Haier may not be the first name to spring to mind when it comes to cutting-edge electronics, but the company has been a major force in the kitchen and appliance market for years. Now, Haier's decided to throw research and development cash at the gadget market, with some fascinating results. When we got the call to check out its transparent LCD monitor at the IFA tech show, our little legs couldn't get there fast enough, and there were plenty of other geek treats on show too.
Shown at IFA in PC monitor guise, the 22-inch LCD panel is completely transparent. Even when there's an image floating across the screen, it's possible to see right through the display. A traditional backlight is lacking, so we suspect the set uses LEDs hidden in the metal frame.
When quizzed about possible applications, Haier told us that adopting transparent monitors could lead to a brighter, less cluttered office environment. They'd be no long shadows across desks, you see.
While it's unlikely that general PC users would buy into the concept, it's not a stretch to imagine the technology popping up in the reception areas of businesses. The technology could also be used to breathe futuristic life into the second-screen TV market.
The display certainly looks gorgeous. The panel has a resolution of 1,680x1,050 pixels. We found small text fonts to be legible as long as the screen was positioned against a predominantly white backdrop. Because of the screen's translucent nature, legibility suffers when the background setting becomes dark and cluttered.
While detail reproduction is exceedingly good, we did detect some slight motion judder with moving video. The viewing angle also plays a part when it comes to colour fidelity. Viewed square on, colours become stronger and more defined, although hues could never be described as vivid.
The display itself is completely cool to the touch, indicating that it's probably quite energy-efficient.
Haier wouldn't be drawn on a release date for the technology, but it certainly left us dumb-struck. Could this screen really come from the same R&D centre as Haier's shiny dishwashers?
Check out the photo gallery above to see more of this screen.
As it happened, the transparent monitor was just one of a number of televisual innovations on display from Haier. Alongside the transparent panel was a 46-inch LED TV with a wireless mobile-phone charger built into the pedestal. Just leave your mobile under the telly overnight and it'll be fully recharged in the morning. Apparently, the technology can also recharge laptops and tablets.
Slightly wackier was a 55-inch, completely cordless 3D TV prototype that employs Wireless Home Digital Interface video technology to receive sound and hi-def pictures from a transmitting base unit. The picture is non-compressed 1080p. Images delivered in this way appear to be no different to those you might expect if they were delivered via HDMI -- sharp, clean and free of artefacts. Apparently, signals can be delivered over a distance of 30m.
Not only does this set receive wireless AV, but it doesn't need a mains lead either. Instead, the screen is powered through the magic of magnetic resonance coupling. We've seen this used for low-power objects like light bulbs before, but never a TV. File under 'electrickery'.
Click through the gallery above to cop a load of this TV.