Pixel Qi Review – Pixel Qi Vs E Ink and LCD

Pixel Qi Vs E Ink vs LCD

I’ve been testing the Notion Ink Adam’s Pixel Qi display in various lighting conditions to see how it compares to E Ink and other types of LCD displays.

Pixel Qi screens are known for using less power than traditional LCD displays because they have transflective and reflective modes that utilize ambient light to illuminate the pixels on the screen. Because of this, the power-hungry backlight is used less and can even be turned off completely when reading in bright lighting environments, even direct sunlight.

Pixel Qi Outside

Outside in bright sunlight, the Pixel Qi screen is considerably more legible than regular LCD screens, especially TFT screens. Comparing it to the Nook Color, you can see that the Adam’s screen is lighter and the text is easier to read. But doesn’t come close to the Kindle 3’s E Ink Pearl screen.

Pixel Qi vs E Ink vs LCD Outside in Bright Sunlight

After shooting the above video, I realized that the Nook Color has an above average outdoor readable LCD screen. So I decided to compare the Adam with the Next3, which uses a TFT LCD screen like the majority of tablets priced under $300. It looks like the screen isn’t even turned on, but in fact the brightness is turned all the way up. Click the images to enlarge.

Pixel Qi vs TFT LCD

Pixel Qi Vs TFT LCD

Pixel Qi vs LG’s LCD

Pixel Qi Vs LCD

Pixel Qi Indoors

Below is a picture of the Pixel Qi screen indoors with the backlighting turned off. Obviously without light it is too dark to read, but under a lamp it looks like this (click for big) . . .

Pixel Qi Indoors

For comparisons sake, here’s a look at the Adam’s Pixel Qi indoors with the brightness turned all the way up and a look at it with the backlight off under a reading light.

Pixel Qi Light On

Pixel Qi Light Off

Screen Protector

One caveat about these photos and video, all show the Adam’s Pixel Qi display with the matte screen protector off, with the exception of the two pictures directly below the video. The Adam’s matte screen protector considerably reduces reflection, glare and fingerprints, making the Pixel Qi screen look a lot better with the backlighting low or off.

But with the backlight turned up indoors, the screen protector causes the display to look like a really cheap TFT screen that’s all glittery and grainy (it’s not something I can show with my POS camera). The trade-off is not worth it in my opinion, but it all depends on your personal tastes. I’m going to see if I can find a different type of anti-glare screen protector that doesn’t degrade the screen quality as much.

Power Savings?

So far my tests with the Notion Ink Adam are inconclusive. It is only getting about 6.5 – 7 hours per charge with auto-brightness turned on. Compared to other devices that’s really not an improvement in battery life at all. But since I don’t have a regular LCD version of the Adam to compare, trying to quantify the difference for the Pixel Qi screen isn’t possible at this time.

Pixel Qi Review Conclusion

While Pixel Qi screens are no where close to E Ink screens like the Kindle 3 in terms of readability with the backlighting off, Pixel Qi screens are much more readable than traditional LCD screens outdoors and in bright light.

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Indoors with the brightness turned up, Pixel Qi screens look just as good as regular LCD screens, but aren’t as bright and colorful as higher quality LCD screens like the Nook Color’s LG display.

One thing these pictures don’t illustrate is the benefit of Pixel Qi screens indoors next to a window or other bright light source. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with the Notion Ink Adam sitting in front of a window with the light partially on the screen. The auto-brightness keeps the backlight on just enough to really make the display look good. It has kind of a metallic look to it, colors aren’t very bright, but everything is very clear and defined.

Overall, I’m happy with the Pixel Qi screen, being able to go outside and get some sun while working or reading is a major plus. Reflections are an issue without a screen protector, however. With the Adam sitting flat on my lap or a table it’s not so bad, but head-on it is. If I can find a good screen protector to minimize reflections without degrading the screen quality it will be all the better.

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8 Responses to “Pixel Qi Review – Pixel Qi Vs E Ink and LCD”

  1. Which reader should I choose if I do not want to have the flickering screen when changing page?
    Is it readers with LCD screen then?

    • I assume you are referring to the page refresh on E Ink ereaders when the screen momentarily turns black when refreshing the page? If so, that can be turned off on the PocketBook ereaders. SiPix ereader don’t do that either, like the Cybook Orizon.

  2. Have you by now found some screen protector that removes reflection without any other major drawbacks? The reflections is so far what has stopped me from ordering an Adam. It is really weird that Notion Ink went for such a reflective screen. It goes against what was one of their biggest and unique selling points – the ebook friendly Pixel Qi screen. I hope the release an updated version with the same hardware but a different screen glass.

    • Currently there’s only one screen protector on the market for the Adam that I’ve been able to find (here’s the review) and it is not an anti-reflection screen protector so I’m still waiting. Reflections really aren’t too bad outside when you lay the device flat on a table or your lap.

  3. Thanks. Maybe there is some universal anti-reflection screen protection kit available somewhere (like an A4 sheet that you cut to size yourself)?

    What is your experience so far on using the Adam for ebook reading indoors. That would be my primary use (I’d also use it for quite a lot of outdoors reading, but even more indoors). From reading other reviews, reflections seem fairly easy to block when placing the device on an office table by just aligning the office light in the right way. But I’m worried that reading in locations where the light isn’t easy to align (like a conference room with fixed overhead lights) might force the user to make tought trade-offs between avoiding reflection and avoiding bad viewing angles.

    • You don’t notice the reflections much with the brightness turned up indoors, but I’m not sure with overhead lighting–will have to test that. Outdoors the reflections are a lot more apparent, but like you said sitting the Adam flat on a table of lap makes the reflections not much of an issue.

  4. Thanks again. Let me ask one more thing (slightly off-topic from screen protectors but Adam related): have you tried using the HDMI-out feature? I’ve searched but not found any review of that specific use case, specifically for an office setting using a projector to display power point type of content. I’m mostly looking for information on ease of setup, resolution problems, and so on.

    • Yeah I tried the HDMI out to my 42″ TV and movies look pretty good but text is super-pixelated because it maintains the same ratio on the TV as on the Adam, unless there’s something that I’m missing.