Qualcomm's Mirasol reflective color display technology hasn't had the easiest time making it to market, but the company is out there showing off new prototypes nonetheless. At the SID Display Week event today, Qualcomm showed off three different prototype Mirasol display — a tiny, 1.5-inch model, a smartphone-sized 4.3-inch model with a 720p resolution, and an updated version of the 5.7-inch, 1024 x 768 display we saw last year.
The 1.5-inch model was particularly neat, especially given the recent fascination with all things smartwatch — the display is particularly well-suited for low-power output. Qualcomm's representative told us that you could "almost" leave the display on in perpetuity and use it as a watch without serious battery life concerns. The 4.3-inch screen's use case was immediately obvious — Qualcomm had it set up running a demo video of various Android screens, put into a prototype body complete with the four signature android buttons below the screens. The relatively high pixel density of 343ppi was the highest of the three displays and stacks up well with smartphones running more standard displays. Lastly, the 5.7-inch screen appeared to be running a demo of some tablet-type apps, but the size feels more appropriate for the e-readers that already use a variant of it. Qualcomm told us this screen was a new prototype, but didn't have more details on how it differed from ones already in production — they told us the company is just continuing to iterate on the technology.
Like all Mirasol displays, there's no backlight here — they reflect light just like Eink displays, so visibility in the sun (or under harsh trade show lights) is strong, and power consumption is minimal. Unfortunately, color reproduction and refresh rates still don't match up to more standard display technology. Still, it's good to see a potential alternative that efficiently sips power continue to be backed by Qualcomm, though there's no word on when this tech might make its way into shipping products.