As expected, Lenovo is showing off the first laptop that might actually be able to claim a truly bezel-free display, because the screen is a transparent micro-LED display that looks like a sheet of clear glass when there’s nothing on the screen.

But turn the laptop on and the 17.3 inch Micro-LED display can show text, images, and other graphics. While it’s still a concept laptop for now, the company actually built a ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop Concept, and is showing off prototypes at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The company isn’t providing a lot of details about the hardware, other than that the screen offers “high color saturation combined with exceptional contrast and 1000 nit brightness,” for “optimal visibility both indoors and outdoors,” and that the see-through nature of the display will allow you to view virtual objects overlaid on real-world settings.

Lenovo put a rear-facing camera on the bottom back portion of the laptop, allowing you to sort of scan real objects so you can interact with them through the display.

In other words, it’s kind of maybe an augmented reality device that you don’t need to wear a special pair of glasses to use?

Or, as The Verge describes, you could use the transparent nature of the display to draw pictures on the screen by tracing the objects you see behind it without your eyes leaving the item you’re drawing or your digital canvas.

Lenovo seems to view digital artists as a potential market for this sort of device, because in addition to a transparent display, the notebook has a graphics tablet where you’d normally expect to find a physical keyboard. You can use a pressure-sensitive pen on the touch-sensitive base. Or, when you’re not using a pen, a virtual keyboard is shown on the screen, allowing you to type (as long as you’re okay with virtual keys that don’t move).

Lenovo’s tech demo is impressive – but it’s also clearly very much a prototype. NotebookCheck points out that it’s a 720p display that looks rather pixelated and that the prototypes have a red tint.

The prototype screen is also always at least a little see-through. Unlike the transparent OLED TV that LG unveiled at CES, the ThinkBook Transparent Laptop Concept doesn’t have a black screen that slides up behind the display when you want to improve the image quality.

Lenovo isn’t ready to actually release a laptop with a transparent display anytime soon, so it’s unsurprising that the company isn’t revealing details about the processor, memory, storage, or potential price tag.

This is hardly the first time Lenovo has used Mobile World Congress to show off some cool technology that may or may not ever see the light of day. But at least last year’s concept laptop with a rollable display seems to have an obvious use case, in that it would give users more screen real estate when they need it.

The new transparent display concept? It looks cool, but I can’t help but thinking that a laptop with this technology would be prohibitively expensive and less useful than a model with a more traditional display.

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  1. Well a prototype it’ll have to remain I guess, since you really couldn’t rely on it without a layer behind the MicroLED layer using one of the available technologies that’s able to go from transparent to black on command.

  2. I’m inclined to think there would be a more of a bluish or a cool-toned tint on the display than a reddish one. The demo table on which NC photographed the unit is notably an intense red color, and I think the graphics look more cool pink-purple than red.

  3. Lenovo: “Is it safe to buy a used laptop or computer? In a word, no.”

    I’m not interested in doing business with Lenovo.

    1. Do not see any issues with this statement. Unless you are very tech-savvy person or buy from the person you know, it can be pretty risky.
      Check out how many tricks can be used to change user visible macs config. Or how system BIOS or on-board USB controller can be altered to provide backdoors and steal passwords, and no reinstalling OS can fix that. Official refurbishing does not guarantee getting rid off the malware. I know firsthand for the mobile phones, I’ve seen how hundreds of thousands phones were found out to be infected after official refurbishing (none was recalled, information did not left the factory). Have to say that even new hardware can come with malware though, many of the Chinese mini PCs actually have it in onboard components.