Gregory Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group at Intel, holds up a Tiger Lake chip and motherboard at an Intel news conference during the 2020 CES  (Reuters)
Gregory Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group at Intel, holds up a Tiger Lake chip and motherboard at an Intel news conference during the 2020 CES (Reuters)

At CES, Intel unveils laptop prototype that unfolds into giant screen

  • Intel’s prototype has a 17.3 inch folding screen with an external keyboard and a in-built kickstand to help keep the device upright
  • Foldable screens in mobile phones had a rocky start last year with Samsung’s Galaxy Mobile

Foldable screens are not restricted to phones anymore. They are set to make laptop displays even bigger. At CES 2020, Intel Corp. unveiled a foldable screen laptop concept that personal computer makers are likely to introduce soon.

The new Horseshoe Bend concept will help transform the laptop into a giant screen, akin to a television when the screen is unfolded. Intel’s prototype has a 17.3 inch folding screen with an external keyboard and a in-built kickstand to help keep the device upright in the unfolded position. Intel didn’t say how soon the new devices will be commercially available.

Foldable screens in mobile phones had a rocky start last year with Samsung’s Galaxy Mobile, the first ever phone with a foldable screen, breaking down in the hands of reviewers, delaying its launch by months. Motorola has also delayed the sale of its foldable Razr smartphone, claiming it failed to anticipate the high demand for the device. Concerns related to the durability of folding screens are therefore not entirely unfounded.

Despite the initial setbacks, it’s clear that folding screens with even larger displays are definitely the future. On Monday, Lenovo Group showed off its foldable ThinkPad laptop in Las Vegas. The device is likely to go on sale later this year. The entire screen folds into a device the size of a laptop and weighs less than a kilogram. While it’s not fully clear how the foldable screen will increase the productivity of a business traveller, the bigger screen will certainly help them when they unwind at a hotel while streaming movies from services such as Netflix.

Christian Teismann, president at Lenovo, demonstrated the Thinkpad X1 foldable computer based on Intel technology at the event organized by the world’s biggest chip maker.

With Dell, Intel plans to launch the Duet, a laptop that uses the Horseshoe Bend concept. The Duet will open up to become a giant 17 inch foldable computer. It has a detachable keyboard. Intel has developed the concept to help laptop makers and software companies overcome designing and engineering problems in building a foldable screen computer. The computer makers can refine the initial design according to their needs.

As the technology behind foldable screens mature, users can look forward to faster processing power, better graphics, easier ways to edit videos and general improvement in the ruggedness of these devices.

With bigger screens, the devices will certainly be more expensive. The new foldable screen laptops will also use Intel’s new Tiger Lake chip that offers improved performance and smaller form factor. The chip maker expects the new range of microprocessors to be used in foldable-screen laptops. The new chip will also use artificial intelligence to process tasks.

Intel and other manufacturers are pushing the envelope by innovating around the form factor and adding new uses to make the laptop cool again, amid the onslaught of mobile phones and tablets. While mobile phones, restricted by their size, aren’t likely to offer the full functionality that a business executive needs from a computer, laptop makers, after years of struggling with declining and slow sales, are starting to radically rethink how the device can be used and how it looks, a departure from unveiling another “thinner and faster" device for decades.

The reporter is in Las Vegas at the invitation of Intel Corp.

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