NEC unveils first reflective LCD

NEC Corp. has unveiled its first example of a new type of LCD (liquid crystal display) that holds out the prospect of much longer battery life for portable products fitted with the screen.

The new LCD is an active matrix TFT (thin film transistor) reflective type, which means it uses reflected ambient light rather than an energy-guzzling backlight to illuminate the screen. The use of ambient light can impose some limitations on its use: it cannot be used in dark places for example, but this first commercial product reflects around 40 percent of the light falling on the screen – much better than previous prototypes and good enough to make it suitable for use both in- and outdoors.

NEC says the screen consumes 40 milliwatts in use – much lower than an equivalent three-inch backlit display that would consume in the order of one to two watts.

Targeting the portable device market, where power consumption is one of the most important factors when engineers are choosing what components to use, the new screen is a 3.8-inch amorphous silicon TFT model. It has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels and can show up to 260,000 colors.

NEC, in Tokyo, can be contacted at