Earlier this month, Poly launched two new pro-grade collaboration devices, the Poly Studio R30 and the Poly Sync 10, to improve collaboration experiences in a hybrid work environment. As of late, many Fortune 500 companies continue to roll out a global return to office plans. Even with a return to the office being imminent, the future of work continues to look hybrid in nature which puts a lot of pressure on enterprises to create good collaboration experiences between in-person and remote workers. As I said a year ago, hybrid will be harder than remote or on-site. It’s challenging to make an excellent remote experience where employees feel engaged while outside the office.
It has been great to be back in person, attend events, and interact with customers, but collaboration devices ensure I can instantly connect with my employees and customers when working in my Austin office. I have tested and written about plenty of Poly collaboration devices over the last few years and, generally, have had a good experience with them. I wrote a review on the Poly Sync 20 late last year, and you can read the piece here. I also wrote about how Poly was first to market with Teams and Zoom certifications for devices, and you can read that piece here. Let’s dig into the new device announcements from Poly and what it means for hybrid work.
Collaboration challenges in a hybrid environment
One of the challenges of a hybrid work environment is producing a quality and consistent conferencing experience across many different room sizes and settings. There isn’t a one size fits all collaboration solution as each room is a different size and has different acoustics. Whether in your home office or the business office, each conferencing space needs custom audio and video solutions specifically designed for it. Poly has been committed to solving the nuisance that varying audio and video environments bring. It’s not an issue that is solvable with hardware alone, as intelligent software for managing cameras and audio is equally important.
Poly Studio R30
The new Poly Studio R30 is built for huddle rooms or small group spaces, two terms that Poly uses interchangeably. Since huddle rooms are usually cramped for space, users need a wide-angle camera to get multiple subjects in the frame, and Poly has done it with the Studio R30. The Poly Studio R30 is already certified for Zoom meetings, with Microsoft Teams certification coming in June. Let’s look at some of the specs that make this an ideal huddle room solution.
Poly Studio R30 Specs:
● 4K camera with a 120-degree field of view at 30 FPS
● Poly DirectorAI smart camera technology for framing subjects and tracking presenters
● Advanced audio with NoiseBlock AI and Acoustic Fence to block-out unwanted background noise
● WiFi device capabilities for remote IT management
● End-users have the option to personalize settings for their workspace.
The first thing that sticks out to me regarding the Poly Studio R30 is the 4K video with 120 FOV. The large FOV can squeeze all participants into the frame, which has been a challenge in the huddle room in the past. Depending on what settings the user prefers, Poly DirectorAI can frame everyone in the room, frame an individual speaker, or track a presenter. Although most video call solutions are unable to stream in 4K as of writing this, the Studio R30 shoots in 4K so that when using DirectorAI features in 4x electrical zoom, the camera can track with clarity.
DirectorAI is designed for groups and includes features that make video conferencing more inclusive to those within the room and on video. It includes Poly’s Acoustic Fence, NoiseBlockAI. The Acoustic Fence makes it to where only voices within a certain area around the Studio R30 are picked up. I saw a demo of Acoustic Fencing from Poly and I was really impressed by how well it muted the voice of the speaker mid-sentence whenever he walked outside of the Acoustic Fence. DirectorAI also brings group framing, speaker framing, and presenter tracking features.
A common theme that I have seen within the digital transformation of businesses, in this case of how businesses conduct meetings, is that technologies like video conferencing are not here to simply mimic the legacy way of doing meetings. It is here to make it better and overall a more productive experience for all parties. For video conferencing, the challenge comes from the diversity in hybrid workflows, and I believe that is what Poly is accomplishing with many of its DirectorAI features. I understand how boring and unengaging meetings have become because there is only one model within the video call meeting: sharing your screen and running through a PowerPoint. With presenter mode, the camera follows the presenter, allowing the presenter to do more on their side of the camera within a presentation. I believe this allows the presenter to present more as they walk around the room, expressing more nonverbal body language.
I believe the R30 has its place within the Poly video bar portfolio. It is a more customizable experience than the X30 for larger rooms than what the P15 can offer and more affordable and fitting to smaller rooms than the Studio(USB). The Studio(USB) originally covered the small to medium-sized room solution within the Poly video bar portfolio. Poly’s decision to market the Studio(USB) only as a medium-sized room solution to then fill the small-sized room gap with the Studio R30 is overall strategic. I believe it is easier for businesses to decide on what to get based on room needs. I will say, I don’t think Poly should limit the Studio(USB) to only medium rooms but rather market it as a small room video solution to those who may scale rooms in the future.
The price for the new Poly Studio R30 is $799.99. A small room kit is available for Microsoft Teams Rooms for $2,099.
Poly Sync 10
The second product that Poly launched was the Poly Sync 10 USB speakerphone. I was excited to see this device added to the Sync lineup because I tested its big brother, the Poly Sync 20, over a year ago. You can read my full review here. The new speakerphone comes with USB-A or USB-C, depending on the model and Bluetooth. Poly says that the intelligent microphones within the Poly Sync 10 are built for tracking the speaker and not the noise.
Poly Sync 10 Specs:
● Crisp Audio
● Two-in-one portable speakerphone and music speaker
● Plug and play USB-A with a USB-C adapter
● Status lightbar
● IP64 protection for dust and water resistance
● Slim portable design
I usually opt for a pair of Bluetooth headphones with noise cancellation for conferencing in hotels or anywhere outside of my typical office setup, but I see the utility in having a speaker that can pick up your voice from 7 feet away and allow you to conference without covering your ears. I like that when I connect to a Zoom or Teams call, the device automatically joins the conference. There is also a light bar that indicates if you are in a meeting. The Poly Sync 10 is a smaller, more portable version within the Sync lineup that includes the Sync 20, Sync 40, and Sync 60. I believe there is a need for a portable conferencing speaker with long battery life.
I believe Poly made the Sync 10, expecting people to travel with it. It is even more compact than the Sync 20, which in my opinion, was a great size for a personal office. It is IP64 dust and water-resistant, making it a versatile little device. I would be interested to see how well this device performs on the road. It obviously wouldn’t work on the plane, but I imagine using it in a hotel room with a laptop. If Poly wanted to take this doubling-up as a speaker seriously, I could see it including a battery so that it doesn’t have to hug a wall to be used as a speaker.
It has support for Poly Lens, has a dedicated Teams button, and is certified with Microsoft Teams and Zoom. It has one 50mm high-performance music speaker and a two microphone steerable array, a larger speaker than the Sync 20. Poly says it doubles as a speakerphone and a music speaker, which I find believable from my experience with the Sync 20 and intriguing. I imagine it replacing a speaker I would bring in my bag on trips, and rather than adding on to my full back of devices, it would simply replace it.
The Poly Sync 10 USB speaker is available for purchase now for $99.99.
I like the direction that Poly is taking its Video conferencing solutions in that it is providing a solution for the various ways we work and collaborate in the hybrid world. The Studio R30 bumps the Studio (USB) into the medium room tier while steering clear of the Studio X30’s target market as an all-in-one solution. Alongside DirectorAI and its partnerships with Microsoft Teams and Zoom, it is hard to complain about Ploy’s full lineup of video conferencing solutions.
I am most interested in trying out the Sync 10 on the road. Seeing how Poly has made it an even more compact Sync 20 with a larger speaker, I think it would be a useful addition to my traveling workflow. Poly continues to improve on its collaboration devices, and the Poly Studio R30 and Sync 10 are no different.