Now, I don’t need to tell you just how fast #MicrosoftTeams is being adopted across organisations globally, but one thing we are seeing is the shire explosion of new form factor devices by leading (and new) manufacturers into the Teams Collaboration space. Some of these new devices fits into the new category of Microsoft Teams Displays.
Microsoft Teams Displays – are a new category of all-in-one dedicated Teams devices featuring an ambient touchscreen, and a hands-free / touch-free experience “powered by Cortana” (though this is currently only available in the US only at this point).
One of these vendors is Lenovo, who are no means a “new kid on the block” when it comes to end user devices such as tablets, laptops, and desktops, but they are kind of new in the Teams Collaboration Device Space. Interestingly, Lenovo are now also supplying the “PC” component of, not only their new Teams Rooms Systems, but also that of Poly!
Introducing the Lenovo ThinkSmart View
The all new ThinkSmart View is a dedicated personal business communications device for conducting Microsoft Teams audio and video calls which can be managed by their ThinkSmart Manager software, a proprietary software application built for IT departments to easily manage their fleet of ThinkSmart devices.
Designed and certified exclusively for Microsoft Teams, Lenovo calls this a “…collaborative smart device that works from an individual’s workspace…” – it’s a collaboration device really designed for execs or those with a pop-up home office who want to be “free from their laptop or tablet” but still need a video rich and audio rich endpoint.
Lenovo are attempting to “reimagine the personal workspace” with Microsoft Teams displays by integrating the Teams collaboration and communication experience into the home and workplace with high fidelity audio and video.
So, what can you use it for?
Meetings – and it’s really good at them too!
Most of what the device can do is set out by, and limited by what Microsoft allows the device to do since the collaboration device is powered by the Microsoft Teams Android client that runs on the device.
Today (August 2020) the following features are supported:
- Teams Call / Video Meetings with full phone UX for Calls, Meetings & Voicemail
- Live Captions / Subtitles
- Full video calling, screen sharing / viewing
- Common Area Phone features
- Hot Desking Support
Coming “soon” – September 2020
- Ambient display support – for notifications, and activity views
- Raise hand support
- Support for navigating and interacting with Chat and Teams
- Access and Share recent Files
- Better Together for Calling & Meeting
- Leaving a note in meeting
What’s in the box?
This is really simple. The ThinkSmart View device and a plug.
What’s the Price?
The retail for these is £281 plus VAT – so I definitely put them into the affordable gadget category for most managers/exec that work at home or need a dedicated Teams Video endpoint in their office.
Lenovo are also offering a 45 day try-or-buy on this so speak to your partner about this if you are interested.
What’s the Spec?
As I said – think of this as a giant Teams Phone. Its runs the same native Teams Mobile app but is perfect as a Teams On-the-go collaboration device – as long as you have a power-plug to power it up as it doesn’t have a built in battery. With this device you get:
- 5MP wide angle (720p) with a physical camera shutter to cover it for privacy.
- Built in microphone with mute switch to temporarily cut the audio.
- 1.75″ 10W full-range speaker
- Bluetooth® 4.2 (LE) – pairing allows use with a headset and support auto device lock.
- 8″ HD (1200 x 800) IPS touchscreen with auto rotate for landscape / portrait mode
The ThinkSmart View is an interesting form factor device from Lenovo. It’s not immediately clear as to its best use case, however….
This could fill the need for a dedicated video collab device that a user can walk up to and start using on the desk on in a breakout area / small meeting room and it does support the “hot desk mode” – the lack of a handset makes it a bit in practical for a common area but you can pair it with a headset (again – great to dedicated use, no so much for common area use).
I think for anyone working at home, this is much better than having a Teams Phone on your desk and it’s actually something that would be great in another room (or area) of your home/office, but of course it’s limited to use within #MicrosoftTeams which probably limits that – there’s certainly no danger in your kids or other family members using it for WhatsApp calls for example – though they might inadvertently video call your boss via Teams!
My opinion – ideally suited for the millennial executive / manager desk as a communication endpoint for Teams that can break you away from your PC/Laptop/Tablet or device.
This a new(ish) form factor, though not entirely unique to Lenovo. The other Teams Collaboration device manufacturer in this space today is Yealink. I’ve not yet had the pleasure of testing one of these so I can’t do a review or comparison of yet
As you’d expect from Lenovo, build quality is excellent and at <£300 it’s a great device to buy a few of and see how users get on with them.
This is really nice and very simple to use device – it does Teams meetings as Microsoft intended – click join and enjoy!! The ThinkSmart View is excellent quality, looks great on the desk and works really well – what’s not to love for under £300 and if you need convincing (or need to convince others), there’s the try or buy offer too remember!
Will I keep it/Buy it?
I’m not sure yet – but probably!!!!
I’m going to put it through its paces for a week or so as I’m only a day in so far and I really hope the new software updates make thier way to my loan device before the end of my two-week trial!