Hello readers. As always I hope this finds you well. Thanks for joining me for the first of, what will eventually be, several product reviews.
The first of which is on the Kuando Busylight for Microsoft Lync.
What is it?
The Kuando Busylight for Microsoft Lync is essentially a presence indicator for Lync. I know that presence is built right in to the Lync client. But this kind of product is used as an additional highly visible presence indicator for desk based staff. I’ll explain.
Why do you need one?
Imagine you’re walking around the office and want to talk to a colleague. You can see they are at their desk so you walk up and start talking to them. Only to get the familiar gesture where they point to their tiny headset, indicating that they are on a call. Not only have you interrupted your colleague but you feel, and rightly so, embarrassed for having done so. Turn that around and imagine it is you on a call, you have a tiny headset for Lync, and a colleague walks over and starts talking during your important phone call.
Haven’t you ever wished that something on your desk would glow to indicate when you’re on a call?
Now you have one
Busylight for Lync is a mostly plug and play USB peripheral which adds that glowing presence indicator to your desk.
As with the Lync client itself, Green is available, Yellow is away, Red is busy. However it doesn’t stop there. Flashing Red indicates that you’re on a call and Purple indicates do not disturb. The colors, if you were wondering, are customizable if you want to play with the registry. Personally I’m fine leaving it alone since changing the colors could quickly defeat the purpose. Remember the Jellybean for OCS?
What else can it do?
I’m glad you asked that. It isn’t just a light on a stick. I was completely surprised to find that Kuando added some very useful additional features to the product.
I should first explain that to make it workl with Lync you must download, install and run the Busylight Lync Software. This software essentially pairs the USB device to the Lync client allowing it to see and display the presence.
Once installed you will have a tray app that allows you to make changes to the alert and presence settings.
You can change Sound settings – yes the device has a built in speaker! You can set ringtones for IM Alerts. Rather than making a sound on your desktop speakers (if you have any) it uses the built in speaker at the base of the device. This speaker has an independent volume control through the tray app itself.
It isn’t a Windows Playback device, but that isn’t a problem.
Making the device flash and make a sound is more useful than I imagined. If you’re like me you have dozens of applications open and Lync is minimized. If you receive an IM and aren’t looking at the screen you might miss the toast. Even with the new Skype for Business UI, where you can choose the toast location, you still might miss it. If you hear the alert you configured it will draw your attention to it.
One thing I will say is that where there is some choice for the ringtones, there might not be enough to be truly distinct in a very crowded open plan office. Being able to customize the ringtone might be useful. And if you receive a lot of IM’s, as I do, you might get fed up with that constant ringtone every few minutes.
Choose “Suppressed” to redirect a second call to the destination for unanswered calls (as defined in your Lync client). So rather than hear call waiting and allowing the user to finish one call and answer another, this allows you to immediately offload the call to your chosen unanswered calls destination, such as voicemail.
This feature allows you to configure a hot key to answer a new Lync call or drop an active call. If you didn’t already know, Microsoft already has keyboard shortcuts built into Lync. Windows+A will “accept an incoming invite notification”. Or if you’re in a conversation window Alt+C will “Accept any of the invite notifications. These include audio, video, call, and sharing requests”. However having a dedicated, configurable key to specifically answer (or drop) a call will be useful for frequent call handlers such as reception.
Is it any good?
Short answer is yes.
Long answer is that it feels like a well built, quality bit of kit. I’ve read other reviews and I have seen images of brushed aluminum bodies. The one I received in the UK was black aluminum, although that doesn’t detract from the quality. It still feels solid.
- Kuando Busylight with around a 2.5m fixed USB cable
- Quick Guide with diagrams on how to plug it in and a URL for downloading the application.
- Double Sided sticky disk so you can stick it to your monitor, a partition or the top of a hard hat! Or perhaps the side of your large UC headset if they’re big enough.
The Kuando website also has a few extra resources to help with implementation. My favorite is a customizable sign that indicates what the colors mean.