Samsung is set to show off a prototype tablet with a bendable display at Mobile World Conference next week, according to etnews. Unlike other flexible screen rumours surrounding Samsung at the moment, this one is plausible thanks to that ever-so-important word: ‘prototype’.
Samsung’s flexible display technology is no secret and the company has been showing off R&D models for years. These screens have always had a bulky block at one end containing all of the real hardware, so if Samsung has figured out how to spread it out across a usable, comfortable form-factor we’re keen to see how it performs. It's very unlikely that Samsung is ready to hit the consumer market with this technology, but we can believe that there's a working prototype with limited functionality out there somewhere.
The tablet itself is supposed to switch between tablet and ‘laptop’ modes. A fold in the middle of the display would allow the user to switch between the two modes easily, while providing a futuristic melding of screen and keyboard found on no other device to date.
This is the first time we’ll see bendable screen tech employed as a real-time way of switching modes on a device, unless you count Samsung’s ultra-expensive, recently-released, monstrous UHD TV that can switch between curved and flat screen modes.
What's the point?
The usefulness of a single device that can switch between laptop and tablet modes has been evident for a while now. Bluetooth keyboard tablet accessories are big sellers for exactly this reason. There have been other, less-successful attempts to merge the two form-factors, but they always failed thanks to the incurred bulk that a tuck-away keyboard adds, especially if it can't be removed.
A single, compact tablet that can take on basic laptop duties without adding to weight or size would be a huge hit with many people. This would be contingent on it not making sacrifices with the user experience by ditching key hardware or launching before the screen was capable of providing a smooth interface. As we said it's doubtful that Samsung is there just yet, but we can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If this tablet turns out to be the real-deal then we could be only a year or so away from seeing portable consumer technologies with flexible displays and multi-mode operations. The very idea of that gets us all excited deep in our geeky souls.
The video below very briefly shows the usefulness of a bendable display. By briefly we mean from about 0:35 to 0:39. You can watch the rest if you want, but we'd suggest sparing yourself the bother.