Samsung: Transparent displays are coming

Samsung seems ready to release a media player with a transparent AMOLED display this year, and could follow with the same technology on a laptop.

The first device to market will be Samsung’s IceTouch MP3 player, which also plays video, photos and radio. Storage capacity is still unknown, but the ability to see through the 2-inch display and to view it from behind is eye-catching — you can see a video at Engadget. It’ll be available in the United States in the second half of this year, for somewhere in the ballpark of $300, according to a report from Plus Plastic Electronics.


Samsung is also working on a laptop with a 14-inch transparent AMOLED screen. It behaves just like the MP3 player, and Plus Plastic Electronics says it could reach market in a year.


“Soon, I imagine that all Samsung’s audio-visual products will feature this technology,” Reid Sullivan, vice president of Samsung America’s audio and video and digital imaging marketing, said. “We want to be the first in this market.”

I just wish Samsung could explain why this technology is useful. Sullivan said it will “visually set our product apart from our competitors,” but that’s not good enough. Call me unimaginative, but it seems misguided to storm a market whose only merit is “wow” factor.

Meanwhile, it’s easy for me to think of many reasons why you wouldn’t want a transparent display:  No components can be placed behind the screen to save room, everyone in front of you can see what you’re doing, and the ability to see through a screen could actually be distracting — especially on a laptop. The technology will probably carry a hefty price premium as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed that the technology exists, and that it will actually be sold, but I can’t imagine who’s buying it.