When I think of webcams, I can’t help but think of Logitech with their ubiquitous C920 and its distinctive rectangular shape. But since COVID, there has been a lot more interest in working from home–and the demand for webcams has increased. It’s also good to have options, and the Poly Studio P5 webcam is definitely a solid contender to the Logitech C920 and similar webcams with some surprises.
The Poly Studio P5 has a lot of bells and whistles in its small form factor: 30 FPS 1080p camera with an 80 degree field of view. It touts the ability to keep true color images even in a low light setting and has an auto focus with a 4x ‘simulated’ zoom (EPTZ). It has a single directional microphone designed for someone working at their desk with a mic on their monitor. It also features an integrated privacy shutter, a removable monitor clamp, and a 2.0 USB port hidden in a compartment on the back. The Poly Studio P5 is powered using a 2.0 USB port, and runs on Mac OS X 10.7 or later and Windows 10 or later.
At first glance, the Poly P5 is a strange looking device. It reminds me of a speed skating helmet–elongated, and slightly alien. Despite its oddly distinct shape, it’s not an ugly webcam–and certainly a departure from Logitech’s blocky offerings. While I don’t hate its form,the color scheme reminds me of cheap faux granite countertops–not something that I’d prefer in an electronic device.
At first, I was worried because the P5 looked like it was missing a tripod mount, which is a big deal breaker for me. I discovered you can actually completely remove the monitor mount to reveal a tripod mount underneath–if you prefer. Otherwise, it has a standard monitor clip/stand that sits on your monitor, and can easily be adjusted up/down and left/right.
Another surprise on the device itself is a strange hidden compartment with a usb port, so you don’t really lose a USB port with your webcam, theoretically. However, it’s a tiny bit awkward plugging a device into the back of the Studio P5, especially since it’s most likely sitting on top of your monitor. It’s advertised to be used with a wireless headset, and can just barely fit a tiny wireless dongle inside. It’s just barely functional, and a strange decision to hide that port away..
I do appreciate the privacy shutter on the Poly Studio P5. While some cameras are shipping with a plastic flip down cover (or you can buy them separately) the Poly Studio P5 integrates a privacy aperture into the device itself. The shutter is a physical block to the lens, and to activate it you need to twist it. However, if you don’t twist it entirely into the “on” position, the camera doesn’t even turn on, blocking video even if the aperture is mostly open. If you don’t want to run into any embarrassing privacy issues, the Poly Studio P5 is a great privacy solution, especially since there is a light that indicates whether your camera is recording, or if the camera is activated at all. However, I’m worried about how robust the aperture/switch is. I am afraid that if the twisting switch on the Poly Studio P5 wears out, you might not be able to reactivate the camera, especially with repeated use of the twisting aperture. The three paneled aperture is pretty damn snazzy, though.
As for the Poly Studio P5 picture quality, it’s okay. It doesn’t particularly blow me away in any lighting situation, but it gets the job done. I find the picture about on par with Logitech’s offering, and despite the Studio P5 touting an impressive lower light mode, it doesn’t seem to handle low light any better than the Logitech C920 or similar.
The Poly Studio P5 does have a built in microphone, and it works pretty well as a webcam mic. It does have a tinny quality, though your room setup really affects its sound quality. I found the Poly Studio P5 worked in a smaller, enclosed office. I’ve included a voice sample recorded in my larger, non-enclosed workshop and it still does a pretty good job–but it obviously doesn’t replace most dedicated mics, in terms of sound quality.
Overall, the Poly Studio P5 is a decent alternative to the Logitech C920 camera and other entry-level webcams. Its price point is a little higher than the C920, but it also has a few features the Logitech staple doesn’t—like a built in privacy aperture, and the USB passthrough. But its mic quality and picture quality just aren’t a huge leap comparatively.
To find out more about the Poly Studio P5, visit their website.
A Poly Studio P5 was provided to us for the purpose of this review