Poly Sync 20 Review: Smart Speakerphone For Hybrid Work

By Patrick Moorhead - January 16, 2021
Poly Sync 20 connected to IOS device 

On November 12th, Poly announced the availability of the Microsoft Teams-certified Poly Sync 20, a smart wireless speakerphone designed for working from home. The Poly Sync 20 is a portable device designed to make audio and communication easier and more conducive to the new, hybrid work environment. It connects wirelessly through Bluetooth to both a smartphone and PC or it can be connected through the attached USB-A cord. 

If you'll remember from earlier this year, I wrote a blog on Poly and Microsoft's collaboration products and partnership announcement in May when it launched Room Solutions, Poly Studio, Eagle Eye, and Microsoft-Teams certified headsets. Poly was the first to market with both Zoom and Teams certification, which is important because it gives enterprises the freedom to choose between multiple service vendors without the hassle of having to change its hardware or management tools. Certification gives the highest level of experience and QoS guarantee for the specific service.

Initial thoughts and experience 

Poly sent me a Poly Sync 20 USB-A model to review. At first glance, the product looks compact enough to transport around in my backpack as I move to and from work environments. The Poly Sync 20 comes with a lanyard to emphasize how portable the product can be. The instructions included with the product seem simple and easy to use. 

The Poly Sync 20 has a physical power button, a USB port, volume controls, a mute button, and a customize feature with Poly Software. The product does not come fully charged, and online, it says to hit full charge, it took me 4 hours to charge the device and the battery last up to 20 hours. The device can be charged through the permanently connected 715mm USB-A cord that lives on the bottom of the device and conveniently can be wrapped up when not using. It charges by plugging it into a charging cable or into a PC. as hard to tell when the product hit full charge, as no light would come on other than when plugging into the USB-A power adapter. Once I downloaded the Poly software to my smartphone and PC through the app store and the Poly Software linkthat is included in the instructions booklet, I was able to see what charge percentage my device was at. To power the device on, I had to hold the power button down for a few seconds. I made the mistake of pressing the button multiple times, trying to turn the device on.

I highly recommend downloading the Poly software onto all devices. For my smartphones, MacOS, and Windows devices, I downloaded the Plantronics Hub app. It only took a few seconds to pair the device to my phone through Bluetooth. Once connected to the app, every time I joined a call, the device would automatically connect to the audio of the call I joined, whether in Teams or Zoom. I also tested some of the calling capabilities, and here was my experience. On its website, Poly claims that the device picks up audio from 7 feet away, and when I tested this, it was accurate. I could walk around the whole room, and the device would still pick up my voice at an average volume, without me having to raise my voice as I usually do on regular speakerphone. There is also a light bar on the Poly Sync 20 that the light remains white when the product turns on. When you are getting an incoming call or in a call, the light is green. This feature helped notify me of when I needed to get on a call. 

Two of my favorite features of the Poly Sync 20 are the ability to play music and move around during calls. The audio sounds impressive and can get extremely loud. According to the Poly website, the Poly Sync 20 has Loudspeakers 1 x 40 mm high-performance music speaker, a loudspeaker frequency response of 80 Hz to 20 kHz, and even bass reflex with dual passive radiators. It makes working fun to switch from calls to playing some background music easily. I loved being able to freely walk around the room during calls without having headphones stuck in my ears. This feature helps takes an element that we usually get only from meeting in person and brought it into my office.

Comparison of the Poly Sync 20, 40, and 60 speakerphones

The Poly Sync 40 and Poly Sync 60 both have not been released yet, and online, it says it is coming soon. Poly is targeting the Sync 20 is for enterprise professionals who have hybrid work styles. The Poly Sync 40 is best for "flexible workspaces and huddle room where users bring its own devices." This model has USB-A and USB-C cables, two light status bars, a mic pickup range of 8 ft, and up to 30 hours of battery life. It also comes with a charging stand, desk mount, and a BT600 Bluetooth USB adapter. The Poly Sync 60 is ideal for "small to medium conference rooms where users bring its own devices" (Poly). This model is similar to the 40, except it has six built in microphones versus 3, has a mic pickup range of 10 ft, has AC power mode, and has two smartphone chargers. Some models of the Poly Sync 20 seem to have a Microsoft Teams logo button on the front of the device. My Poly Sync 20 USB-A model did not come with one, but I am interested to see what that button does. This product starts at $169 and goes up to $199 varying on the model. 

Wrapping Up

Overall, I enjoyed my experience with the Poly Sync 20 speaker. I was a bit skeptical at first, as many collaboration products promise to make hybrid work more collaborative, but this product genuinely surprised me with its simplicity, portability, and compactness. Another significant value-add is the ability to work with a wide range of platforms, including Teams and Zoom. With hybrid and work from home environments continuing to play a huge role in the working experience, the Poly Sync 40 and Poly Sync 60 are coming just at the right time. Poly seems committed to improving the work from home experience by launching collaboration devices, and the team is executing well. After using the Poly Sync 20 speaker, I look forward to testing the next round of Poly Sync devices soon.

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.