First foldable display Asus ZenBook laptop nears limited release with PI film cover for its flexible OLED screen
At the CES expo back in January, Asus showcased a working prototype of a laptop with a flexible display dubbed the ZenBook 17 Fold OLED. As the name suggests, it features a 17-inch OLED panel that can bend in half to become an easily transportable 12-inch affair. A tack-on keyboard completes the ingenious offering and Asus lists the 17.3-in screen to have a 2,560 x 1,920 pixels of resolution in an open "tablet" state with 4:3 aspect ratio, and 1,920 x 1,280 pixels display with a 3:2 aspect ratio when it is used as a small 12.5-inch laptop with the keyboard accessory.
The bendable OLED panel covers 100% of the wide DCI-P3 color gamut and Korean media is reporting today that it is made by BOE. The industry insiders also confirm that the ZenBook 17 Fold release will be in the middle of the year, so we may be looking at a jolly June/July launch. Another indication that the retail appearance of the first 17-inch ZenBook with a foldable display is near stems from the fact that Asus has ordered the mass production of the screen to BOE for this quarter.
Asus has reportedly chosen two suppliers for the display cover that will be made of a polyimide (PI) film rather than the more brittle ultra-thin glass solution that is currently used in foldable phones. One of those is SKC with a product whose commercial name is TPI (Transparent PI) film, while the other - Kolon Industries - uses CPI (Colorless PI) as the marketing phrase. Another subsidiary of the SK holding - SKIET - will be making the PI cover film HP has chosen for its own laptop with foldable OLED display that may be released later in the year.
Both laptop makers are gunning for the niche device market with their first laptops with a bendy OLED screen, as the industry report today suggests that ASUS has ordered 10,000 displays and cover films to BOE, SKC, and Kolon, the same amount that HP is said to have ordered to LG and SKIET. Kolon Industries also supplied the OLED display cover film for Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Fold you can still get on Amazon. At the time, Kolon said that "ultra-thin glass has a brittle property and is less folded (radius of curvature) than transparent PI film, so there is a limit to its application," which might explain why HP and Asus eschew it for their big-screen laptops with foldable displays.