Pixel Qi, a spin off of the OLPC project which made the screens for the charity's XO machine, reckons it will enable laptops with battery lives in the 20-40 hour region. Speaking to PC World (the US publication, not the UK retailer), Pixel Qi's Mary Lou Jepsen, suggested that such a system should be available some time in the first half of next year.
"We are working with a number of notebook and e-book makers on a number of different form factors," said Jepsen. We can enable an increase of 5-10X battery life between charges compared with a standard notebook. This means that rather than needing to recharge your batteries every few hours, you could run 20-40 hours of use on a one charge."
In addition to offering significantly improved battery life, these screens are also intended to be cheaper to produce than current offerings. Although, unsurprisingly, currently Jepsen won't talk about what secret sauce is being used in these screens, it seems reasonable to assume they'll have some similarity to that used by the XO. That system, you may recall, boasted a screen which was switchable between an 800 x 600 resolution colour mode and a 1,200 x 900 black and white mode.
As we all know by now, the Achilles heel of all netbooks is their relatively poor battery life compared to a fully fledged ultra-portable system, like the Sony Vaio TZ, which can pull close to seven hours use on a standard battery. There's obviously a significant price difference, but if you need a day's use from a single charge then it's one that has to be paid right now. Hence why the proposition that cheap laptops could offer similar, or better, usage periods is exciting.