February 15, 2023

Is Lenovo's ThinkSmart View Plus the Right Solution?

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Introduced at ISE 2023 was Lenovo's entry in the genre of "personal service integrated displays" (Bryan's term). This blog will dive right into it - let's go!

The Lenovo ThinkSmart View Plus is a 27" display that will list for $2,345 with an estimated release date of mid-2023. Let's look into the few specs we have available from the press release.

  • 4k camera with auto-framing
  • 27", 1080p multi-touch display
  • Integrated Android OS
  • Dedicated to Microsoft Teams
  • Four-mic array
  • Can be connected to a PC via USB-C
  • Supports stylus input for Microsoft Whiteboard (assuming within Teams and not the standalone app?)

No word on Touchback (controllability of a connected PC via the touch screen)

Image Source: Lenovo

Bryan's Take

Auto-framing on a personal device isn't completely necessary. You're close to it, you're interacting with it. No need for superfluous camera movement. However, it seems important for vendors to include a 4K camera in a solution that likely won't transmit at a resolution higher than 720p. Four microphones aren't necessary either for the same reasons.

Over the past couple of years I've tested several service based displays including:

  • Avocor's Google Meet-based Desk 27
  • DTEN ME Pro (Zoom Room)
  • Webex Desk
  • Webex Desk Pro
  • Google Jamboard
  • Webex Board 55
After spending time with each of these in their native mode of operation, one thought keeps running through my mind:

"How quickly can I switch it to being a normal display?"

The primary pain point with displays like this is the desk space that's completely used by a service device. Let's say you have one connected to a PC and using it like a "normal" monitor. You won't get notifications for activity in the service, unless it's also running on your PC. That necessity for redundancy, in my opinion, makes these types of display near useless if it is your only monitor.

The press release states that it is providing access to Teams chat, calendar and files. What sort of workflow disruption is going to happen when you get a chat notification, if you can even see it?

Now I'm not 100% against these types of displays and I think they have their place, just not on my desk. I see them as ideal for hot desking and hoteling so users don't need ancillary equipment to have a video call. As far as being a staple of home office users? I don't see it.

The most interesting feature is described as: "...the ThinkSmart View Plus enables screensharing between two devices to simultaneously view content and presenters...". We will have to see what that exactly means but sounds neat.

See Lenovo's press release for more information. Note that within their press release they refer to ISE as "Information Systems Europe" of which this website did no fact checking when rewriting. I digress.

This blog was written without hands-on experience with the device. The UC Test Lab was not briefed on this device. All information was attained from internet resources that may have subject factuality. 

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