Pixel Qi is readying a do-it-yourself kit that will allow users to swap out their netbook's existing LCD screen with one from the startup. The 3qi display can not only switch between an efficient e-ink-esque grayscale mode and a high resolution color screen, but also to a hybrid transflective mode, which keeps the full color display but lets the mirror at the back of the screen use sunlight as the backlight for outdoor use.
The company says its LCD screens consume between half and a quarter as much power as a standard screen. This could mean a significant boost in battery life for your netbook -- naturally, at the cost of invalidating the machine's warranty. Writing on her Pixel Qi blog, company founder Mary Lou Jepsen said the whole process is just "slightly more difficult than changing a light bulb." Basically it involves removing six screws, pulling off a bezel, disconnecting the old screen and swapping it with the new one.
The kits should be available by the end of June, with the first product being a 10.1-inch display. Pricing isn't known yet but it will have to be low enough to make it tempting. The tech is undoubtedly clever. However, not everyone will be comfortable performing the upgrade themselves and voiding the warranty at the same time. It seems Pixel Qi is having a hard time breaking into the supplier chain between screen makers and PC manufacturers.