The 7-inch tablet market is rife with rumors these days. Not long after Google made a splash late last month with its Nexus 7 announcement, the gossip mill began working overtime, churning out unconfirmed reports that a second-generation Kindle Fire and a 7-inch iPad were destined to debut later this year.
Now it's Barnes & Noble's turn. CNET reports that B&N will soon unveil a new 7-inch tablet with "revolutionary screen technology," but doesn't say how or why the new slate will be special.
CNET's unnamed source, who reportedly has previously "proven reliable," didn't spill the details on the cutting-edge screen, but did say that B&N was developing the technology in-house with the help of another firm.
OK, speculation time. What kind of screen would qualify as revolutionary? One possibility: A hybrid display with the attributes of LCD and e-ink displays.
Qualcomm's mirasol display technology is a strong candidate. Unlike LCD screens, mirasol displays don't have a backlight, rather relying on microscopic mirrors to reflect ambient light, according to Qualcomm. They display color, are easy to read outdoors, use relatively little power versus LCD panels, and are capable of displaying video.
The video below is a Qualcomm promotional clip showing its mirasol display in action, both indoors and out:
Qualcomm has been developing its mirasol display technology for years. The company told investors last November that the screens would be in full production--and used by mobile devices--by mid-2012.
If the next Nook does feature a mirasol display, it won't be the first e-reader/tablet to do so. The Kyobo eReader, a Korean slate that debuted earlier this year, also used the Qualcomm screen. It never caught on with consumers, however, and was recently discontinued.