Lenovo ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop

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I did not have Lenovo rolling out the red carpet for see-through laptops on my bingo card, but here we are. I saw the ThinkBook transparent display concept laptop in person a few weeks ago. I didn’t get to do much with it besides touching it, though I did get to sit there and imagine devices soon looking like they did in the six-season run of The Expanse. Lenovo’s ThinkBook is not it, however, and you’ll want to keep reminding yourself this is conceptual when you look at my photos in a bit.

Lenovo also revealed details about other laptop updates at Mobile World Congress, or MWC, the international trade show where it’s debuting all these new devices. In addition to several updates coming to the ThinkPad line, Lenovo announced its laptops are getting easier to repair.

The transparent Lenovo ThinkBook feels like a prototype in its current state.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Lenovo ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop

Lenovo announced a new concept device called the Lenovo ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop. It’s a 17.3-inch notebook with a transparent Micro-LED display and a projected transparent keyboard on the bottom. There’s a length-wide trackpad embedded for pinching and scrolling, as well as the requisite connection ports. There’s even a rear-facing camera at the bottom on the backside, which helps with scanning people and objects so that you can interact with them on the see-through display.

A photo of the virtual keys on the transparent Lenovo ThinkBook

Though it worked fine during the demonstration, I’m not a fan of the touch-typing experience on a laptop.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The ThinkBook is a proof-of-concept laptop, so while there were ports on the chassis and software installed on the unit, it’s not the end-all, be-all of what Lenovo’s planning with this form factor. What I saw worked—it ran Windows 11 and even fired off a few AI queries, though it took a few tries to do so successfully. But it still seems so far from what people want to do with a transparent laptop display. The projected keyboard is a huge turn-off.

I stood behind the see-through laptop while showcasing a video. The image was mirrored on the other side, and I could read most of what was on screen despite it being backward. In the wrong environment, I see that being an issue for someone less tech-savvy who leaves all program windows open even when presenting quarterly results.

A photo showing what AI does on the see-through Lenovo laptop

The transparent Lenovo ThinkBook has AI integrated into it to do neat-looking and almost practical things with the interface. This is supposed to be a digital butterfly perched on the flower’s petal.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I’m also still scratching my head about the embedded rear-pointed camera. The demonstration showed a digital butterfly attempting to land softly on what the laptop had determined was a physical vase with a flower in the middle. Cool. I could see the attempt—the butterfly managed to barely grace the petal as it found a place to rest—though it wasn’t resonating enough to transport me into the vision of the future.

This laptop doesn’t exist outside of Lenovo’s test labs. At least this way, the company can proclaim it was among the first to think of laptops using this technology. However, there is still so much more polishing before a transparent laptop is as enticing as a transparent TV in the living room.

Real Lenovo laptops you can buy soon

A photo of the ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2

The ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 is a tablet and laptop.
Image: Lenovo

Lenovo did update models in its ThinkBook and ThinkPad lineups, and you’ll be able to purchase these very soon. The ThinkPad T14 Gen 5, ThinkPad T14s Gen 5, ThinkPad T16 Gen 3, ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2, and ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 Gen 4 are all getting essential updates. All models will be available with updated Intel processors and general improvements in power efficiency and AI handling. The ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 and T16 Gen 3 are also available with AMD Ryzen chips and graphic processing. These two laptops will have up to 2.8K OLED panels for the 14-inch T14 Gen 5 and up to 4K OLED on the 16-inch T16 Gen 3. The ThinkPad T14s Gen 5 is another 14-inch device with up to a 2.8K OLED display, though this model offers no AMD.

The ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 is a two-in-one device, not to be confused with the actual ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 Gen 4 that’s getting reprised this season. The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 has a fully detachable display with a 3:2 ratio, so it’s more a tablet than a laptop. The ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 Gen 4 is more for on-the-go laptop users who occasionally want to swivel to hide their keyboard. Both devices also get the standard bump-up in specifications, including new Intel processors and up to 32GB of RAM. They’re also getting the new TrackPoint Quick Menu shortcuts, which allow you to cut off microphone and camera access with a button’s (double) touch.

The last thing to note about Lenovo’s MWC announcements is that the company wants to be known for its repairability—it’s all the rage right now with the discussion of the right to repair. The ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 and T16 Gen 3 have been reconfigured internally to be easier to fix. In collaboration with iFixit, Lenovo “created new repair guides including video procedures for all CRU parts as well as making those parts easier to order,” according to the press release. The laptops mentioned both have a repairability score of 9.3/10.

The Lenovo ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 Gen 4 will be available next month at $1,170. The Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 5, ThinkPad T14s Gen 5, ThinkPad T16 Gen 3, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 will all be available in April 2024 at a starting price of $1,200. The Lenovo ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop will never be available because it’s still a proof of concept.

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