It was almost two years ago that Pixel Qi founder Mary Lou Jepsen promised a mainstream device (a tablet or netbook, etc.) with the company's unique transflective 3Qi display. (The screen, for those who don't know, provides the best of both worlds: there are full-color graphics in normal LCD mode, but the ability to turn off the backlight allows it to morph into a grayscale-like, outdoor-readable display.) Obviously, that promise has yet to bear fruit -- we wouldn't really consider the Notion Ink Adam or the Clover Sunbook mainstream -- but, according to Pixel Qi, a large investment by display manufacturer 3M is going to change all that. While neither 3M nor Pixel Qi are divulging the amount of the investment or any real details on the partnership, Jepsen maintains that it is enough to help bring "Pixel Qi screens to widespread mass adoption."

According to Jepsen, Pixel Qi has been manufacturing its 10-inch display in multiple fabs, but "the business conditions in the display industry have been tough over the last three years." As she has said before, a large part of that has to do with the iPad, the tight supply chain it has caused, and the impact of the recession on ODMs and fabs. Still, she feels that the 3M partnership will turn the tide: “It changes the game for Pixel Qi in putting one of the industry powerhouses behind our innovation and we believe that this is absolutely key to be able to ramp our production." Of course, history still has us a bit skeptical about that statement, but you can bet that we're still holding out for a mainstream tablet with an outdoor readable LCD -- even if it comes a few years after Jepsen's original promise.