The Poly Studio P5 webcam is one of the launch products from new HP-owned brand Poly. These products are aimed at a perhaps less 'corporate' audience than HP's main collection of peripherals and accessories, with a brighter-looking presentation and a no-fuss approach to specs and equipment setup.
We've also reviewed the Poly Sync 10, a speakerphone that fills another niche among hybrid workers' new everyday setup, one that requires frequent video-conferencing with products that are reliable and easy to use.
I used the Poly Studio P5 webcam in conjunction with the Poly Sync 10 over a number of weeks, and after having tried many of the best conference-room webcams as well as the best webcams overall, I've come away quite happy with my experience of the nifty-looking Poly camera.
Poly Studio P5 webcam review: Key specs
|Resolution:||1080p (1920 x 1080)|
|Diagonal field of view:||80°|
|Framing type:||Fixed framing|
|Connection type:||Wired USB-A, 1.3m cable|
|Dimensions:||3.7 x 3.4 x 6.2 cm|
Design and build
My first impression of the Poly Studio P5 when I unpacked it was twofold. A: Huh, it's not black/grey and narcolepsy-inducing to look at, and B: It weighs almost nothing.
Indeed, the spot-dappled white plastic casing and monitor clamp immediately set it apart from any other webcam I've used in recent years. There's maybe a little '90s throwback element to the spots adorning the white surface, but that's just a good thing in my mind.
It's connected via a USB-A cable, and while it may seem like a non-essential detail, this is helpful to lone freelancers or hybrid workers with their own computers, because not all of it has USB-C connectivity, so the P5 is compatible with older ecosystems than if it did with a USB-C cable. Also, it helps keep the price lower. It's the little things, isn't it?
The camera swivels a full 360 degrees and is magnetically attached to the monitor clamp, so can be removed from there if desired (for example if you use a small desk tripod or another setup).
However, there's no tilting adjustability, except for the angle at which you can adjust the clamp/base tilt. While this helps keep the camera light (no tilting mechanism shaves a good few grams), it also leaves you partly at the mercy of your desk setup whether the angle at which the camera will catch your face is flattering or not.
Features and performance
Like the unit itself, the Poly Studio P5 keeps things light on features too. It's a fixed-frame camera with 1080p FHD resolution, wired USB-A connection and a removable monitor clamp. Oh, and no tilt (but a glorious full three-sixty swivel, oh yeah).
But what it does do, it does very well. For an HD webcam, the picture is sharp and bright without being too glaring or unflattering, the installation and setup is wonderfully plug-and-play, and the simple unidirectional mic picks up audio from a single source (my face hole in this particular case) with ease and a lack of lag or echo on the receiving end.
The shutter is a manual one, where you twist it anticlockwise to open (and the camera turns on automatically when it clicks into fully open position), and clockwise to close. It functions therefore as both an on/off switch and physical privacy shutter, another clever little space/weight/moneysaver.
The picture is 'only' Full HD, 1080p (oh how our expectations shift so rapidly), but it offered a crisp, lag-free experience for me, with a sharp image that wasn't too washed out and a lens that responded well enough to sudden brightness changes (my desk is next to a large window where the sun peeking out from behind a cloud can drastically change the brightness of the room instantly) without it being a distraction for me or my video-call colleagues.
There was an intermittent issue where, if the shutter hadn't been fully closed before starting a call, turning it to the fully open position wouldn't actually switch on the camera, so I had to leave the call, close the shutter, reopen it and then rejoin the call, which is annoying due to my laziness rather than critical to the function of the camera.
The Poly Studio P5 is currently being sold for £73.99 on HP's own site, which is largely in line with webcams at this spec level. The difference here is that this one is super-light and looks a little more interesting than most of its competitors (but you do sacrifice a wider feature set and tilt-adjustment ability).
Should I buy the Poly Studio P5?
If you need a simple, no-fuss webcam for your home office, the Poly Studio P5 will do just about everything you need. There's no auto-framing that follows you around, or tilt ability, or customised lighting settings, but what you do get is a sharp, relatively bright HD picture with a sturdy, removable monitor clamp, an extremely compact casing that hardly weighs a thing, and something that looks a little more interesting than the hundreds of dull black or dark grey rivals on the market among the best webcams.