Throwback: Being Able to Read Your Screen Outdoors

Back in the old days, around the turn of the century, did you know that people actually had portable computers with screens that were visible in direct sunlight? Back in the year 2000, Compaq released the extremely innovative iPAQ H3600 (manufactured by HTC). This device had a transflective screen with side-lighting. Most screens these days are backlit, but with the transflective screen on the iPAQ, the light from the sides within the bezel would illuminate the screen in the shade. The device had it’s own ambient light sensor to detect when side-lighting was necessary. When the device was used in bright sunlight, the reflective display would make the colors on the screen perfectly readable.

See above photo by Arne Hess from 2001 of the iPAQ H3600 with no screen brightness in direct sunlight. How does that compare to any of today’s smartphone screens in direct sunlight?

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!
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