Lenovo Unveils Transparent Laptop and AI Portables at MWC

Lenovo made waves at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, debuting a transparent laptop that is evoking science fiction metaphors and, some say, pointing to a new direction in computing. Lenovo hailed the concept ThinkBook product as an “industry first,” complete with a borderless 17.3-inch MicroLED transparent display, providing a “see-through” experience. Lenovo also touted its AI-powered portables, including a new ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 and ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 Gen 4, both featuring Intel Core Ultra processors “for the next wave of personalized business computing.”

The Verge suggests the key draw in the see-through unit with the working title “ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop” is the vast, bezel-less display, writing that it “offers up to 55 percent transparency when its pixels are set to black and turned off,” becoming “less and less see-through, until eventually, you’re looking at a completely opaque white surface with a peak brightness of 1,000 nits” as the pixels light up.

This is not Lenovo’s first stab at transparency. The company in 2015 unveiled a transparent smartphone concept from its now-shuttered Zuk Mobile subsidiary. And Lenovo is one of several companies to experiment with a transparent form factor.

Samsung unveiled a transparent laptop concept at CES 2010, and showed off a see-through MicroLED display at CES 2024, where LG’s peek-through DukeBox display garnered attention.

Companies have tried to commercialize the technology in China and Japan, with shop and train carriage windows that are transparent screens, The Verge notes, adding that “LG says it actually plans to ship its OLED Signature T transparent TV this year.”

While some question why users would want to see walls, people and assorted miscellany through their transparent devices, CNET thinks it “could open new ways of interacting with data and apps,” particularly as artificial intelligence becomes part of the equation, reporting the Lenovo Transparent Laptop is “a more collaborative-friendly device for working in a world of AI-generated content.”

“The design allows the overlay of virtual creations onto the real world, essentially becoming a see-through whiteboard,” CNET writes, adding that “the effect would be similar to how Apple’s Vision Pro mixed reality headset can drop virtual objects into your actual surroundings.”

The ThinkPad T14s Gen 5, ThinkPad T16 Gen 3 and ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 were also highlighted among the Intel-powered AI offerings, as detailed in Lenovo’s press release.

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