Futuristic transparent laptop turns heads at MWC 2024

Lenovo ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop Concept MWC 2024
Image: supplied.

2024 seems to be the year for throwing preconceived ideas about laptops out the window, with Lenovo showing its concept for a transparent ThinkBook laptop.

Like every computer company in the world right now, Lenovo’s latest announcement is filled with AI-centric superlatives. Standing out among the noise is the ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop Concept, which is exactly what the name suggests. Last year, Lenovo and Motorola toyed with rollable phone display technology, making transparent screens the latest experiment.

Lenovo goes transparent with concept laptop

One of the big trends of 2024 so far, we’ve seen see-through screens from both LG and Samsung in the context of TVs. Taking the idea to portable computers, Lenovo’s concept laptop uses a 17.3-inch Micro-LED transparent display that’s said to be “borderless”. Even the space dedicated to keyboard inputs is transparent.

Micro-LED, not to be confused with Mini LED, is the same lighting technology used by Samsung in its experimental screens. Lenovo claims that it enables high colour saturation, strong contrast levels, and a 1000-nit peak brightness suited to indoor and outdoor use.

Lenovo transparent laptop MWC 2024
Will its touch-based keyboard be comfortable to type on? Image: supplied.

So, what’s the use case for a transparent laptop? Other than AI content, Lenovo’s aim appears to be combining digital and physical spaces. The transparent ThinkBook laptop doubles as a drawing tablet, too, with the keyboard area supporting touch input.

Being a proof of concept, there’s no guarantee that the transparent ThinkBook laptop will see a public release. Plus, it’s not entirely clear what the utility of such a device would be. On the other hand, dual-screen laptops, like Lenovo’s Yoga Book 9i and the Asus Zenbook Duo, have an obvious productivity benefit.

More repairable laptops

Lenovo unveiled a lot of laptops to kick off MWC 2024. While its transparent device is very much a concept, the rest of the range is tangibly real. We’re talking ThinkPad and ThinkBook laptops galore, plus plenty of accessories like portable displays.

Depending on the specific model, the laptops run on either the new Intel Core Ultra or AMD Ryzen 8040 chips. As you’d expect, there’s a lot of talk about AI features powered by neural processing units (NPUs) – a common line trotted out by the big computer companies.

What’s particularly noteworthy, however, is that Lenovo consulted with iFixit to improve the repairability of its devices. Specifically, the ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 and T16 Gen 3 have been made to ease the repair process. You can source parts, like batteries, and replace them yourself, aided by visuals outlining the steps involved. It’s a win-win for everyone: you get more life from your laptop, resulting in less e-waste down the track.

Lenovo and Motorola also launched Smart Connect, a software platform designed to bridge laptops, phones, and tablets. Similar technology already exists – like Intel Unison, Samsung DeX, and Apple’s built-in cross-device functionality – so the crucial element will be how many different devices Smart Connect supports. Perhaps it’s designed to be a more fully fledged version of Lenovo’s existing “Ready For” feature used by the ThinkPhone? Only time will tell.

Much of Lenovo’s MWC 2024 announcements focused on work and business uses, while its consumer-based gear took the limelight at CES 2024. Expect to see more local details closer to when the laptops are due to launch.

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