We have learned since the beginning of Covid-19 that working from home requires solid collaboration tools. If you're okay with grainy 720P video and echoing audio from the built-in microphones and cameras on your PC with dogs and kids interrupting everything, then so be it. But when I am collaborating on projects and meeting with my customers, I need more reliable audio and crisp video to have a great meeting and collaboration experience. I have used other webcams solutions before from vendors like Logitech, but the poor audio quality requires a separate microphone for a useable experience. I mixed and matched with different unmanaged audio and video service providers in the past, and that can be a nightmare for crafting an excellent conferencing experience. I have tried DSLR cameras in the past, but they are costly and require additional setup and management.
I wrote about Poly bridging the gap between enterprise and consumer collaboration devices with the launch of its Poly Studio P Series. Poly sent me a Poly Studio P15 Personal Video Bar to try out, and I used it for several days while video conferencing. Let's dig into my experience.
Specs & features
To start, the Poly Studio P15 Personal Video Bar that has some of the best collaboration technology the industry has to offer. The system also includes a professional-grade price tag available now for $599.99. The Poly Studio P15 Personal Video Bar comes out of the box with certifications from Microsoft Teams and Zoom. The camera solution is impressive, shooting in 4K resolution, 90-degree field of view, and 4x electronic zoom. The powerful image sensor that Poly packed into this device will provide professional-level video performance for collaboration. There is also a built-in privacy shutter for an adding layer of privacy. If you want to have a more private conversation, you can connect a secondary headset to the device as well.
The Poly Studio P15 comes with a loud integrated speaker and multiple microphones. You will also receive a removable monitor clamp, power supply, power cord, USB-C cable, and setup sheet in the box. You can manage the Poly Studio P15 device by downloading the Poly Lens App on your desktop or notebook.
User experience- video
First off, the system comes with a 4K resolution camera with auto camera framing. The auto camera framing is an excellent feature on this device. When I moved around to either side of the frame, the Poly Studio P15 automatically reframed me into the middle of the frame and, in some instances, zoomed out to get a better view. I found this particularly helpful when I wanted to stand up during a call or shift to look at a different monitor. Either way, the Studio P15 could reframe me and make sure the other meeting attendees could see me.
Another nice video feature is the manual camera mode. This mode is particularly helpful when I am recording video podcasts. It gives users a plethora of settings including brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, backlight compensation, on-screen display, tracking mode and speed, camera movement, and frame size. Once you have your settings figured out you can save them as a preset within the Poly Lens app. I customized a couple of different presets for my use case, one for video conferencing and one for podcasting.
In the future, I’d love to see Poly add HDR and a background blur feature. Given it uses Qualcomm Snapdragon silicon, this is possible.
User experience- audio
The system also has an integrated speaker and microphone array that performed well for controlling audio levels. Noise cancellation and crisp speak matter a lot to me in a conferencing solution. When the conference audio plays out loud, it has to be crisp, and these speakers did just that for me. I was able to hear other meeting attendees very clearly throughout the duration of the conference. It's very beneficial to have the microphone and speakers on a singular device as well. It eliminates a lot of the hassle that comes with tuning different microphones and speakers on separate devices.
The system comes with NoiseBlockAI technology designed to mute outside noise from disrupting a meeting. We have all heard it, the kid yelling in the background, the person munching on a bag of chips, or the cell phone ringing obnoxiously in the middle of a call. I did a few test calls with some audio distractions, including munching on a bag of chips and letting my phone ring. In both instances, the Poly Studio P15 used NoiseBlockAI to mute the obnoxious sounds that would typically distract from the call. In some cases, it wasn't instantaneous, but after the first loud note, the audio was detected and promptly muted.
There is another piece of technology that helps create a better audio experience. Poly calls it "Acoustic Fence." In short, Acoustic Fence limits the surface area that your Poly Studio P15 will pick up the audio on either side of you. So any noise that is outside that area of the fence will be automatically muted. Acoustic Fence is beneficial when someone else is on a conference call nearby or watching TV in the next room. Although I can still hear the audio, it is helpful when I know I am not a disruption to the rest of the attendees.
In my experiences, the acoustic fence muted audio that was outside of 3 feet away on either side of me. You can manage the Acoustic Fence setting within the Poly Lens app. It has off, narrow, medium, and wide stages, which should fit a wide range of uses. It saves me much clicking on and off of mute. It still happens every day where someone on a call speaks for 30 seconds and realizes they are on mute. With Poly Studio P15, this won't be an issue.
Poly Lens is an essential piece of the puzzle for delivering a great collaboration experience. With Poly Lens, users can adjust device voice, video, and other settings in a singular place. From my experience, it doesn't get much easier than Poly Lens. Any setting you want to adjust or software update needed is in a single, easy-to-use interface. Poly Lens also makes it easy for IT managers to manage remote worker Poly devices. IT managers won't need their servers to manage the devices and easily connect and manage them via the cloud. There is also an insights dashboard that lets you know how users in your organization are using their Poly devices across the organization. You can see more details here. The insights dashboard gives IT managers a look into device usage across the organization. This includes displaying which devices are active, which are waiting to be configured, and which are configured but not in current use and reporting all the data in Poly Lens. There is also a device inventory section to help you manage your fleet of devices. This includes an image of the device, device name, MAC address, room, and device model. With the simple interface, Poly Lens should make it easy to manage all your enterprise Poly devices regardless of model or region.
All in all, I was incredibly impressed with the Poly Studio P15 Video Bar for my use case of personal video calls, video podcasting and live CNBC appearances. You need to try one of these out to believe it. The video and audio quality was incredibly crisp and clear. Poly also packs in some great features like NoiseBlockAI and Acoustic Fence, which helped create a better user experience as well as automatic features like camera centering and auto backlight. You can also finely tune manage your Poly device video and audio in the Poly Lens app. The only use case I wouldn’t recommend the P15 for are portable use cases as the unit is large.
For those business users who value a great multi-vendor collaboration experience, the Studio P15 is a great option if not the best option around. Dedicated video conferencing devices are nice but having an add-on solution that can give you professional-grade video and audio conferencing in a single solution is a game-changer. Great job, Poly.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.
Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights) in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.