We have a new device to review! It’s the RealPresence Trio 8800 from Polycom.

I will do this in two parts. Today’s post will talk about the RealPresence Trio’s capabilities. Next post will cover our experience testing it in the office.

“RealPresence”? What’s That?

The RealPresence Trio is a conferencing system built for “amazing sound quality.” But it doesn’t just provide audio – you can add video, share content and link up devices like tablets.

The “Trio” part refers to its 3 products:

  1. A meeting console, or “smart hub.”
  2. A Logitech Webcam C390e. (Right now, this is the only camera with which RealPresence works.)
  3. And the Visual+ accessory unit. The Visual+ expands the RealPresence hub with content sharing & videoconferencing functionality.

RealPresence Trio from PolyCom

RealPresence works with Skype for Business and Lync Server 2013 at full capability. (RealPresence can work with a Lync 2010 server, but audio-only. Its video coding standard is too new for Lync 2010 to support.)

As you can see from the photo (credit to Polycom), the smart hub looks a lot like the “Three-legged Spider” (my own name for conference room speakers). The hub’s panels are touch-sensitive – not only for the LCD screen, but on each speaker “leg”. For instance, touch the mute corner on any of them (visible in green above), and the speaker is muted.

The webcam can operate standalone, or connected to a TV/monitor. We’ll test it using the Panasonic LCD TV in our conference room.

The Visual+ facilitates content sharing – presentations, spreadsheets, video.

RealPresence Trio 880 FAQ (PDF)

What’s so Special?

Why should a business consider using the RealPresence though? They do have audio/video conferencing options.

Well, first off, the RealPresence Trio is very new. Which means latest-and-greatest tech.

1080p video at 30fps. Good clear video from the Logitech.

Built-in Power over Ethernet (PoE). Fewer cords is always helpful!

Exchange Calendar integration. The other day, a customer reported a little difficulty with their conference room. They had Skype for Business running in the conference room (but not on a RealPresence Trio device). Audio worked all right, and they could get video. But actually joining Skype Meetings proved problematic.

This is in fact one of the reasons we started looking at the RealPresence product. Its calendar integration for meeting joins should prove much simpler than the older device this customer used.

Audio. The big one. The RealPresence Trio shows some serious devotion to audio quality.

  • USB and Bluetooth connectivity for audio. You can use it as a conferencing device, or a speakerphone. Not just with Skype for Business either.
  • NoiseBlock – an audio technology “which identifies non-speech noise and mutes all microphones automatically.”
  • From the FAQ: “RealPresence Trio also uses its own echo cancellation capabilities, regardless of its operating mode. Trio is recognized as a USB echo cancelling speakerphone.”

I’ll try as many tests of this as I can. But I admit a slight bias here – we’ve used PolyCom phones and conferencing devices for some years now. In terms of echo and noise, they generally work well.

I’ll know more after the testing. But right now, I’d say the RealPresence Trio is a good chance if you:

  • Have workers out in the field, and need to hear from them regularly.
  • Operate out of multiple offices.
  • Have teams spread out geographically, who need to collaborate often.
  • Are moving to Skype for Business Server and want an audio conferencing solution that ‘just works’ with it.

Elements to Test

These are the elements I plan to test on the RealPresence.

  1. Video quality. As high as the Panasonic TV will go.
  2. Audio quality. I’m honestly not sure how to test this, but one of our designers works with audio-visual, so I’ll ask him for input.
  3. Content sharing stream. I’ve done a lot of desktop/app/presentation sharing through Skype for Business. Bandwidth and device quality influence how smooth & clear the stream is. We have plenty of bandwidth in the office…let’s see how the device measures up.
  4. Ease of setup. I’m asking the rest of our Skype for Business team for their input too.
  5. Ease of use for meetings. How long does it take to set up a meeting using RealPresence? Is the meeting join really one-step?
  6. Integration with Skype for Business and Exchange. How complicated is this part to set up? Do we need to do anything not documented?
  7. Will it BLEND? (No, not really.)

Anything you’d like us to test on the Polycom RealPresence? If so, please comment or email the idea.

If you’re not already subscribed, don’t forget to sign up on the right. Otherwise you might miss Part 2 of this review, detailing our test results. Nobody wants to miss that!


