Review: The Poly Studio P5 webcam is a privacy protection and a good alternative to Logitech

When I think of webcams, I can’t help but think of Logitech with its ubiquitous C920 and 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 strong competitor to the Logitech C920 and similar webcams with a few 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 retain true-color images even in low-light conditions and features autofocus with “simulated” 4x zoom (EPTZ). It features a unique directional microphone designed for someone working at their desk with a mic on their monitor. It also has a built-in privacy shutter, a removable monitor clamp, and a USB 2.0 port hidden in a compartment on the back. The Poly Studio P5 is powered through a USB 2.0 port and runs on Mac OS X 10.7 or later and Windows 10 or later.

Poly Studio P5 webcam. Photo: Marielle Bokor

At first glance, the Poly P5 is an odd device. It reminds me of an elongated, slightly alien speed skating helmet. Despite its oddly distinct shape, it’s not an ugly webcam – and certainly a departure from Logitech’s bulk offerings. While I don’t hate its shape, the color scheme reminds me of cheap faux granite countertops, which I wouldn’t prefer in an electronic.

At first, I was worried because the P5 seemed to lack a tripod mount, which is a big issue for me. I found that you can actually completely remove the monitor stand to reveal a tripod mount underneath, if you prefer. Alternatively, it has a standard monitor clip/stand that sits on top of your monitor and can easily be adjusted up/down and left/right.

Poly Studio P5 webcam. Photo: Marielle Bokor

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 little inconvenient to plug a device into the back of the Studio P5, especially since it’s probably sitting on top of your monitor. It is advertised to be used with a wireless headset and can barely fit a small wireless dongle inside. It’s barely functional, and a strange decision to hide this port…

I appreciate the privacy shutter on the Poly Studio P5. While some cameras come with a plastic flip cover (or you can buy them separately), the Poly Studio P5 incorporates a privacy opening into the device itself. The shutter is a physical block of the lens, and to activate it you have to twist it. However, if you don’t turn it all the way to the “on” position, the camera won’t even turn on, blocking video even though the aperture is mostly open. If you don’t want to run into embarrassing privacy issues, the Poly Studio P5 is a great privacy solution, especially since there’s a light that indicates whether your camera is recording or if the camera is on at all. However, I am concerned about the sturdiness of the aperture/switch. I’m afraid that if the twist switch on the Poly Studio P5 wears out, you won’t be able to reactivate the camera, especially with repeated use of the twist aperture. The three-panel opening is pretty darn stylish, though.

Webcam capture comparison: Logitech C920 and PolyStudio P5

As for the image quality of the Poly Studio P5, it is decent. It doesn’t particularly wow me in any lighting situation, but it gets the job done. I find the picture to be about on par with Logitech’s offering, and despite the Studio P5 touting an impressive low-light mode, it doesn’t seem to handle low-light better than the Logitech C920 or similar.

The Poly Studio P5 has a built-in microphone, and it works pretty well as a webcam mic. It has a tiny quality to it, although your room setup really affects its sound quality. I found the Poly Studio P5 to work in a small, closed office. I’ve included a vocal sample recorded in my larger unenclosed studio and it still does a 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. It’s priced a bit higher than the C920, but it also has a few features the Logitech staple doesn’t, like a built-in privacy aperture and USB passthrough. But its mic quality and image quality just aren’t a huge leap forward.

To learn more about the Poly Studio P5, visit their website.

A Poly Studio P5 was provided to us for this review

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