Whether you're working from home, or you're still in the office but collaborating with far-flung colleagues, there’s no doubt video-conferencing is here to stay and is no longer the exclusive domain of the boardroom. In fact, it’s more personal than ever with Teams, Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, you name it, being used to bring us all into group chats here, there, and everywhere.
Your laptop built-in webcam may not be the best for the job; if you use external monitors the webcam might be pointed at the side of your face. Or, if you use your laptop panel the camera might be pointing up under your chin. It’s said the camera adds 10 pounds - if so I must have multiple cameras shining on me and they’re not helping frame me like the dynamic, dapper, executive I want to look like.
At the same time, your earbuds or computer speaker and microphone aren’t necessarily doing you any favours. How much of your meeting time is spent saying, “can you hear me?” or “can you say that again? It cut out for a moment.”
I could go on but we all know the problems - video-conferencing, even audio-conferencing, is not going away and, in my experience, I’ve got more meetings now than I did in pre-pandemic times.
If you're like me, Poly has come to your aid; the P15 video bar is a personal camera, speaker, and microphone set that sits nicely on top of your monitor and plugs directly into your computer, allowing you to use it with any app you’re already using.
However, it's no mere camera, speaker, and microphone, but instead supercharges your capabilities.
The camera brings 4K resolution, a 90-degree field of view, and 4x electronic zoom. It features automatic camera framing to keep you front and centre no matter how passionate and animated - or how fidgety and restless - you are. You can move and keep your energy up, keeping your audience engaged, without fear of stepping out of the spotlight. You’re not glued to your chair. You can even simply stand up and stretch if need be. The colours are sharp and vibrant, and there’s a physical privacy shutter to give the confidence you’re not on screen if you don’t want to be.
The speaker is loud and clear, eliminating fuzzy audio entirely. The microphone array similarly follows your motion so you’re always picked up precisely no matter where you turn your head.
Poly has a long and extensive history of acoustic innovation. The company has long supplied boardrooms and conference rooms with speakerphones, let alone its many handsets and headsets. Poly is also the company that put the first headset on the moon. The Poly P15 taps into this rich depth of experience to provide a stunning audio experience for both yourself and your listeners. The P15 includes acoustic fence technology and noise blocking artificial intelligence to remove distracting noises, side conversations, your dog’s barking, or whatever else is going on around you. You can speak with confidence.
The P15 video bar plugs into power and into your computer via USB, supporting Windows and macOS equally well, and with any and all video conferencing service you use. It includes volume and mute buttons, and two additional USB ports. As well as mounting on your monitor, it is ready to sit on a tripod if you have one, for more portable usage.
iTWire trialled a Poly P15 for a month, and it was a pleasure to use. Installation was effortless, and the video and audio quality it brought to meetings were immediately apparent - crisp audio, sharp video, and all sorts of potential embarrassments were eliminated thanks to the automated focusing and the noise cancellation features.
iTWire has explored other video bars; on the one hand, competing products have built-in software so you can use the video bar on a dumb display device as a regular big-screen TV. The Poly P15 needs a computer to drive it, but on the other hand, the P15 works with whatever video conferencing app you do while the other products are specific to (say) Microsoft Teams, and thus are less versatile.
While the P15 isn't designed to be a big screen group meeting experience, it is an excellent personal video bar that will help any person look and sound their best, all day and all night. It is an excellent camera, speaker, and microphone package, and looks stylish too.