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I'm looking for a computer monitor or computer research being done into having computers not use a backlight, and instead just work off what light is reflected of things in the environment.

This would have great outdoor application, since all computer displays are pretty much useless in the sun for instance.

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My laptop display withstands direct sunlight pretty well. It can be painfully bright inside and is a little pale outside, but I can use it perfectly well in sunlight. Current LED-backlit displays are bright enough for such things. –  Joey Jun 6 '10 at 10:11
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

PixelQi makes displays that can both be backlit and work with ambient light.

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Manufacture and make consumer available, the iPad vs sunlight comparison kind of answers any question why we might need it. –  John Leidegren Nov 27 '10 at 14:30
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I don't know if such computer monitors are availableyet. I do know that electronic paper works like this.

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Impulse make transflective monitors: http://www.impulse-corp.co.uk/touchscreen-lcd-monitors/transflective-lcd-monitors/

There's a handful of similar manufacturers but they're nearly all professional, industry-specific stuff. Either outdoor display / advertising, medical, military etc. And they'll also have pricetags to accompany...

OLED would be the next logical jump, but the per-inch cost is still massive and it'll probably be usurped by LED-backlit for consumer goods. Perhaps you could investigate the few remaining SED manufacturers...

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