Studio X Review

Poly Studio X Review

Ryan Murphy
January 22, 2020

Poly has created an all-in-one device designed for the huddle space: The Studio X. This is the first device released with the new Poly logo (the new brand created when Plantronics bought and merged with Polycom), and represents a foray into a new space: entry-level room systems.

It’s easy to setup. It’s simple to use. It’s relatively inexpensive. It lacks some of the sophistication and quality that Polycom is known for, but for collaboration spaces, it gets the job done.

The Studio X system consists of two units – an integrated camera, mic and speaker bar, and an optional (but recommended) touch screen control.

Let’s dive into the specifics.

Studio X Setup

The Studio X shines on this front. The unit is easily mountable, and only requires three connections: power, network, and HDMI connection to the display. The touch screen connects with a single network cable.

Once plugged in, the systems configures itself for about a minute. It then provides you with on-screen instructions. You’ll need to visit Poly’s device page by entering the IP address provided onscreen and follow some simple steps. They instructions are clear and concise, and it takes a couple minutes at most.

After basic setup is complete, you have the option to register with Poly or Zoom rooms. We’re a Poly shop ourselves, having built our cloud solution and room registration on Poly infrastructure, so that was the way we went. The Poly registration process is simple, and I imagine the Zoom registration is pretty straightforward too. More on your partnering options later.

Getting on a call is simple with the TC8 touch screen. Dial using a traditional dial pad, or access directories, recent dials and more, all on  screen.

All in all, set up is a breeze. Not a hangup to be found.

Performance in-meeting

First – a note on meeting space. There are two Studio X models: the X30, made for spaces that hold 4-5 people, and the X50 for 8-9. These are important distinctions. Using either model in a space that is bigger than indicated means that the system’s integrated microphone is too far away. That can result in active speakers sounding distant, and also that it may pick up more of the ambient sound in a larger room. That said…

Audio

Poly’s noise-cancelling features are hard at work in the Studio X. It uses AI to filter out sounds that are not the human voice. This means that you won’t hear typing or air conditioning or other mechanical ticking. The only thing it may not catch is the human voice reverberating in a room that is too big, or doesn’t have dampened acoustics.

Sound quality coming out of the speakers are great – same crystal-clear audio as any Poly device. Should be noted that only the X50, which has a wider sound bar, has stereo sound.

Video

The Studio X features 4K capabilities, and while most platforms aren’t currently using 4K because it’s a bandwidth hog, this is more about future-proofing. Either way, you can count on crisp, hi-def video, at up to 60fps at 1080p.

The camera uses a 120 degree lens to capture as much of the rooms as possible. Take note: the further the unit is placed away from the action, the more of a fishbowl effect you will get. People sitting on the fringes are going to get stretched horizontally. It’s not flattering. As a device meant for round-table “huddle” discussions, the key is to bring it in close.

The device also has an optional Active People Framing zoom, meaning the camera will zoom in on the person currently speaking. This is done using a digital zoom (as opposed to an ocular zoom with the lens), so the further it has to zoom in, the grainier the video gets. It’s like zooming in to take a picture with your camera’s phone. It’s always better to just move in closer physically. In our experience here at the office, we decided to not take advantage of this feature.

Content Sharing

There are multiple streamlined options to share content with the Studio X. This is another thing it does very well. You can take advantage of any of the following ways to share:

  • Poly Content App
  • Apple Airplay
  • Miracast
  • HDMI input

Depending on your network setting, screen share can also get as high as 60fps.

Price-point

The Studio X represents Poly’s first all-in-one solution. Previously, to equip the same space would require a bundle of devices. Using Poly as an example, you’d use the Group Series 310 with Eagle Eye IV Camera. The MSRP on that is $5,599, with maintenance plan of around $600.

The Studio X30, by comparison, has an MSRP of $2,199 for the unit and touch screen, or $1,699 without the touch screen (but you’d need a controller already, like the Poly Trio or similar).

So for less than half the cost at MRSP, you can take advantage of legendary Poly technology. Bang-for-your-buck-wise, the Studio X is well worth it, provided it’s used in the appropriate space.

 Summary

The Studio X is easy enough for any lay person to set up and operate, taking the burden off of IT. The audio and video are terrific when the setup positioned appropriately (closer rather than further away), and especially given Poly’s noise-cancelling algorithms. While the camera has a digital zoom, it look grainy when going to the full 4x, so again: position it close. Otherwise, with full 4K capabilities, you can count on the Studio X remaining relevant for the foreseeable future.

In the right space, the Poly Studio X can’t be beat at this price-point. All in all, an excellent investment for your huddle spaces.

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