Updated: August 7, 2021 10:14:41 pm
If you discount the new Apple iMac, there is hardly any computing device out there with a Full HD camera that is good enough for the requirements of a pandemic-induced work from home environment. And that is why peripheral makers are making a killing with external Full HD cameras that make you seen and heard in an overcrowded Zoom call. Now Poly thinks it can go a step ahead with its Studio P15 personal video bar.
The Poly Studio P15 has an award-winning design for its camera bar, essentially a neat looking but large appendage that can go on top of the PC screen or on a tripod if you are using a laptop. Being large, the P15 can house a 4K camera, with a lens as large as one in some of the recent projectors I have reviewed, a good quality microphone and even small built-in speakers which in most cases is better than what comes in your PC.
But the Poly is large and does feel like it might fall off the top of the screen where I had perched it initially. While it was perfectly in place on the screen, I was paranoid that this expressive piece of equipment might fall of the thin iMac screen. That’s when I dusted up an old tripod to find a new podium for the bar. The bar connects to your PC via a USB-C cable and needs a power adapter to start.
You can start the bar without its software by just selecting the camera from the preferences in the video app you are using. But with the app, you get the controls you need. My first reaction to the bar’s video quality was that it had a calibration issue. But once I downloaded the iMac I could switch to auto white balance and exposure to start looking more like the TV star I could never be.
The 4K camera in the P15 is pretty good. The best part of it for me was the auto-framing which kept me in focus even when I slumped back on my chair or leaned into the camera for a clear view. Also, it does these smooth zoom-ins, up to 4x, that make it look as if you have hired a professional cameraperson for your zoom calls. You can also use the Poly app to pan and tilt the camera.
However, since there is no service that supports 4K streaming the camera sticks to Full HD most of the times, unless the service is dumping it down further because of bandwidth issues. So the 4K aspect might work for those who were to record themselves for YouTube or some other service like that, but not streaming or video conferencing. Also, if the light is poor the camera does struggle a bit, for this is the sort of device made for those who like to be under the arc lights.
Another aspect of the video bar is the audio quality. Like it does with the picture, in audio too it keeps your sound in focus too. It also cuts out ambient noise to a large extent and in zoom calls my audience were unable to hear by a fan in the background.
Given that this is a good camera that can offer a wide-angle and clear audio, the P15 can also be used as a video conferencing hub, not a surprise given that this is coming from the company once called Polycom. I could not try this feature for obvious reasons.
The Poly Studio P15 is a wonderful accessory for those who spend a lot of time on video calls, and, I would say, profit from it. Because this is not a camera bar for everyone given the Rs 67,914 price tag. Still, there are those for whom it pays to be seen and heard in that video call and for them, the P15 is a winner.