Pixel Qi, manufacturer of low-power transreflective displays which grew out of the One Laptop Per Child project, has announced the receipt of fresh funding and confirmed that its display products will be hitting the market Real Soon Now.

Those of you with good memories might remember the Pixel Qi launch back in December 2008, when founder Mary Lou Jepsen promised "an increase of 5-10x battery life between charges" as a result of the innovative display technology.

Sadly, the company then went quiet - aside from a low-key launch of a range of DIY kits for tinkerers willing to replace their netbook displays themselves, with which Pixel Qi claims have found great success due to being "easy to install and awesome."

A fresh input of funding, however, has lead the company to re-confirm its ambitions and to hint at a range of 7" Pixel Qi slates that could be heading to a shop shelf near you. According to Jepsen, the plans to release a Pixel Qi slate device - in partnership with Innoversal and Notion Ink - have been around for quite a while, but "100 percent factory use this spring and summer coupled with Apple's disruptive iPad [launch] had a 1-2 punch impact: delaying most tablet makers from coming to market as early as they wished."

Pixel Qi's display technology, which was originally developed for Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child project, uses a transreflective display to reduce the power draw compared to traditional LCDs while permitting use in direct sunlight - but featuring full colour and a refresh rate that electrophoretic e-ink displays just can't hope to match.

There's no clue as to when slates based around the displays will be available, beyond a vague commitment to "more announcements [...] this fall," but a sunlight-readable display could be the unique selling point that a new device needs to unseat Apple's hugely successful iPad from its place at the top of the slate food chain.

Do you think that Pixel Qi's technology is the future of portable displays, or has it yet to prove itself in a mass-market scenario? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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