TOKYO (04/13/2000) - After years of research, Toshiba Corp. will later this year become the first company in the world to commercialize a key new technology for mobile computing and telecommunications devices -- an LCD (liquid crystal display) that does not require a backlight or separate supporting chips, the company has announced.
The technology, color reflective LCD, offers the high contrast of a backlit display without the power and size penalties of providing backlighting, according to a statement issued by Toshiba.
Removing the backlight from the display cuts by one-third the amount of power consumed by the unit -- an important factor in mobile devices that have a limited battery life -- but with conventional displays it also results in a screen that can be very difficult to read in anything other than bright sunlight.
Reflective LCDs make more efficient use of surrounding light levels and so can be used in artificially-lit rooms such as offices or houses and as such have been under development by many electronics makers for several years.
In addition to the power savings, the removal of a backlight also means the panel weighs around half that of a conventional unit, Toshiba said.
The Tokyo-based electronics said it plans to begin commercial sales of a four-inch color reflective low-temperature polysilicon type TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD panel in October this year.
Low temperature polysilicon displays contain the necessary support chips and circuitry on the glass substrate of the panel rather than in separate components and so require less space -- another important factor in mobile device design.
Capable of displaying 260,000 colors or 64 levels of grey scale, the display features VGA resolution (640 by 480 pixels) and consumes 0.4 watts of power in operation.
Toshiba expects to begin shipping sample versions shortly at a price of 50,000 yen (US$475) per unit.
Toshiba, in Tokyo, can be contacted online at http://www.toshiba.co.jp/