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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, 2010 at 10:11
  • The GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance used screens without backlight. But in my opinion the image quality is poor. Also some Amazon Kindles don't have backlight.
    – zomega
    Jan 6, 2023 at 18:03

7 Answers 7

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

EDIT: However, the aforementioned domain is no longer owned by the screen manufacturer. The company is "presumed defunct" (1, 2)

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  • Manufacture and make consumer available, the iPad vs sunlight comparison kind of answers any question why we might need it. Nov 27, 2010 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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The computer monitor DASUNG's 3rd Generation E-ink Monitor-Paperlike 3 (Paperlike HD) does not use backlight


Below is the same answer as above. But with details if you're interested in those.

Product description

DASUNG's 3rd Generation E-ink Monitor-Paperlike 3 (Paperlike HD), 13.3” E-ink Screen (Carta & Flexible), 2200*1650 Retina Display. Just Like a Real Paper. Fast nearly as LCD. No Back Light. No Blue Light. No Screen Flash. You can Type, Code, Browse the Web, etc. Work well with any Equipment (HDMI). Support PC/ Mac/ iPhone/ iPad and so on.It is the best monitor to protect your eyes.

Manufacturer's video at https://youtu.be/Ah8dpfXL2LI

Review video at https://youtu.be/AeC3LIFTaho

This DASUNG's Paperlike HD monitor uses electronic paper. For those not familiar with this technology it is also sometimes called "electronic ink or electrophoretic display, are display devices that mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional flat panel displays that emit light, electronic paper displays reflect light like paper. This may make them more comfortable to read, and provide a wider viewing angle than most light-emitting displays. The contrast ratio in electronic displays available as of 2008 approaches newspaper, and newly (2008) developed displays are slightly better. An ideal e-paper display can be read in direct sunlight without the image appearing to fade."

Read more or order at the manufacturer's website at http://dasungtech.com

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  • This is awesome. Thank you. Although, a little light on technical specs, it does look promising. Oct 31, 2020 at 9:58
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Sun vision display company has made world first sun light readable no back light LCD full color HD monitor. it is an amazing product. it is available for sale now and can get more details from https://www.sunvisiondisplay.com/.

E ink based displays are also optional. They are very expensive and the main problem they have is the durability. I have used 2 E ink devices but they could be used maximum 2 years. then the screen getting darker and darker and become useless.

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    Jan 6, 2023 at 17:24
  • This is interesting, never heard of RLCD technology. Jan 7, 2023 at 14:59
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I have bought myself a reMarkable 2 tablet. It has a 10.3 inch electronic paper display, 1872 × 1404.

The reMarkable 2 tablet has a narrow focus but it can be used to run a Linux desktop. I'm have not tried that. I only use it to draw, sketch and think through problems.

Here's an example of a reflective LCD panel out in sunlight. Notice that the laptop is useless.

enter image description here

Link to video here.

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You should look for E ink displays, they are used in e readers, watches, and signs that need to be able to be updated remotely. E ink displays use very little power, but the problem is that their refresh cycle is rather slow and it's complicated to get proper colours. We used to have black and white tv too and now we have colour screens, so the same must be possible with E ink right? The research on E ink has been very minor since basically only Amazon used them commercially and there is only one major company making the displays, however many more companies have lately been starting on working on their own ebook readers. Let's hope more work gets done to the E ink technology so it becomes usable for more applications. We need more competition.

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