Review: Poly Studio P15

Earlier this summer I managed to get one Microsoft Teams certified Poly Studio P15 personal video bar to for testing. Poly Studio P15 is one those devices meant for hybrid work scenarios especially in personal use or in a huddle space. Integrated with tracking & zooming 4K camera, microphones and speakers it is a solid pack that you connect with USB to your computer. Typical scenarios would be to equip some office rooms (or small meeting rooms) with this device and then let users plug in Studio P15 to their laptop or using a fixed meeting room computer that has it installed. Studio P15 is not a Teams Room device – instead it is just like any other Personal video bar (webcam + microphone + speaker) device you can plug in to your computer. Or perhaps not just like any other since it packs some nice features I haven’t seen on other devices.

  • Automatic camera tracking and framing. Even if you move in a room the camera can track you and adjust the zoom & tracking.
  • You can adjust tracking speed as well as frame size and panning features
  • Comes with Noise Block AI and Acoustic Fence to keep other noises off (and there is still Teams Noise Cancellation available on top of those)
  • 4K Camera with 90 degrees field of vision
  • 3-element beamforming microphone array
  • Speaker
  • Microsoft Teams certified
  • Integrated privacy shutter
  • Check more tech specs on Poly site.

Testing Studio P15 out

I only tested this one at my home office for now – so all my views are from a single user perspective. Thus I can’t say how well this would work in a small meeting room with multiple people in it. And obviously I tested it only with Microsoft Teams meetings.

This device has it’s own power source – it is not powered by USB. It has a really good foot/attachment piece that lands it on top a monitor very well. You can alternatively attach it to a tripod or other stand. I found out that the USB cord ( I got USB-C version, which is 1.6 meters) was a bit short to my needs – this is intended to be surprisingly close to USB ports. This is something to note if the device is installed at a meeting room.

The integrated privacy shutter is really good and LED light lets you know the status as well (white, green, red).

Microphone quite good when sitting close to the device. When I tried walking around the room it can’t follow you that well. Initially I hoped I could use this to make presentations standing up and perhaps a bit of walking in the room but to do that I would have to use a microphone. It doesn’t surprise me though. The price tag goes higher on those Room devices that has a zooming microphone capable of catching speech from a longer distance. It has to be kept in mind that P15 comes with a Noise Block AI and Acoustic Fence that tries to create a virtual audio bubble around you to reduce noises that come from outside the bubble. That can explain the limited range quite well.

The camera does a decent job when tracking me. If I walk in the room it is not that fast to follow: a few strange moments with tracking will occur but overall if you don’t jump around too much it does an ok job. Usually I do my presentations sitting on a chair so it will track me most of the time very well. Sometimes it does zoom too much but after a few moments P15 does sort it out by itself. Perhaps it will also feel a bit more living experience for attendees. With 90 degree field of vision you can also move quite a lot in your room if you wish to.

The speaker is not for music. Not at all. This one is only for calls and meetings. What I didn’t like is that the P15 is always on – I can not switch it off without plugging it off. With the privacy shield it isn’t that bad, except that when you boot or turn off your computer the bar makes a sound. And since you usually have been using it for calls the volume is not that small. This is something I need to keep in my mind when I work late at night and turn off or reboot my computer.. In meeting rooms, where this device would be a hot-swap device, this isn’t an issue and the sounds makes it clear when it is connected and when it is turned off.

Device picture from Poly site.

Camera quality isn’t as good as Logitech Brio but it is better than other webcams I have used. The differences come with lighting conditions, lowlight / hard backlight (the sun) for example. The tracking and wide angle makes is a very versatile on camera-side. Thinking meetings rooms usually lighting conditions are not changing, unlike at home office. Despite pointing out these minor details, it is good to keep in mind that overall the camera is very good.

Due to tracking the image won’t be as stable / fixed to other attendees and that can be either a good or bad thing. In meetings I think it adds for the live feeling – and you can move around more freely which is a really good thing – but in webinars and sessions you might want to make it more stable. If you have a chance to set up a studio where you can stand and move a bit (withing microphone range) this is really a spot on feature.

Conclusion

Poly Studio P15 is one of those devices that is addressing world’s need for hybrid work (=as in people working flexibly at home/office and a lot more people are working from different locations): ability to make meetings easier and supporting different situations and needs.

What I hoped from this, is that I could be delivering some presentations when standing up / walking slightly. After a few quick tests I noticed that the tracking doesn’t support it that well: it is a bit slow to respond and track. So it doesn’t support switching from sitting to standing that well. It could work in a meeting, but when delivering a presentation or webinar it lacks the speed and accuracy. And then there is the matter of microphone capture distance / area – of course this one could be tackled with an external microphone. Probably I was trying to extend device capabilities a bit too much when trying to do a walking around presentation mode – that kind of support has not been mentioned by Poly. Standing but not moving around is something that works quite well.

Where P15 excels is using it as a personal device. The combined camera + microphone + speaker makes it a quality hot-swap device for small meeting rooms where it can be plugged in to laptop. I like the build-in privacy-shield as well and video is 4K with tracking and zooming camera. The monitor “stand” is also a very good one – or you can mount the P15 to a tripod, for example.

A bit low angle photo here – to show it balances nicely on top of monitor but also that it can track downwards quite nicely too.

Poly Studio P15 is listed as $599 at Poly’s site (roughly 600€ ) . The question is: is it worth the price? The answer is: it depends.

If you want to equip your small meeting rooms / huddle spaces with a device packing all features this is a good choice: users don’t have to go through the trouble of selecting different video and audio devices. Studio P15 is a Microsoft Teams certified device which makes it really easy to use as a hot-swap device: no need to spend time with settings when you join the meeting: just plug it in, do a quick check and start using it (of course all company computers should have Poly Lens installed or perhaps IT wants to use it’s organizational version to manage devices) .

If you think this one for home use then it is quite pricey. But is it that expensive if you buy it as an alternative to a professional headset and a 4K webcam (unless you need a headset anyway, of course). I see Studio P15 is best suited for small meetings rooms or huddle / hot-swap spaces or higher-end home offices that can use a neat setup with just two cables (power and USB).

I have noticed I usually chose to P15 over other microphones or headsets as long as I was alone at home (usually during my working hours). It just works nicely for meetings (for music: use a other device).

I got this device from Poly for testing purposes.

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