About ten years ago there was a startup called PixelQi that developed a combination between an LCD and an e-ink screen. When using such a screen in normal (low-light) conditions, you would not notice a big difference to a normal LCD screen. Only in bright light conditions (e.g. in direct sunlight) or if you turned down the LCD backlight, you could see the black-white e-ink.
I bought two of the prototypes and used them for a long time. They had two main advantages:
- You could turn down the LCD backlight to save battery. The e-ink screen only uses power when it changes its pixels.
- You could work in bright conditions. Issues like reflecting sunlight were not an issue anymore. You could also read the screen without any problem in direct sunlight (although the screen appeared black-white then).
I always expected this startup to be bought by a major player like Apple or Samsung, who would then integrate the technology into their hardware lineup.
However, this did not happen, and the startup ceased to exist some years ago. I would like to know if there are technological reasons for that:
- Does the technology bring any disadvantages that make it unfeasible for high-end laptops, tablets, phones and smartwatches, like for example making the screen too thick?
- Would the screens become too expensive, even if manufactured in high numbers?
Are there any other disadvantages of the technology that led to it being abandoned?