Hardware Review: Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800 (Part 1)

9 thoughts on “Hardware Review: Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800 (Part 1)

  • February 10, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Actually, RealPresence is the collective name of an entire group of products from Polycom. Basically anything that touches video is known as Polycom RealPresence Whatever. If you’re going to use something shorter you’d best use “Trio” or “Trio 8800” so that you actually reference the device.

    I’d especially like to know if it’s audio performance is markedly better than the older SoundStation IP7000.

    If you want to test it’s basic SIP interop capability I have some suitable hardware end-points that you could target. Polycom IP7000, VVX-600 with camera, HDX-4500, etc.

  • February 11, 2016 at 12:34 am

    Looking forward to part two.

    One thing we’re interested in (I’ll shortly get a demo unit as well) is how quickly it gets up and running. Our intention is to have it in the drawer and place it on the table a couple minutes before the meetings. Also we have Exchange integration disabled on all our Polycom devices, but would need it here, I can probably set that using it’s own configuration file.

  • February 11, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on this device after some testing! We have one and think it is a pretty stellar offering from Polycom. Sound quality of the device is amazing. Setup is a breeze.

    That said, there are some shortcomings we’ve seen. However at this price point we’re still pretty happy! Here’s what we’ve noticed:

    1. No simultaneous content/people – By default if content is present, it shows it. When content is present, you can toggle back to people easily though.

    2. Active speaker only – you will only see one remote participant at a time.

    3. Application vs. Desktop Sharing – During Application Sharing, shared program doesn’t scale up to full resolution of the screen. It only takes up a portion of it.

    4. Video during Lync/Skype AVMCU Hosted meetings – 2 things we’ve seen here:
    * Occasionally remote participant video freezes during AVMCU Meetings. This only happens on the Trio, when viewing the meeting on a laptop the same participant video is perfect.
    * Trio video feed from Logitech C930E sometimes is low resolution.

    5. Contacts vs. Contact Directory – Lync Contacts can be searched under “Contacts”, “Contact directory” is for local contacts. When hiding via custom XML “Contact Directory”, other functionality breaks (can’t view contacts, can’t view meetings, can’t view recent calls). In the latest update, they renamed “Contact Directory” to “Local Directory”, which I think helps with potential confusion for the users.

    6. Contact Search – Keyboard doesn’t disappear for Lync searches after you tap on a user. You have to click DONE, then click DIAL.

    7. Does not support PowerPoint sharing (Office Web Apps) for meetings, only Desktop/Application sharing.

    8. With Skype4B 2016 client, only supports application sharing for P2P sessions. Doesn’t support P2P full desktop sharing (new protocol from Microsoft).

    9. No support from custom backgrounds on Visual+ HDMI screen.

    10. Will not show contact pictures from AD, only silhouettes.

    CypherBit – Once you have it configured, you could “keep it in a drawer” as you describe. Boots up in about 2 minutes and maintains settings.

    • February 11, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      Awesome comment JB, thanks! Lots of good stuff I can look at with our unit here. I’ve added these to my testing notes.

  • February 11, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Happy to add my input, looking forward to seeing if our findings line up on those topics!

  • February 11, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    JB, thank you very much. Will probably get a test unit at the end of the month and might have something to add to this great list you compiled.

  • February 12, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Interested in ease of meeting setup and startup and join… we use S4B for board meetings with some attendees remotely using Apples and the Web Conferencing connection. It is a bit too intimidating for some ‘Boomer’ attendees to start a meeting in the conference room and for remotes to join the meeting to participate in live voice/video/presentation conferencing. 🙂

  • February 13, 2017 at 11:53 am

    I have been struggling with getting the video to work and all the blogs say it simply works. I connected the laptop to the Trio unit via the USB enclosed plug. I connected the TV and Logitech Camera that came with it to the Visual + unit. I am not using the SfB built in to the Polycom. I connect via skype from my laptop to the remote skype connection and the audio works through the Trio Unit. My screen is displayed on the TV with the Content+ application which loads from the D drive when connected via USB. However, I can not get my laptop to recognize the Logitech camera to allow the Skype from the pc to use it. So not sure how this was indended to work if not wanting to use SfB.


    • February 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks for the comment. You may need to use the SfB in the Polycom to make the camera behave. I hate to ask, but have you tested the camera directly to make sure it’s working properly? You might have a bad connection.


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