To vastly simplify matters, every LCD screen is made up of a bunch of pixels connected to each other with a mesh of tiny little wires. These pixels don’t actually emit light themselves, but simply regulate the color of the light being displayed in that pixel. Behind this mesh is a lamp, and before a pixel can light up on your screen, the light from this lamp needs to shine through this mesh of wires. Because this mesh is so densely packed, though, the lamp needs to shine very, very brightly to get through… and the brighter an LED light shines, the more power it soaks up.
This is why the new iPad needs such a massive battery. The Retina display has over 3 million pixels in in a tiny area, which means the mesh behind the display is even thicker and more densely packed. To compensate, Apple needs to use a very bright light to shine through this extremely dense mesh, which results in worse battery performance over all.
What if there was a way to make the mesh of wires behind every pixel a lot less dense? That’s the idea behind Sharp’s IGZO technology, and the reason why we’ve been excited about it finally coming to Apple products since at least the beginning of the year. Now it looks possible that, with the iPad mini, we could finally get our wish, as Sharp is now announcing that their IGZO tech comes in 7-inch varieties… and they are releasing a tablet to prove it.
Today, Sharp announced that it would soon launch a small 7-inch tablet with its new IGZO displays. Techhive reports:
Sharp’s new Aquos Pad, to go on sale in early December in Japan through local carrier au, has a 1280 x 800 IGZO display and other technologies that the company says allow its 2,040mAh battery to last 2.5 times as long as existing tablets. The company didn’t specify details, but currently sells a separate 7-inch tablet with a traditional LCD screen that can play video for six hours on a single charge.
IGZO, named after the indium gallium zinc oxide semiconductor on which it is based, is a new display technology from Sharp that can make smaller pixels than current screens, drawing less power and providing more touch accuracy. Sharp is a supplier for Apple and the screen technology has been linked to Apple’s rumored 7-inch iPad mini, widely expected to be unveiled at a press event set for Tuesday.
That’s a 2,040mAH battery. The iPad mini’s battery, in comparison, is believed to be 4,490mAH, or more than twice as big. If Sharp’s Aquos Pad can play video for over 12 hours, Apple’s iPad mini could go over 24 hours with a Sharp IGZO display.
That’s almost Kindle-like battery life. That would be a major selling point for the iPad mini, and do a lot to position it strongly in the competitive e-reading market, which Amazon’s super-battery efficient Kindle platform currently dominates.
Even if we don’t see Sharp IGZO technology in the iPad mini, Sharp IGZO’s technology means great things for future Apple products. Imagine next-gen MacBook Airs with 24 hour battery life, or iPhones that can hold a charge for days at a time, or an iPad 4 is half as thick and half as heavy as the new iPad. The sooner IGZO comes to Apple products, the better.