LG Display announced today a 14.1 inch LCD panel for notebooks that at the push of a button switches from transmissive to transflective mode for use outdoors in sunlight. Rather than a backlight, a transflective display reflects ambient light to illuminate the LCD panel from the inside.
LG said turning off the backlight can reduce power by up to 75% delivering longer battery life when outside, and the display's 9:1 contrast ratio provides "superior outdoor visibility." (The LG Display press release is here.)
Toshiba already sells an ultraportable, the Portege R500, with a transflective display and an Outdoor Display Switch that turns off the LED backlight. CNET.com tested an older model, the Toshiba Portege R500-S5003, that didn't have the transflective display. But Laptop Magazine recently reviewed the Portege R500-S5007V--one of five current R500 configurations that do have this feature--and said they had "no trouble reading Web sites outdoors," though the display was a bit dim indoors in transmissive mode. PC Magazine agreed that the screen "at times looked washed out," but MaximumPC thought the Portege R500's screen looked "great" both indoors and out.
Here is Toshiba's explanation of how transflective display technology works: