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REVIEW: Poly Studio P5 Webcam – Great Ideas, Disappointing Execution

In today’s hybrid workplace, a good webcam is a must-have. Business communications specialist Poly, born from Plantronics and Polycom, has released the Studio P5 webcam, and there’s a lot to recommend it on paper – but how does it stack up in real life?

Design and Features

Design-wise, the P5 is certainly different from most of the rectangular webcams you see from manufacturers like Logitech. It has a cute bullet shape with the microphone on top, meaning the main feature you see from the front is the lens. The camera can rotate a full 360 degrees on its pivot, though can only tilt up and down by adjusting the stand itself, which is a bit of an oversight – something like a ball joint wouldn’t have gone astray here.

One instantly noticeable – and very useful – feature is the built-in lens shutter, which you can rotate the front of the camera to open or close. While closed, the red shutter is highly visible, and the fin on top of the camera lights up red; when open, the fin lights up white, and when actively in use, it lights up green. This is a great function to have, and helps mitigate the risk of any embarrassing Zoom mishaps – other manufacturers take note!

Another interesting feature can be found by popping the back cover off the camera: a USB-A port, intended for plugging in dongles to use with products such as Poly’s own range of headsets (one bundle throws in a Voyager 4220 headset with the camera).

While it does work for this purpose, it is unfortunately a very fiddly process: I tried it with another Poly headset’s dongle and it strangely didn’t seem to want to go in at all, while plugging in the dongle from the included headset required no small amount of effort to actually get out. Also, it appears to only work for these dongles – so you can’t plug a USB thumb drive into the back of your webcam, if you feel that’s something you’d want to do.

Video and Audio

The video quality on the P5 is good, comparing favourably to Logitech’s popular C920. It records in 1080p with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 80-degree field of vision, and produces clear, sharp images at 30 frames per second. I had no trouble using this camera for Zoom and Teams calls, and those on the receiving end invariably gave the image quality a thumbs up.

The microphone is, unfortunately, a different story. When turned up to 100 per cent volume, you get distortions and blowouts; at lower volumes, the sound is at least intelligible – but also muffled and muddy, like you’re listening to someone speak from the other side of a wall. I don’t know if it’s the top-mounted position or just the microphone itself that causes this, but it’s a big disappointment, and I found myself just switching back to an external mic in short order.

Verdict

There’s a lot that I like about the Poly Studio P5 – the design, the camera shutter, the built-in USB-A port for dongles – but its woeful microphone performance means I can’t seriously recommend it. If Poly just improves the audio, it’ll have a real winner on its hands, but ultimately I just left disappointed at what could have been.

Pros

  • Great video quality
  • Built-in lens shutter with indicator light
  • USB-A port for connecting headset dongles
  • Cute and compact design

Cons

  • Poor microphone performance
  • USB-A port is fiddly to connect and disconnect dongles
  • Needs better tilt capability

RATING: 6.5/10

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