be nominated.
- Mary Lou
Photographs of screens really don’t do them justice, one needs to see them directly. Our screens will be around CES next week (we can’t say where – our customers the device makers are using them in their products and will reveal as they decide ). Yet, many members of the press have contacted us asking about this, and we have decided to try to help.
We will open our suite in the Venetian to the press from 7-9AM on Friday January 8th to show you our latest screens. If you are a member of the press and would like to see these screens please rsvp with Courtney Wang (email@example.com).
We regret that we are unable to host the general public at this time, but we will make an announcement on how the public can get our screens soon.
- Mary Lou
Our first production batch of screens will be ready shortly. We will be ramping production scale over Q1 2010.
We can now announce that the first units are going into specialized tablet devices with multi-touch. Increasingly these screens will be super-slim, but some customers prefer the standard thickness.
During Q1 2010 we will make every attempt to allow a small number of our screens to be available to the DIY community. If possible please hold your individual requests until we post information on how to do this. We do hear you, but we are flat-out starting production this month. Individual requests will not be answered until we post information on how to do DIY orders.
Pixel Qi will be at CES in Las Vegas in early January supporting our customers. We can’t yet announce with whom we will be showing but hope to shortly.
By Popular Demand: more side by side comparisons of Pixel Qi screens compared with standard glare-type (e.g. shiny) and anti-glare (e.g. matte) screens. Included are another outdoor picture, a side-by-side kindle comparison, and so forth.
The picture above demonstrates how the Pixel Qi screen looks compared to other standard laptop screens. In the case of the Pixel Qi screen the office lighting adds to the image, in the case of the other screens (glare and anti-glare type) the room light makes it hard to see the screen.
I’ve read some news about how tablet projects are late because they are waiting on Pixel Qi. I don’t usually respond to the articles that take a different view of us than we ourselves do – but in this case I just want to clarify a fact:
We aren’t late!
We are starting production on schedule at the end of year and ramping up volumes in early next year… We are very proud of our ability to create a great new product-line over the last year amid the collapse of many banks and dry up of venture capital (this while we were seeking and gaining our first funding round) and in the subsequent quarters, while we were developing our new product-line, we weathered the great uncertainties of the LCD manufacturers: who faced bankruptcy and underwent massive restructuring to survive. Believe me, we were far from a priority with our manufacturing partners given these conditions.
Now the publishing industry seems poised on a major transition , and we appear to be the only screen entering mass production designed for reading that offers color, video, longer battery life and works as-is with existing software stacks (from OS to viewers) and in any lighting condition including the pitch black and outside in direct sunlight and integrates easily with touchscreens. It’s fun work – and we are hiring more and more to address the great demand for our products. Consider to join us!
It seems a comment that I made at the Magazine Innovation Summit in NYC this week should be clarified:
While we are supplying screens for tablets (and ebooks, and netbooks too!) and are starting production shortly, including supplying limited volumes earlier than our official mass production start – we can’t say when these products will be announced and sold retail.
Sorry not to be able to reveal more, but our customers: the netbook, ebook and tablet makers really need to announce their products on their schedules.
New Subject – Battery Life Standards
While I have you I wonder how you all feel about MobileMark? This is the standard that sets battery life measurements with screen turned down to 27% brightness or 60 nits (max brightness is usually 220 nits). A nit is a unit of brightness. This from the latin “nitare” which means “to shine”, as opposed to the German origin of the more common use of the word nit – from the egg of a parasitic insect, usually a louse.
In office lighting, a piece of paper that reflects 60 nits is quite readable. Our screens with good office lighting also reflect 60 nits or more – I measured 120 nits in our offices on Friday. This with the backlight off. The exact reflectance measurement depends very much on the room lighting.
A normal LCD screen is “washed-out” by the office lighting since it can’t use the room lighting to show the image. The backlight is what creates the brightness (nits) on a normal LCD screen. For traditional transmissive LCDs, the backlight has to be cranked up higher because it competes with the room lighting. So it’s hard to see a normal LCD screen at 60 nits of brightness because 60 or more nits of office lighting can also be reflecting off it, competing with the LCD’s own image, often obliterating the screen image viewability completely. This is mostly true for matte reflection screens. There are also “glare-type” screens. These screens look shiny. The user sees their own reflection in them – no matter how beautiful you are this can be a problem: It’s distracting and hard to read because of all the reflections that complete for attention with the screen image.
Back to battery life measurement standards:
MobileMark seems to (according to our laptop-making customers) require that we also crank the backlight up for the power measurements to the same level as other screens that aren’t reflective and in fact are hard to read even at 60 nits backlit brightness in roomlight – this even though with no backlight the Pixel Qi screen can exceed 60 nits of brightness without any “wash-out” or annoying glare.
Does this make sense?
- Mary Lou
We just posted two more job descriptions at www.pixelqi.com. If you are interested or know anyone interested in either of the following positions, please contact Casey Hsu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
* Executive Vice President Pixel Qi Taiwan (Taipei)
* Vice President of Display Engineering (Taipei or San Francisco)
- Mary Lou