Freestyle Audio FA300 Waterproof PMP With Mirasol Display

As well as the Skullcandy partnership, Qualcomm also had the latest Freestyle Audio PMP on show with their new color mirasol display.  The ruggedized audio player manufacturer first announced it would be using the 0.9-inch low-power display back in May; it now has a name – the Soundwave Ltd. Edition FA300 – and more specifications, including Bluetooth A2DP wireless stereo headphone support.

The FA300 is not exactly iPod nano thin, in fact while 3-inches long the wedge-shaped PMP is close to an inch deep at its thickest.  It's lightweight, though, and rugged; Freestyle Audio had one demo unit operation while submerged in water, and the device is also rubber protected for surviving drops and bumps.

mirasol uses the same light-refracting concept behind butterfly wings to create a color display with very little power draw.  Electrically-controlled membranes overlaid onto a mirrored surface can selectively alter the wavelengths of light reflected back out of the display; the interference of different wavelengths lead to the different colors.  Since the mirror uses ambient light to make the screen visible, no backlighting is necessary; the membranes are also bistable, meaning that once set to create a specific color they require virtually no power to maintain it.

In practise, the mirasol displays lacked color saturation and, at 0.9-inches, are small compared to OLED and LCD.  Qualcomm have a 1.4-inch mirasol panel, with 176 x 144 160ppi resolution, lined up for mid-2009 availability, while the company told us that larger displays based on the technology are currently in working prototype form.  Part of the improvement process will be increasing color saturation.

No specific release date or pricing was given for the FA300 PMP.