Poly Studio P5 - easily better than your laptop's webcam
With work from home looking to be a mainstay of modern workplaces (and ongoing restrictions on travel), we've been noticing how sickly we look on standard laptop webcams. There is a decent solution for better quality meetings and chat in the Poly Studio P5 external webcam.
At 1080p Full HD resolution, the P5 has a better quality image sensor than most laptops, and with its large lens, better optics for a clearer, brighter and higher contrast image. Users of devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro, which has a high quality camera, are less likely to find the P5 useful. For anyone who has a desktop monitor setup, the P5 provides the flexibility to use a monitor-mounted camera in place of their laptop webcam.
Compared to a good quality laptop webcam...
A corporate-class laptop's web cam from 2020 versus the Poly Studio P5.
Note the deeper colour in the harbour (out the window) and the reflected sky on the table, the greater contrast between the yellow and black stripes, the contrast between the two gloves, greater sharpness of the circuit pattern on the table and overall colour saturation and sharpness. The laptop webcam we've compared the P5 to is 720p, which is comparable in resolution to most corporate-class laptops laptops as of 2021.
Worthwhile for professional presenters
The difference between the murkiness of the laptop's webcam versus the P5 is clear.
If you're looking to improve the professionalism of client and corporate presentations on platforms like Teams and Zoom, the Poly Studio P5 is easy to recommend. It may also be of use for special situations including management presentations and for media engagement. When viewed on large displays and devices, including the Surface Hub 2s, the improvement in image quality is even more apparent.
The Poly Studio P5 connects via USB Type A and includes a USB pass-through port for connecting things like USB headsets (without requiring a second port from your laptop or docking station). Users of USB-C-only laptops (like the MacBook range) will need a USB-C to USB-A adapter.
It's small enough to be bundled in a laptop bag and requires no external power supply. Look and feel is retro PC-medical with a dappled cream/grey finish.
An adjustable monitor mount is included to balance the P5 on your monitor. This can be removed and substituted with a tripod (a tripod mount screw is included). Users of frameless monitors may find the standard mount can partially cover the very top of the monitor image.
The camera includes a microphone, however you may find a decent quality laptop can provide equally good, if not better audio quality and noise cancellation through its internal microphones (some experimentation is advised).
The camera also features a physical lens cover for privacy.
Poly Studio P15 - definitely bigger
The Poly Studio P15 is the bigger brother with speakers included for video conferencing without a headset.
With a 4K camera, the P15 provides even greater clarity for professional presenters where audiences will be viewing on the big screen. It also provides zoom and crop functionality to focus on the presenter. This doesn't work as smoothly as some we've seen. The P15 doesn't tend to follow people who walk and talk, and can hunt a bit when there are groups of people within a meeting room. Zooming in reduces the image resolution, which is apparent if the presenter is far from the camera.
We tried the P15 with our Surface Hub 2s, which also has a 4K camera. Both have excellent image quality and clarity, and a similar 90 degree field of view to capture a typical meeting room well. The P15 comes in handy with its zoom function when a single participant is in front of the Hub, or if you want to point a camera back at the Hub and the presenter without a full Teams Rooms setup, as long as you have a sufficiently long USB cable.
While the P5 is an easy solution for improving the quality of Teams chats and presentations, the size of the P15 makes it more likely to be more useful for permanent installation for trainers, media presentations and small, shared meeting spaces.
The P5 is likely a better solution for the rest of us.
The Poly Studio P15 connects via USB Type C (unlike the P5) and includes two USB Type A pass-through ports for connecting accessories (without using more ports on your laptop or docking station). Unlike the P5 it's designed to stay put with an external power supply and a design that's around 400mm long.
A larger adjustable monitor mount is included to balance the P15 on your monitor. Like the P5. this can be removed and substituted with a tripod (a tripod mount screw is included). Users of frameless monitors may find the standard mount can partially cover the top of the monitor image, and the P15 is not designed to be placed on a laptop screen. On a moveable device like our Surface Hub 2s, we would recommend a robust tripod style mount.
The P15 includes a microphone, and the speaker is sufficient for home office use with decent noise cancellation.
As per the P5, the camera features a physical lens cover for privacy.
The P15 uses the same retro PC-hospital style cream plastic with a mesh speaker cover.
Easy to recycle packaging a bonus
Both the Studio P5 and P15 use attractive uncoated carboard boxes with egg-crate style protective padding inside, instead of foam or polystyrene. With distinctive Poly branding on the outside, both prove that good packaging can be recyclable and protective without non-recyclable foams. For anyone looking to eliminate polystyrene from their waste streams and opt for 100% recyclable packaging, the Poly cameras tick the box. All of the packaging components are marked for easier separation and recycling.