Could flexible screens be in the next laptop?

Could flexible screens be in the next laptop?

I’ve been referred to a lot as my future as I predicted desktop publishing years before it would become a reality and I predicted the Big Bang in mobile and pocket computing in a report I did in 1985.

One of the main reasons these predictions are made has more to do with catching a glimpse of ground-breaking technology years before it’s released to the public. An example is when I was offered a practical Canon laser printer motor three years before I converted it into a commercial product. At the time, laser printers were cabinet-sized devices and could cost between $50 and $100,000 each.

Seeing the Canon laser engine, which can easily fit into a desktop printer-sized format, I wrote in a report on printers that suggested, “One can imagine that one day they will be able to use a laser printer for desktop publishing and change the economics of the publishing industry.”

I’ve also been privy to some great research on mobile computing since 1983, somewhat in the form of Dynabook Alan Kay It was introduced in 1968.

While I knew this technology had been available for many years, I mentioned in one of our first reports on the evolution of desktop computing, “I could once see PCs being very mobile and probably in a pocket.” I got quite a bit of a mess for this when I wrote this study because early desktop computers were brutal. Like the original Compaq models, even the earliest laptops were more like Singer sewing machines in design.

That’s why I’ve been to many technology-focused conferences during my 40-year career in technology, meeting mainly non-disclosure agreements with companies to show me what they’re working on, and asking about their potential roadmaps.

One of the conferences I attended focused on technology SID Presentation Conference every year. This conference constantly gives attendees a glimpse into technologies designed to impact all types of computing devices of the future.

At this SID show in 2018, BOE showed me the first truly foldable smartphone prototype. This prototype led me to share my thoughts on the potential of foldable smartphones in my country PCMag column at that time. It took another two years to see the first commercial foldable smartphones come to market led by Samsung and others today follow suit.

Three years ago, I was shown early models of a much larger foldable LED display that were tested in a traditional laptop design. In fact, an OEM was able to modify an existing model of its laptop to include a foldable screen in a proof-of-concept design as early as fall 2017.

Then in 2019, Lenovo introduced a file ThinkPad X1 fold, which became the first foldable laptop with a 13.3-inch OLED display in landscape mode. Technically, this foldable laptop is a marvel of technology and has been designed to be used in landscape and portrait modes.

At the SID Display conference in San Jose, California last week, I saw the next generation of foldable OLED displays optimized for laptops. LG, Samsung, and BOE showed off their latest foldable screens that can be used in laptops and they were all great.

This YouTube link shows LG’s 17-inch foldable design in action in laptop format that LG presented at its presentation conference.

Samsung also showed off a 17.3-inch model called the Flex Note.

One of China’s largest monitor manufacturers, BOE, also showcased its latest foldable screen in a laptop prototype at SID.

At the moment, foldable smartphones are still in their infancy, and the market size of these devices is unclear. I tested the new Samsung Z Fold 3 and love its versatility as a smartphone and as a small tablet. This particular phone has real promise and sets the standard for what I think people expect in a foldable phone. However, the demand for this and all foldable phones is slow to take off. Currently, it is difficult to anticipate the demand for foldable smartphones.

The new, larger, foldable screens designed for laptops unveiled at the SID Show Week 2022 conference are still in the prototype stages, though we could see at least one of them presented at CES as early as 2023. It’s It also holds a lot of promise, though learning to type on an on-screen keyboard can be difficult for some. Another way to use foldable laptops could be to include an external keyboard, put the screen in a landscape position, and use it as a 17.3-inch portable monitor.

We also don’t know yet what price points they will bring to the market in the future, but you can expect them to be in the premium segment of the laptop market.

Seeing the new foldable OLED screens with their vibrant colors and amazing foldable capabilities suggests that a foldable laptop might be in the future for some. But I have doubts that it will become the dominant form factor of laptops in this decade, if ever.

2022-05-16 14:00:00

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