Poly’s Studio P15 takes your home webcam and shoots a rocket up its clacker, launching to stratospheric heights, with features that aren’t usually seen in a personal home/office web-meeting solution.
It verges on being a small office conferencing solution, such is its size and specifications.
Its price, however, is also approaching the stratosphere, entering the market at $695- something I would need to be signed off by the minister of war and finance (ie my wife) before pulling out the credit card.
So, does the Poly Studio P15’s price match its performance? Is there a place for it in your home or office?
Appearance- beach meets business.
Aesthetically, Poly has carried on with their pebble beach-inspired body, which we first saw used in the Poly Studio P5.
It’s unique and sets the Poly range apart from the market of beige, black and grey webcams that you so typically see on peoples desks. It comes with a power supply, USB-C to USB-C cable…(YAY! USB-C!!) and a mounting bracket that easily screws into the base.
Poly calls the Studio P15 a “Personal Video Bar”, and you could be fooled into thinking that there are a couple of speakers hiding under that stylish fabric mesh, but there’s not; there’s one and a tricked out tri-beam microphone (yes- three microphones) array and “acoustic fence” technology sitting on the other side. Still, if it’s going to be perched over your screen all day, it is a pretty thing to look at.
Functionality and set up – a breeze!
Screw the base of the mounting bracket in, connect your cables up and thanks to the Studio P15’s native compatibility with Windows 10 and all the major meeting platforms, you’re ready to smash out video calls like a rockstar in ultra-high-definition glory in under two minutes…but you do need USB 3.0 for UHD.
The mounting bracket grips just about any desktop display nicely, but don’t even bother trying to mount it on your Laptop screen, that is not the P15’s intended purpose, and your screen will tip backwards- yes, I tried this. Learn from my failings, padawan!
As seen on the P5 Studio, Poly has included a manual privacy cover to give you that extra peace of mind. As I’ve said before- I’m a big fan of a manual privacy shutter, in the age of everything being hacked, nothing says security like a physical shutter.
Performance: The über-web-meeting meister.
It may be a little obvious by now but I’m not kidding around when I say the Poly P15 Studio packs a stonking repertoire of technology for a personal conferencing solution.
Under the hood is a 4K (2160p) camera that can also function at 1080p and 720p.
It performs at 30 frames per second (FPS) and has a 90-degree field of view so that it could double as a small office web conferencing device in a pinch. It also features auto digital zoom and intelligent tracking/framing.
Instantly, I notice the quality of the image compared to my colleagues using their integrated laptop cameras, and it was shall we say, night and day. The Poly Team has put a cracking 4K sensor in this camera!
The personal conference view with auto-framing technology was a bit trippy, though. During a web meeting, I leaned back in my home office chair for a moment and then saw the P15 focus on me and pull me back closer into the frame, even though I was still leaning back. Then I became distracted by it, and it became a bit of a game, with me testing it in the middle of my meeting, subtly moving back and forth in the camera’s view to see how it would respond. By default, it takes a couple of seconds after you finish moving before it pulls you back into the frame (square), but you can tweak that with the Poly Lens App to make it more responsive. It …very effective, especially if you decide to get up and walk around. Speaking of the Poly Lens App, I’d highly recommend installing it as soon as you take delivery of your Studio P15. There is a number of features you can tweak to tailor the Video Bar’s behaviour and complete firmware updates when required.
Then there’s Poly’s acoustic fence microphone technology. It uses an array of three microphones to deliver a clear voice to your audience, even if you decide to get up and walk around your office. When listening to me speak, my colleague noted that NoiseBlockAI did indeed suppress background noise and echoes, especially when I stopped talking. There was what seemed like a muted silence.
These technologies combine to deliver a comprehensive solution that allows you freedom from your desk, meaning your presence won’t be lost in the room with a 90-degree field of view, 4x digital zoom and EPTZ. ( electronic pan-tilt-zoom for the uninitiated)
My colleague, Shaun, echoed these thoughts on the P15 with whom I tested the Video Bar. He was impressed by the vivid (yes- he used the same word as me) colour and the sound quality of my voice from the tri-beam microphone array as I moved around and the intelligent tracking/auto framing feature. However, he did comment that some of the Studio P15’s could be negated by the audiences hardware capabilities and it’s a valid point. Some of this glorious technology can indeed be lost on your audience for any number of technical reasons.
You’re not left wanting on your side of the conference call, though. Poly has mounted an acoustically isolated speaker (no rattles) in the P15 that can comfortably deliver sound up to 80 decibels; the typical noise level of a conversation.
It doubles as a pretty good multimedia speaker too. Listening to Chris Isaak’s “Wicked game”, the one thing I notice in particular is how the P15’s speaker is tuned to prioritise clear voice over music, with the detail of Chris’s voice very much in front of the music. This makes sense, given the Studio P15’s intended purpose. The Studio P15 won’t blow you away with bass or treble, nor is it a rich experience, but it’s sufficient and most importantly, it also means that you’re not forced to use headphones for long stretches in calls.
Summing it up: Doing the numbers.
So, does the Poly Studio P15 tick all the boxes? Almost. It looks great and has excellent features that may be lost on some but that price point is erm…painful. Mind you, if you’re in a job role where you run training courses or seminars, the Studio P15 is easily justifiable and becomes your personal cameraman and you could potentially get your boss to foot the bill. If you’re not so fortunate but working from home frequently, or if your work requires you to be in web meetings often, this will definitely be a welcome addition to your home office. The potential tax breaks could soften the blow to your hip pocket and get it over the line with your significant other- if you
report to have one.
Thanks to the crew at Poly for loaning us the Studio P15 to test!