Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pixel Qi eink display on a Netbook running OS X

How to install a Pixel Qi screen on Asus 1005HAB netbook (that happens to run OS X).

To summarize, with the use of an extension cable and an adapter I was able to install the Pixel Qi screen. However, the backlight never worked because the adapter didn't convert the wires that fed power to the screen. So in the end I ended up with a netbook that can only be used in bright ambient light environment.

So now, let's begin. We'll need:
* Asus 1005HAB netbook
* 30-pin (female) to 40-pin (male) adapter
* 40-pin extension cable
* Phillips screwdriver, preferably small.
* An exacto knife or a pokey object of your choice.

First, take out your battery. It will make things safer and easier to access. Then take off the the black rubber caps on the display lid using your pokey object of choice (I used my nails). These rubber caps are simply glued on. Put them away in a safe place and unscrew the screws behind them.

Then pop off the hinge plastic covers using an exacto knife. This can be a bit tricky.

Great. That was the trickiest part of the whole thing. Now pop off the top of the display frame using your nails/exacto knife. The bottom part might be lightly glued. After you've done that, unscrew the four screws that hold the display (and it's frame) in place.

The display should now come off. You can put a cloth to prevent the keys from scratching it.

Now disconnect the screen. You may need to peal back the clear sticky tape to do that.

Detach the frame from the old screen and reattach it to your new Pixel Qi screen. There are two small screws on either side of the screen that hold the two parts of the frame in place.

Now it's time to connect your new Pixel Qi screen to the laptop. This is problematic on Asus 1005HAB because the Pixel Qi screen uses a 40-pin connector, while Asus screen uses a 30-pin connector (note: 30-pin connector is actually bigger than the 40-pin connector). After hours of searching the Internet this is the only adapter (lower) that I was able to find. I ordered it via eBay from China.

You might want to use some tape to make sure the wires stay in place.

Carefully mount the screen and screw in the four screws that hold it in place.

Now turn it on to see if it worked.

It did. Wohoo!

But wait, did it really work?

Turns out that the backlight doesn't turn on. I looked at the adapter and it doesn't look like it runs all 30 cables to the 40-pin connector. It looks like it only runs about half of them. Bummer.

But in broad daylight it looks awesome!

It adds about 2 hours of battery, making the 1005HAB with a 6600 battery run about 9 hours.

Is it worth it?

If you can't get the backlight running, I would say that no, it's not. Ourdoors it looks amazing. Indoors with uneven lighting it doesn't work too well.

I installed my other screen and going to try the Pixel Qi on another netbook.


  1. Very good post, thank you. I have some questions:
    - where can I buy a qi screen? What about prices?
    - Is it really effective for eye strain indoor? I'm looking for a screen that helps me programming and reading text outdoor and indoor. I don't care about colors and quality, the important thing is to read! Is it like an Ebook reader? what about indoor performance?

    Thank you in advance and sorry for my poor english


  2. Hi TJ,

    I ended up installing it on a Dell Mini 10v - much easier, no need for extra connectors. Here are a couple of videos showing it:

    Here is where to buy it new:

    I use it as my primary writing computer and love it. I don't use it outdoors too much, but it works amazingly and is very much like a Kindle. Indoors it's like a regular screen - there usually isn't enough light to use with no backlight.

    If you want OS X, get Dell Mini 10v - very easy to install 10.6, but you won't be able to turn the backlight completely off.
    If you're OK with windows, take a look at Samsung N130 & Lenovo S10-2, for you'll be able to turn the backlight completely off.

    I got a Dell Mini 10v with a broken screen for $87, and the Pixel Qi screen used for $60. New the screen is $249.

    Good luck!