Smart watches are inundating the market and we can’t help but notice they are all sticking to a technology that is simply not made for the wearable experience. Yes, we are talking about LCD screens, a solution manufacturers are clinging to, without realizing is the worst option for gadgets of this nature.
There are multiple reasons why I stand by the fact that there are way better alternatives. An obvious one is e-ink, which Pebble has managed to make very successful. Using e-ink has a plethora of benefits, but it lacks one – it doesn’t offer color. This is why I believe Mirasol displays (or a similar technology) would be the best option for wearables.
We will tell you why Qualcomm’s Mirasol technology is superior, but first let’s tell you what the Mirasol display is. As some of you may have never even heard of it.
What is a Mirasol display
The short answer would be that it’s sort of like a color e-ink display. The longer answer would be that it’s an IMOD, or Interferometric modulator display. It’s actually very interesting how it works.
The display doesn’t actually emit light, it reflects it. There are tiny mirrors inside every pixel, which have the capability to limit certain wavelengths, therefore, allowing only the selected color wavelength to be perceived.
It’s a powerful and complex concept, but we will leave the explanation there for now. Let’s focus on the benefits it offers, instead.
Mirasol can be seen under direct sunlight
Because the screen actually works by reflecting light, your screen will look even better in direct sunlight. This is a property LCD displays can not share. Current LCD screens look muted and reflective when viewing them under direct sunlight or very well-lit environments.
This is a watch, guys. Struggling to see it outdoors is simply not acceptable. It’s also the way all classic smart watches have always been. Can’t see it in the dark? Turn on the integrated light and get going.
Battery life for days… literally
I have a smart watch with a Mirasol display. It was a concept device Qualcomm released some years ago. They call it the Qualcomm Toq, and it works like a charm. Today we are not talking about how it works, though. We are talking about how long it works for.
Have you heard about those Android Wear users getting excited about keeping their Android Wear devices alive for 2 days on a single charge? That is real cute. The Qualcomm Toq lasts me 4 days when I am using it heavily. I have extended its battery life up to 6 days before. Now that is what I call battery efficiency,a nd we can thank the Mirasol display for it.
LCD displays depend on back light and complex technologies to operate. Yes, they look flashy, colors are accurate and quality is amazing, but this takes a huge hit on battery life.
The Qualcomm Toq is right up there with the Pebble, in terms of battery life. That says a lot.
The display is always on
By the way, the display is always on. And I mean always, unless you manage to kill the battery. Mirasol displays don’t need to be turned off to save energy, unlike smart watches with LCD displays.
whether you are running, driving, laying down or chilling in a couch, you can look at your watch and find out what’s going on. No need to move around or tap anything.
You are not giving up color
Ok, so let’s talk about the display. How does it look? It won’t look like an LCD panel, that is for sure. Colors are often a bit off, too. But do you really need your watch to emit color-correct images? Not likely.
Now, I do understand the importance of actually having color. This is why I prefer Mirasol over e-ink. I like being able to recognize certain app icons and other images, and color is an important point of recognition.
Performance is actually awesome
Now, another reason that I happen to prefer Mirasol over e-ink is that e-ink performance tends to be very lacking. Refresh rates and response time is always slow, even if things have improved lately.
On the other hand, Mirasol displays work great. Let’s keep in mind the Qualcomm Toq does have a touch screen. I am always scrolling and switching between notifications. There is no noticeable delay or issue there. Transitions are quite smooth and I could see this being a great alternative for other smart watches.
Let’s take a look at a demo from our friends at Droid Life. Fast-forward to minute 1:55 to see the screen in action. It is super smooth.
What do you think?
I still can’t believe that no other smart watch manufacturer has really picked up on this. The day an Android Wear device is launched with a Mirasol display, you will find me in line waiting for it.
I can understand it’s not a cheap display and manufacturing costs would increase, but at least I would be willing to pay the extra price. Would you?