A leaked Lenovo laptop comes with a transparent display and I can’t get my head around why anyone would think that’s a good idea

Transparent screens are coming to our devices, we’re increasingly told, and it seems like it wouldn’t be a modern tech show without some sort of demonstration of a see-through screen. They’re pretty, that’s for sure, but I’ve yet to see a reasonable answer to the question of why you’d want one. Lenovo, however, seems to be prepping a transparent laptop concept, which may be the most baffling potential use case to date.

Evan Blass, a known leaker of all sorts of tech-related imagery, has tweeted some new photos of what appears to be two of Lenovo’s transparent laptops sitting on a desk in front of each other (via The Verge), with a nice bit of foliage draped in between to demonstrate that yep, that’s see-through alright. 

The leaker says that the concept will be brought along to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which begins on February 26.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen leaked images of the new laptop, as WindowsReport revealed some leaked press photos earlier in the month that give us a better idea of the form factor of the device.

The previous photos showed the deck of the laptop itself, which also looks to be transparent, and is surrounded by a slim frame that is speculated to house the ports, while the components seem to be housed in an opaque area towards the rear of the lappy with a small rear lip.

Here’s another look at that transparent laptop concept Lenovo’s bringing to MWC. pic.twitter.com/uH2g98q64QFebruary 15, 2024

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These new photos feature a stylus prominently on display in the foreground, which suggests some sort of touchscreen input, although whether that’s on the transparent lower panel or the upper screen itself is unclear. As someone who can’t stand fingerprints on any sort of display, the idea of sticking your greasy mitts on a transparent one fills me with some sort of internal crisis, so perhaps providing a stylus as a suggested input method is an attempt to mitigate the inevitable mess.

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In all honesty, the whole idea of a transparent laptop strikes me as being a tech demonstration at best, and not a concept I can see catching on. For a start, the whole idea of laptops in the first place is surely to take your computing on the go, and I’m not sure many of us would be comfortable allowing people sitting opposite us on the train or in an airport lounge to see what we’re reading or typing, even if it’s in reverse.

Perhaps this could be solved with a deployable frosted privacy shield on the rear of the display like those “smart glass” windows trialled in some fancy hotels, but that would really call into question the whole concept of the idea in the first place. Which is, err, transparent displays are pretty? Again?

Still, it’s unlikely to be the only demonstration of transparent tech hitting our mobile devices in the coming years. Samsung patented its own transparent phone concepts all the way back in 2020, and while we’ve yet to see a device making use of the tech it would be sure to make a splash if a working prototype was eventually revealed.

Do you want one? Nah, me neither. But if the most recent CES 2024 demonstrations are any indication, transparent displays are here to stay, even if they’re relegated to technology demonstrations for now.

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