Poly Studio P5 Review
Poly Studio P5 Review
After the great web camera shortage ended, a plethora of webcams arrived on the market, many of them costing hundreds of dollars. Unless the use case calls for a 4K, multi-person, head tracking set-up, then a humble webcam will do the job. But that webcam should at least support low-light conditions with a 1080p feed.
It would be nice if the webcam brought a little character to the environment. The Poly Studio P5 does just that.
What we like
Many webcams lean into the futuristic design to the point of cliche. Shiny black carapaces punctuated by white LEDs that brighten faces or blue ones that signal status. The Poly Studio P5 isn’t that. It isn’t a webcam from a high-tech sci-fi flick; it derives more from the organic alien camp, not quite horror, but seemingly not of this world.
The plastic case embeds flecks of color over its mottled, squid-shaped surface. Rather than a simple slider or a cap over the lens, a twist of the camera bezel and the orange privacy shutter slams shut like a membrane closing over an important orifice. A green LED indicates camera availability.
The Poly Studio P5 will appeal to those who lean toward the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright or Antoni Gaudí.
But cameras don’t deliver without optical features.
Opening the privacy shutter reveals a 1080p camera with good low light features, though the best performance requires the Poly Lens software to complement on-camera processing.
Poly Lens adjusts for many video feed attributes including brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, gain, focus, white balance, exposure, etc., along with zoom. The Poly Lens app also manages firmware updates. I optimized my camera for a bright Seattle day and was able to save that setting. Saving configurations is a very good feature for people who move through different lighting conditions.
The camera captures an 80-degree field of view.
I found Studio 5’s images clear and the field of view expansive. On occasion, I zoom in to show less of my office, but I usually leave it as default. This camera will broadcast “professional” to those viewing the feed.
But Poly’s unique features did not end with external design. The tapered rear of the Poly Studio 5 opens to a port where a transceiver docks to integrate a Poly headset—nice synergy from the recent tech merger with Plantronics. Very clever for port-starved devices like my older 12” MacBook, but also a great way to ensure all the pieces move when redeploying the camera to another device.
The microphone seems fine, though I only tested it briefly. I have a large microphone with a wind guard that overrides all of my camera or built-in microphones when in my home office.
Overall, Poly combined solid optics with a unique design that still works in a familiar way.
What could be improved
For a sub-$80 camera, Poly ticks all the boxes with the Studio P5, in fact, as noted above, the device resets the boxes, at least for its unique design.
I do, however, have one continuing issue with the Poly Lens software I would like to see resolved. The camera often fails to show an image in the preview pane of the software on launch. I just get a grey box on my M1 Mac Mini running macOS Monterey 12.6.
The issue is not consistent, and I think it may have something to do with permissions, but the Security settings clearly show Poly Lens with permission to access the camera (though it does put up a red banner saying that it doesn’t have permission). On some days it seems to work fine. That said, it doesn’t report an error, and the controls all appear live; there just isn’t a live image to evaluate the effect of changes.
I have also had Poly Lens crash a few times. I sent the reports to Apple and hope they pass them on to Poly.
To take one step up, integrated forward facial lighting would round out the features set.
Poly Studio P5: The Bottom Line
It’s time to shake up accessory design. The Poly Studio P5 may not be revolutionary as it’s still a webcam that hangs over a laptop screen or standalone display—but once deployed, it’s noticeably different from most other webcams. From color to shape, to privacy shutter design, the Studio P5 stands apart from its peers. At less than $80, the Poly Studio P5 organic design and outstanding optics offer a distinctive take on value.
Poly provided the Studio P5 for review. Images courtesy of Poly.
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