Is the Future 1,000 Hour eInk Devices?

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs was at the D8 conference pushing his company’s Mirasol Display. Like other eInk solutions, Mirasol Displays sip power at a much slower rate than the displays we find in most devices today. In fact, LaptopMag is reporting that Jacobs said devices with a Mirasol Display could help devices run 10x to 100x longer than an iPad on a single charge. By my math that’s 100-1,000 hours on a single charge.

eReaders like the Kindle already blow the iPad out of the water in terms of  battery life thanks to their eInk displays, but they don’t come close to 1,000 hours. As with most battery claims/predictions, I’m skeptical of Jacob’s claim of 1,000 hour battery life, but it kind of got my imagination rolling. A 1,000 hour device may be a pipe dream today, but it may be a reality in years to come.

One reason I use my iPad a lot more than I’d expected to is because of its phenomenal battery life. I can go days between charging it when I’m using it lightly. I don’t have to rush off to charge it when the 20% battery warning hits because I know I have at least an hour and a half of juice left. It outlasts any other battery-powered device I own.

A 1,000 hour (about 6 weeks) device of any kind could really change how technology is used. For example, students could be given an eReader loaded with all of their textbooks at the beginning of a semester and never have to recharge them. Patients’ charts could be “always-on” for hospital staff.  Architects could hand off digital blueprints to contractors that could be toted around a job site and stowed in a toolbox, just like real blueprints, without having to charge the device until the project is done.

eInk displays like the Mirasol Display certainly don’t look as pretty as the iPad’s display, but a lot of applications don’t require high-quality photos and video.

4 Comments

  1. Andy

    06/03/2010 at 11:41 am

    You’re forgetting that the rest of the device may draw power at a higher rate, so you’d still be limited by the rest of the device. It’s just that the display wouldn’t be the biggest power sucker.

    Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      06/03/2010 at 2:49 pm

      Oh, I realize that there are other components that draw a lot of power :-) I’m just toying with the idea that devices that run for dozens or hundreds of hours can really change how people use mobile tech.

      Reply

  2. Charles in Canada

    06/04/2010 at 6:14 am

    This display technology resolves the biggest issue for me when using mobile devices: viewing outside in bright conditions.

    If the image quality is “acceptable” under other conditions then this could be a winner for cell phone and MID screens – a market Qualcomm is well positioned to serve. With this, the screen could stay on all the time (with lights off) and not drain the battery – that opens up new possibilities

    There’s also Pixel Qi, but they are focused on the 10″ display size for now. Pixel Qi’s screens seem to provide a better image quality that that of Mirasol when the backlight is turned off…

    Reply

  3. Nameless

    06/06/2010 at 5:48 pm

    mirasol displays probably won’t touch the iPad’s IPS LCD in terms of image quality, but I’m not as concerned with overall image quality on a mobile device so long as there’s no distortion at offset viewing angles and I can still see color.

    Power savings and long battery life will be necessary to develop the pen and paper replacement I’ve been looking for. The viewing qualities of mirasol displays being closer to paper and e-ink than LCD also helps.

    Now when will someone wise up and produce something like the Courier or Eee Tablet with mirasol?

    Reply

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