The office may still be open, but homeworking has come to stay. So you need a good camera to look colleagues in the eye as those days are numbered where one could count on everyone always being present at the same address.
American Poly specializes in digital office equipment. We have previously tested the Poly Studio P15, which was a combination of webcam and speaker. Poly Studio P5 is a slightly more conventional webcam of the type that is clipped onto the top of the computer screen. However, the camera can also be mounted on a tripod.
Poly Studio P5 is a small neat case in aerodynamic design. The material is plastic in a gray-white mottled color that usually signals ocean-recovered plastic. Whether this is the case, however, is not mentioned anywhere on the website or product sheet.
The connection is made with a fixed USB-A cable. In an age where the USB-A port has become an endangered species, having a replaceable cable would have been a bonus, so one could opt for USB-C on newer computers that often have only one old-fashioned USB port.
However, Poly helps a bit on solving the port congestion by having a USB-A port in the back of the camera itself. Mounting a USB cable behind the camera would be a clumsy solution, but a USB dongle for a wireless mouse can fit nicely in the camera’s USB port.
Poly Studio P5 covers a diagonal viewing angle of 78 degrees. This is roughly equivalent to a 28 mm wide-angle optics in the analog 35 mm film world. It is an excellent viewing angle for the home office.
To prevent hackers watching via the webcam (and not least to dispel the worry that this might happen), the Poly Studio P5 is equipped with a physical closing mechanism. And unlike the usual slap-on plastic covers, the shutter is built into the camera itself. When you rotate a ring in front of the lens, an iris aperture blocks the lens while disconnecting it. This is a pretty elegant solution.
No aperture figures are given for the P5, but compared to the Razer Kiyo Pro and Logitech Brio 4K, which in all fairness are both more expensive, the picture seems a bit grainy and with some image noise. And that was in normal living room lighting on a not too gray day.
Poly’s camera app is called PolyLens. Unlike several other webcams, you are not automatically suggested to download the app when the camera is installed, but it can be downloaded from the Polys website.
The app offers brightness adjustment, color balance, gamma correction and more. However, the interface is old-fashioned and cumbersome, and the app does not really add any features to the camera that are useful in everyday life. And you will be looking in vain for advanced video and recording features.
In fairness, fine-tuning the camera settings is something that will be of little interest for the majority who just need to use the camera to talk to colleagues via Zoom or Teams. Therefore, you can without worry skip the app alltogether.Unless the IT manager at work requires it. Since Poly are specialists in business solutions, Poly Lens can be remotely managed by the IT department.
Poly Studio P5 is a relatively good webcam at a relatively reasonable price. It’s significantly better than the cheapest separate cameras – and miles above the pitiful, rice-grain sized pieces of glass and silicon that are in most laptops. With it, you can attend online meetings on a roughly equal footing with the people at headquarters.
Compared to other cameras, however, the Poly Studio P5 falls short on the range of features, and the image quality could also be better in everyday lighting conditions. The app does not offer much help either.
If you want more than just looking good at online meetings, look for a slightly more advanced camera, such as the Logitech StreamCam or Razer Kiyo Pro. On the other hand, they are also more expensive – and for everyday life in the home office, this camera is a good solution.