Poly Studio P21 Is The New All-In-One Secondary Monitor That You Didn’t Know You Needed

By Patrick Moorhead - November 17, 2021
Poly Studio P21 POLY

In June of this year, Poly announced a new audio and video solutions all-in-one device that combines an enterprise-grade display, camera, microphone, and speaker in an all-in-one device that connects over USB so that you can use it with any video app from your laptop. This is sure to aid enterprise and consumer workers who work remotely and those in a hybrid schedule that will continue through 2022 and perhaps beyond that. The applications that connect our workforce require a better solution that gives an optimal experience to collaborate effectively for audio and video solutions at home or in the office.

Poly is no stranger to collaboration devices, and with the many solutions that consumer and enterprise workers rely on, Poly has met these solutions that need to be secure, manageable, and easy to troubleshoot in the field, and Poly has done just that once again. The company has a wide range of collaboration devices, including webcams, headphones, headsets, and displays. The company is focused on improving the conferencing and collab experience in an open approach. A significant plus for consumer and enterprise workers is that Poly devices consistently allow companies and end-users to use Poly for many certified Zoom and Microsoft Team experiences.  The rapid adoption of a work-from-home environment is driving the need for better audio and video conferencing devices. 

Let's dive in.

What's in the box? Microphone & Display

  • Monitor stand21.5 inches, 1080P monitor 
  • Quick Start Guide
  • AC Power Adapter and cord 
  • 5-foot USB-C to USB-C (with USB-A converter included) cable.

The monitor and stand were simple to set up. You will find the enterprise-grade built-in camera on the top of the display, along with the bezel. The camera is complemented with a shutter for privacy mode, the display, and a stereo speaker and microphone. Once the computer powers on, full disclosure, it is essential to download the 'poly lens software' and a 'display linked graphic.' This provides you the driver to download the display. If you do not download the driver, you'll have a display that won't show anything on it.  

Once your device has downloaded the necessary drivers and all updates are finished as well, then you will see the enterprise-grade 21.5-inch display delivering 1080p HD quality brightness and camera optics that provide vibrant colors with a zoom in up to 4 times to frame you just right. Most of Poly's advertising suggests that you use it as a second monitor, so the chances are that it won't be much of a win for framerates compared to a gaming monitor, but I feel that's okay. This device is clearly for enterprise and consumer workers in an office or personal use setting where you are using various spreadsheets or video applications than playing Call of Duty Warzone. The crisp display was more than enough for me to feel that I immediately received the bang for the buck. 

On the bottom left bezel of the display, you will find a 'Rocket Button.' This opens up various settings that allow you to adjust the video, change settings, 'hold or resume a call,' 'play or pause,' 'status lights,' such as the 'vanity' display like to change it from 'cool' or 'warm' settings. You will find a 'Microsoft Teams' button to the right of the' Rocket Button. This launches the 'Microsoft Teams' software. This makes the process easier when many tabs are open. In the middle of the display bezel, you will find the 'plus and minus volume buttons placed between the 'mute' button. When you mute your microphone, the below green vanity light turns to red to indicate when you are mute or not. When the volume is reduced or increased, you will see the blue light sensor to show which volume setting it is currently on. Additionally, the displays use a USB-C plugin with an additional two 3.0 ports, with the other side using a USB-A converter if needed to a USB-C along with the power plug with a Kensington lock to keep it secure a 3.5mm jack for external audio outputs.  

Poly Studio P21 Wireless Charging and Vanity Display) POLY

Adjustment on the vanity light is easy. You move your hand down on the back right of the display to reduce or increase the vanity light power. Even at full strength, I found that the vanity lights didn't blind me in the process, especially in a very dim or darkroom. They did the job when on Zoom calls or just when testing out the camera in various conditions. I feel the lights could have been a bit stronger, but that is just a personal preference. 

There is a built-in wireless charger, which I haven't seen anything like in comparison to any other manufacturer for a type of all-in-one video conferencing solution. Just plug into a laptop with a USB cable, and you have everything you would need for video conferencing right from this device. You can use it as a dedicated monitor for video conferencing or use it as your secondary display and solely for video conferencing capabilities built into this display. You will have an overall better video conferencing experience and better versatility. It is worth considering when looking for a solution like this.

Video Quality and Settings

The Poly Studio P21 has many features with its adjustable dynamic, and vibrant display, integrated microphone and speakers, USB-C to USB-C and USB-A converter single USB cable, built-in camera, integrated microphone and speakers, and even a wireless phone charging stand in the base. The Poly Studio P21 even supports any video app that runs natively on PC or Mac devices, which is a big deal. Within Studio P21, you have various options to change your video quality settings, such as contrast, hue, saturation, sharpness, and much more. Given the ability to create 'favorites' for yourself or others may use the device as well. Under the 'General Button,' you have the 'Rocket Button' located under the' General Button,' which can also be customized for several different tasks.

