Lenovo’s VP and GM of Visuals Business Stefan Engel breaks down the current state of the workplace environment, understanding the need of “elegance” in a device and the benefits of the company’s latest ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One Gen 5.
“What in the world is a Tiny-in-One?” was my immediate thought when Lenovo made its grand announcement about its next-gen, all-in-one monitors. Fittingly, this question was followed by, “and how is it already in its fifth generation?”
I’ve been a fan of Lenovo’s line-up of business and gaming-orientated devices, with its ThinkPad X1 Carbon consistently being among the best laptops you can get. That’s why it comes as a surprise that this elusive Tiny-in-One seemingly comes out of nowhere, and I can imagine many of you have the same question marks over your head.
Put simply, it’s a monitor that provides an all-in-one experience. No need for a chunky desktop tower taking up space or the riddle of cables that come with it; slide in one of Lenovo’s Tiny PCs into the side of the monitor and you’re good to go. But the best part of it all? Its modularity. That’s something Apple’s all-in-one iMac with M1 can’t deliver.
As Lenovo’s VP and GM of Visuals Business Stefan Engel states, “[Lenovo] really wanted to amp up the value of the all-in-one experience across every aspect of this monitor.” From the specs it boasts, and the specs it can boast in the future, the Tiny-in-One is all about future-proofing – and it’s designed with the modern workspace in mind.
Engel tell us more about the innovations of the new ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One (TIO) Gen 5, along with his thoughts on meeting the needs (and wants) of customers.
Tiny but mighty
For a better explanation of what Lenovo’s Tiny-in-One is and what it offers, I asked Engel what sets itself apart from other work-focused all-in-one desktops and monitors.
“It all starts with the name. The ‘TIO’ in Lenovo’s ThinkCentre TIO Gen 5 stands for ‘Tiny-in-One,’ which means it provides the space-saving benefits of an all-in-one experience but also offers the modularity that gives users the flexibility to swap out components, making it a more versatile device for certain workplace scenarios.”
He continues: “With a storage compartment on the back of it where Tiny PCs can slide in and out, users can more easily upgrade and service their PC when needed or switch it out when a different person is using the monitor. This means that, unlike with an all-in-one desktop, the PC and monitor can be replaced separately if the need arises.”
That’s the one downside that laptops and all-in-one PCs have been plagued with since their inception: upgradeability. Many major brands have tried bringing modularity to these devices, like Alienware’s Area-51m gaming laptop, but those upgrades only lasted a year, making seemingly promising modular CPU and GPU upgrades redundant.
These days, we’re stuck with the specs we get on our brand spankin’ new devices, only for next year’s model to outshine it in every way. Not with the ThinkCentre TIO, though. If you need a next-gen upgrade, like a 12th/13th Gen Intel chip with higher RAM, you just need to swap out one of the Tiny series desktops and get an upgrade. Or, hook it up to a stronger ThinkStation Tiny workstation PC, or connect up to two PC sources simultaneously.
“The working component can continue being used while the other part is being repaired or a new one is ordered, saving money and helping to prevent unnecessary e-waste,” Engel says. “Users also have more flexibility to configure a tailored all-in-one experience with the PC system they need or want, unlike with a traditional all-in-one PC that has a single spec that can’t be changed.”
That’s good news for individuals and businesses alike. I mean, who doesn’t want to cut down on costs to keep up with the rapid growth of modern technology? The monitor itself is no slouch, either. The latest ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One Gen 5 comes in two sizes: 21.5-inch and 23.8-inch. Both has a near-bezel-less display, along with IPS Touch panels, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio and a claimed 99% sRGB colour gamut coverage. Oh, and there’s even a 1080p webcam thrown in as well.
“We’ve thought about the person who spends the majority of their workday in front of a screen, so we’ve included an ergonomic stand with wider lift range, natural low blue light technology to help reduce eye strain, and a smartphone slot in the base for clear visibility and easy access to their personal device – all offering a more comfortable and efficient user experience,” Engel states.
“Having the option to upgrade or exchange the monitor and PC separately is the primary differentiator between a TIO and AIO (all-in-one) in environments where desktop systems are preferred. This can save customers money in a number of ways including the cost of system upgrades, asset losses from having to replace complete systems when only a single component may be damaged, and the cost of employee downtime.”
A customer’s needs is what drives a brand to deliver an ideal product. According to Engel, that’s what Lenovo “relies on.”
“In terms of what’s important, it really comes down to what the customer needs because it varies for every company and individual user. But, if I had to point out what’s trending in importance for our customers it would be monitors that are easier to use, better connected, extremely reliable, and more elegant in design.”
He continues: “You might be surprised, but monitors that have an RJ-45 port for a wired network connection are getting more popular, likely for the added security but also for the speed it provides in a docking setup. Companies want it to be easy for their employees to get up-and-running quickly when they get to the office, especially since so many of them are coming and going more than in previous years.”
Along with the speedy evolution of technology, we’ve seen a complete turnaround in the way we work thanks the dreaded COVID-19. So, Lenovo has been adapting to these changes, which Engel elaborates on.
“The workplace setting is changing. Over the last two years, we’ve seen a ‘professionalization’ and ‘premiumization’ of in-home technology as more people started to perform work remotely rather than in an office. This is where the elegance piece comes into play, because in addition to needing professional-grade monitors with higher refresh rates and advanced functionalities that parallel the experience they have at work, people want monitors that elevate the look and feel of their home offices.
“Since people are likely to spend more time in front of the screen when working from home, eye health must be considered. Therefore, technology like natural low blue light is important, as well as adjustable, ergonomic stands. A dynamic solution that can elevate shared workspaces in the office is another addition that is important to consider in this increasingly hybrid environment. For example, monitors like Lenovo’s interactive Large Format Displays help to enhance collaboration, learning, and creativity in small group meeting rooms, especially when others may be tuning in virtually.”
I don’t know about you, but my work-from-home setup is all about function and style, so its good that Lenovo is trying to get this right with products like its Tiny-in-One.
Should the future be modular?
With the example the Tiny-in-One has set for Lenovo for being modular, I asked Engels if Lenovo believes its the future for all forms of PCs, including laptops. After all, we’re now seeing another attempt of upgradeable laptops thanks to Framework Laptops. Virtually everything about the 13-inch (and upcoming 16-inch) model is completely swappable, leading to less e-waste and, well, more money in your pocket.
While he couldn’t speak for all of Lenovo’s products, he does have a prediction for the future of monitors:
“Lenovo has always innovated with purpose, and we create products that are designed to improve the user experiences and solve real problems and challenges. The ability to swap out components on a monitor is certainly a need in some cases that offers maintenance, productivity and even budget benefits for enterprises and small to mid-sized businesses alike.
“While I can only speak for monitors, repairability and future-proofing are trends I think we will see more of in the future.”
Case in point: the ThinkCentre TIO.
If you’re interested, the Lenovo ThinkCentre TIO Gen 5 will be available later this year in select markets globally. For now, you can check out the other ThinkCentre Tiny PCs, Towers, and monitor itself right here.