Pixel Qi to offer DIY swap-in screens for netbooks

By on March 8, 2010, 12:03 PM
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.

User Comments: 18

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poertner_1274 poertner_1274, secroF laicepS topShceT, said:

I applaud out of the box thinking like Pixel Qi has displayed here. It is these kinds of initiatives and thoughts that continue driving the industry.

Sometimes I wish other companies acted this way, and did things that weren't so mainstream.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They do have some good ideas! Will be curious to see some end user comparisons on these.

klpowell said:

This really is a great idea and I am sure that it is something that may not catch on with the consumer, but the netbook makers may take notice of what they are doing. I look for an aquistion of the company .... or a theft of their idea!

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is a great idea, in theory... But laptop and other equipment manufacturers tend to use weird and varied connections on their screens. Hopefully this will plug in as easily as they like to think it will. I, for one, have been looking forward to their screens - easy viewing in bright light environments, and a low-power epaper mode... Life is good.

Puiu Puiu said:

Although it's good step forward i don't think it will be very popular. What we need is something similar from all manufacturers (this is something that most of us agree on).

This is a market that can make some really good cash for them. Buying a new, better screen or replacing a faulty one needs to be done in a more user friendly manner.

Serag said:

Amazing idea and I like the idea of outdoor visibility under sunlight,

But I highly doubt that the procedure of changing would be unified and the same as different netbook brands uses different methods and wiring for hooking up the LCD's.

DryIce said:

Great idea. This is the kind of idea that puts an unknown company on the map.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The idea of using sunlight as a backlight is a great idea indeed - saves battery life and can display things in direct sunlight. Hopefully these innovations will come in laptops as standard in the future as I'm not sure many people will be keen on shelling out more money on a new screen while also vioding their warranty.

pgbsamurai said:

Depending the price I might be interested in upgrading my netbook screen. However, I think that the number of people that are going to be interested in this product is going to be pretty limited. Hopefully we will start seeing some manufacturers picking these displays up and integrating them into their products.

Riun355 said:

I'm not sure that the users as a whole are ready for a DIY laptop, but the idea's great. Definitely something I'd look into If I didn't have a mac.

Renegeek said:

If this is going to happen, i hope the incorporate an external VGA hookup and mouse and keyboard, for home use, to display all colors... that would be nice.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I trully love this idea and have been following since I heard of it. This would make netbooks much more battery friendly than they already are!

mrtraver said:

Hmm, i might have to pick up a netbook on ebay or craigslist and give this a try!

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm waiting to see what the price will be, but this certainly makes the idea of buying a netbook and modding it tempting.

fref said:

Each notebook disassembles differently, and the instructions for disassembly aren't always easy to find. I don't understand how they can say that you have six screews to unscreew, it depends on which model you have. I had to replace the keyboard on my previous laptop and it was a real pain without the disassembly instructions. So unfortunately, I just don't see this working for them...

levar said:

Wow! they say its a 5 minute operation wish all laptop screens where this easy to put together but this saves a lot of money if you're brave enough of course to do it yourself, than a technician or you can just ask your 5 year old daughter :p that's if you have one of course lol. Pretty sure you'll be able to find video on youtube no doubt about that.

rskapadia2294 said:

Wow! will b eagerly waitin abt its prices! damn sure to try it once!

Yoda8232 said:

Wow that's a great idea, get some good instructions and people will be all over this. Hopefully the price is right.

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