Companies have been showing off transparent OLED display technology for more than a decade. But 2024 might be the year when it finally breaks through to the mainstream.

LG’s big-screen TV with a transparent display was one of the most buzzworthy products announced at CES this year. And now it looks like Lenovo plans to show off a laptop with a transparent OLED display at Mobile World Congress later this month.

Lenovo transparent laptop concept (via @evleaks)

Last week the folks at Windows Report released a few heavily watermarked pictures of a Lenovo laptop that’s said to feature a transparent screen. Now Evan Blass has released another picture that gives us a much better look at the laptop.

While Blass describes the notebook as a “concept laptop” at this point, Lenovo does have a track record of bringing unusual computers to market. This is the company that likes to slap E Ink displays and/or second screens on its notebooks, for example. And Lenovo plans to release a 2-in-1 hybrid laptop that functions as either a Windows notebook or an Android tablet later this year. So I wouldn’t be shocked if this concept turns into a real thing you can buy sometime in the near future.

But some Lenovo research projects never move past the concept or prototype phases, so I’m also not holding my breath.

We’ll likely learn more about Lenovo’s latest concept laptop later this month, when the company says it will showcase “another world-first proof of concept and eye-catching innovative laptop form factor that push(es) the boundaries of engineering, design, and user experience.”

For now we can glean a little bit of information from the leaked pictures. The notebook appears to not only have a transparent display, but also transparent bezels, giving it a virtually borderless design, at least on the top and sides. There’s a large black strip along the bottom.

The screen becomes almost entirely see-through when there are no graphics displayed, but when the screen is working it can show pretty much anything you’d expect to see on a computer screen including text, graphics, videos, games, or other content.

One down side to this type of display is that it can be hard to focus on what’s on the screen when you can also partially see what’s behind it. LG gets around this with its TV by offering a retractable black panel that can slide upward and cover the back of the display when you’re watching videos. It’s unclear (pun partially intended) if Lenovo’s laptop will have a similar feature.

It’s also unclear why anyone would actually want to use a laptop with a transparent display. It certainly looks cool. But I’m not sure that it offers any functional advantages over more traditional displays, and it will almost certainly be more expensive to produce.

Adding to the futuristic aesthetic of Lenovo’s laptop concept is an unusual input area, which appears to feature a capacitive touch keyboard rather than a physical keyboard with moving parts. The picture also shows a stylus, suggesting that you’ll be able to write and draw on the device, although I can’t tell if you’re supposed to write on the transparent display, the input area on the bottom, or both.

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  1. It may have a black LCD layer behind the OLED layer.
    Even though you can probably fold the lid flat and use it like a tablet, because otherwise what is the point of that ultra flat super minimal touch keyboard that looks awful to use, I still wouldn’t be interested. Laptops with 360 degree hinges are simply better to type on, and will probably actually be able to survive being dropped more than zero times.
    And they’re more reasonably priced.

    1. Good point, finally it makes some sense the purpose manufacturers had coming out with the silly dual screen laptops. The pricing is atrocious and it looks flimsier too.

      I agree this type of product best to avoid buying, at least initially. Maybe another decade from now the product concept will be refined enough to justify purchasing. People with money to burn can be the early adopters to fund the cause.

      1. it’s not about time, it’s about what’s more comfortable to use. As long as you can see behind the screen, it will always be awful, so they need to make it not transparent. Ohh, wait! that’s exactly what they don’t want, so in 50 years, still useless. In 100 years? still transparent? useless.

        1. OLED simply cannot display dark colors without a black backdrop, so it must have that somehow in order to be functional, to the point that it would be implausibly dumb to try and do without. But it remains to be see how well it works.
          It’s still going to be fragile, expensive, and lack a good keyboard.