Lenovo was back at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain with yet another futuristic design. The tech company showcased the ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop, a 17.3-inch notebook with a screen you can peer straight through. Lenovo showed off the prototype laptop with a see-through screen on Monday, February 26, at the global event. 

In addition to this innovative concept laptop, Lenovo also introduced a fresh array of ThinkPad and ThinkBook business laptops, as well as the ThinkVision M14t Gen 2 portable mobile monitor. The Thinkbook transparent device looks like one piece of glass with floating Windows icons on it. Moving the cursor appears as if you are moving in mid-air. It’s like you are using an AR headset, and the apps interact in a whole new environment.

Lenovo Thinkbook transparent laptop proof of concept MWC

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The New Models

The latest generation of ThinkPad lineup includes the ThinkPad T14 i Gen 5, ThinkPad T14s Gen 5, ThinkPad T16 Gen 3, ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2, and ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 Gen 4. They are powered by the latest Intel Core Ultra processors with Intel vPro on select models.

The ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 and ThinkPad T14s Gen 5 come in either Eclipse Black or Luna Grey, while the ThinkPad T16 Gen 3 and ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 are available exclusively in Eclipse Black.

Lenovo emphasizes that the transparent Thinkbook laptop is a “proof of concept” and does not anticipate it being available for consumer purchase in the near future. As of now, Lenovo has not released pricing or availability details for the newly announced laptops and monitor.

Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 new model Thinkbook transparent laptop

A Conceptual Design Only

The key highlight of the laptop is its bezel-less 17.3-inch MicroLED display, which offers up to 55 per cent transparency when its pixels are set to black and turned off. But as its pixels light up, the display becomes less and less see-through. Eventually, you’re looking at a completely opaque white surface with a peak brightness of 1,000 nits.

One of Lenovo’s big pitches here is that the transparent form factor could be useful for digital artists. It will help them to see the scene behind the laptop’s screen while sketching it on the lower half of the laptop where there is a touchscreen keyboard. This innovative design allows users to seamlessly switch between using the keyboard and a drawing board with a supported pen.

On the back of the concept transparent screen laptop, below the display hinge, sits a camera that faces outward. Lenovo says this could be used to identify objects behind the screen display and show information about them using object identification and generative artificial intelligence. For example, when you place a flower behind the laptop’s screen, it will identify it, display the information, and show a butterfly flying around it.

Lenovo Thinkbook transparent laptop proof of concept prototype feature

The Drawbacks

While undoubtedly eye-catching, this futuristic concept isn’t truly future-ready and it is not practical enough for cases of daily use. The transparent display offers a glimpse into what could be the next evolution in laptop design, but concerns linger regarding its practicality and functionality in real-world usage scenarios.

Lenovo’s demonstration revealed that the device can function like a traditional laptop and it has all the functions. However, questions arise about readability, glare, and privacy implications when using a transparent screen in various environments. How often, do you actually want to see the empty desk behind your laptop? Would it be beneficial to see your colleague sitting across from you, or would it be distracting?

The colours are not that vibrant and the display needs to be a little less transparent for the content to be more visible (with good clarity) on the screen. Since the keyboard also has a transparent design with no physical keys, the screen’s light reflects a lot on the keyboard deck making the touch keyboard not as visible. Additionally, the durability and reliability of such a novel design remain uncertain.

Lenovo Thinkbook transparent laptop proof of concept prototype display keyboard stylus

It will be interesting to see how will Lenovo go forward and improve this design to make it more convenient for daily use. Let’s wait and watch.