The 'App Button' is found below to choose Zoom or Microsoft teams as the primary video meeting application. The video application makes it easy to make calls but pulls up your favorite video app. It can be set up for Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or other applications from Poly partners. This support is essential for me because I don't only use Zoom and Teams, as I am sure many of you reading this article don't as well. Many use multiple other video applications, such as Skype, WebEx, and Google Hangouts. Like the other devices, the settings on the Poly Studio P21 are also customizable within the Poly Lens Desktop app.

The Poly Studio P21 is a conferencing display that provides all the features one would ever need for an incredible video conferencing experience especially compared to using most laptops without an external means of audio input and output along with an external webcam. The 21-inch display has a camera built into the top and as well as speakers. After all, we all want to look good in our meetings. I feel this particular display device could be solely premium and seamless, meant for great video conferencing on its own.

Poly P21 POLY

All-in-all of the Poly Studio P21 

The all-in-one monitor encompassing the enterprise-grade speaker, microphone, display, and camera retails for $815.00. If you have ever tried to use traditional audio from a webcam and even some laptop cameras, you know most have notoriously poor audio and visual quality. The Studio P21 should be a big step up from your typical mirror display or second monitor, whichever way you choose to utilize it. When purchasing these as separate devices, all-in-all would run a display for around $300, a webcam would retail for about $200-300, and lastly, the speaker would cost between $100-$200.00. All of this baked into one display that uses a single USB-C (check on that) plugs into your laptop while providing additional ports; I would find this an excellent value to make it easy to manage and deploy applications. Primarily, I found the extra ports to be a significant selling point for me, and the wireless charging as my MacBook Pro 13 M1 lacks the additional ports that I need.

When testing out the Poly speakers compared to my Apple 13 Pro M1 speakers, the bass on the P21 compared to my Apple MacBook Pro 13 M1 was impressive as a mirrored display, and you could hear the variety of bass and treble with the eclectic music playing. It was fantastic and didn't disappoint. It wasn't surprising once it came around to the MacBook that it was inferior despite its laptop lacking in sound quality compared to the voice audio and bass. 

The P21 is going to recognize any laptop as a secondary or mirrored display. One of the features that amps of the video experience are the integrated ambient lighting. Making sure you are well lit is essential to look your best on video. With the number of interviews I have, this will be a game-changer. The Poly P21 uses defused and direct lightning that helps you illuminate without the lightning being overpowering. Even incomplete darkroom, I wasn't blinded by the monitor. Do note that the vanity light will turn on automatically when you begin a video meeting.

Finally, having control of your video is essential. The Poly P21 comes with a camera privacy shutter, so you're always in charge of when your video is shown, which is necessary to me. The integrated buttons make it easy to control the experience, and I never ran into issues, such as the latency of the time you press the 'Microsoft Teams' button on display until the video software being launched wasn't delayed in the slightest. It was impressive. Volume and mute are easy to access without having to mouse over to your video application. The stand even has a wireless phone charger built right in. So, as we all can relate, running and back and forth between meetings, if in a hybrid environment or back into the office full-time, you can drop your wireless device on the stand to begin charging on the pad to give it some juice. 

Wrapping up

Overall, I am impressed by this unique device and didn't have the slightest issue working. It's simple to set up and easier to use. The new Poly Studio P21 Personal Meeting Display marries those two focuses and retails for $815.00. Poly continues to launch some great devices with the Studio P Series. Displays, webcams, and d audio devices are essential for collaboration, and this device has made the experience easier for consumers and enterprise workers alike remotely or within the workplace. At first glance, it looks as though it may lack the widescreen sensibilities and esthetic of new monitors. However, as you look past that minimal factor, you'll find this display to have a sharp and vibrant secondary or mirrored monitor with a built-in webcam with a privacy shutter that shouldn't be looked past esthetically that provides full-fidelity stereo speakers and an advanced microphone. The ambient lights are found on both the left and right sides of the display to keep your face and the top half of your body well lit. 

Theoretically, you're ready to go for any virtual call right out of the box. If any changes were to be made, I would have liked to have the viability to tilt the webcam instead of solely relying on the display to change how I am displayed to others, plus Poly would be the first to market that. Additionally, having the monitor plugged in while my laptop is being used as the primary display would have been nice to have it charging simultaneously as I am plugged into the Poly Studio P21.

Poly looks laser-focused on improving collaboration with its news devices. Hardware and software are equally approached to pull this off, and the company has established a deep partnership with collaboration giants like Microsoft Teams and Zoom to continue creating a better user experience. For those spending multiple hours a day on video calls or who need a more budget-friendly device with fantastic hardware for all your needs to be met, Poly Studio P21 would provide some serious value to consumers and enterprise workers like you.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article. 

Patrick Moorhead
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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.