I’m a big fan of Microsoft Teams and over recent months it’s become the primary working tool for many of us. It gives us the collaboration and meeting features we need, with easy to use chat, voice calls, and integration with all of Microsoft’s productivity suite.
But using Teams on your main PC can have some drawbacks – you’ll probably need to do more 'window juggling', and you can often find your video call is obscuring something else you need.
Lenovo’s recently launched ThinkSmart View solves these problems. It’s a standalone productivity device that’s dedicated to Teams. This is a timely change, as we all are still adjusting to a new normal, and it brings Lenovo’s existing ThinkSmart technology to a compact, low-cost device that’s about the same price as an IP phone and second screen.
In fact, this is the first of a completely new product category: standalone Microsoft Teams displays, that provide an all-in-one solution to help users work more efficiently. Lenovo is ahead of the game here, but we’re expecting other vendors to follow, with Microsoft’s own version expected in September.
ThinkSmart View is always on, and always connected to Teams. By combining everything users need into one package, it makes it easy to start or join meetings or video calls with a single touch. I think it’s mostly likely to find a home on individual users’ desks, but would also be handy in smaller meeting rooms, or for informal get-togethers in communal office spaces.
So what’s under the hood? ThinkSmart View integrates an 8-inch HD touchscreen, microphone and speaker, and a camera, along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You can use it like a speakerphone, or with a Bluetooth headset, and I understand that in future it will also be able to be paired with any PC.
For the IT department, ThinkSmart View is simple to roll out and support. Many users with desktop PCs may not already have a webcam or microphone, and the new device is a straightforward way to bring them up to speed with Teams. It’s secure, with a PIN number for users and a built-in camera shutter, and is ready for deployment out of the box.
I wrote the above last July – since then, Lenovo has rolled out a couple of software updates adding to ThinkSmart View's functionality, with more planned. These are primarily aimed at making it even easier to use, and saving time: for example, you can now easily access and share recent files between ThinkSmart View and your main PC, as well as lock and unlock both devices from the PC.
Support for handling contacts has been improved, and the user interface has been updated, making it simpler to see what’s happening at a glance. ThinkSmart View can also be controlled hands-free, using Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant – this is already available in the USA and expected in the UK soon.
Teams is rapidly becoming the default for collaboration amongst SMEs and larger organisations. ThinkSmart View will let many organisations take the next step: making Teams easier to use, and ensuring there’s no barrier to its productivity gains.
If you’d like to find out more about the Lenovo ThinkSmart View, speak to your account manager.