Time for a new hardware review! This time we have an impressive little device – a new 4K USB camera from Poly (formerly Polycom/Plantronics).
Ben at Poly came out to demo some new hardware for us. He showed us two of Poly’s newer systems: the Studio X30 and Studio X50.
I’ll do a separate post on those. This one’s focused on another hardware item we saw in the same demo. Ben brought along a new camera: the EagleEye Cube USB camera.
I asked Ben if he’d lend me an EagleEye for review. He agreed, handing over his demo unit.
This is the EagleEye description from its overview & specs page:
The advanced HD camera with intelligent group framing, 5x zoom and legendary audio performance that turns passive meetings in small spaces into powerful experiences. This camera is the ideal visual complement to Poly G7500, Polycom Trio and Group Series conferencing systems.
- HD camera with 4K sensor for better up-close views with 5x zoom
- Automatic group framing or speaker tracking with a 120-degree field of view so people can sit where they want
- Simple single-cable connection to Polycom video solutions
- Two built-in microphones for crystal-clear pickup
- Premium optics and accurate color reproduction deliver true-to-life visuals
- Flexible, easy installation and centralized management make this camera a breeze for IT
Let’s see how well this bears out!
Initial Impressions – Boxy, Big Aperture, Built-In Balancing Stand
Sorry, no breathless unboxing video here. Since I had Ben’s demo model, he’d already unwrapped it. Still, he kept it in the same box, so I have all components you’d receive with a new purchase.
The EagleEye comes with the camera, a power/data cable, manual, and a wall mounting plate with screws. The power/data cable is USB-C, and includes a screw-in clamp like the old VGA cables for monitors. Good to keep the camera connected, even if it falls!
The camera itself has two connections in its back, USB-C and Ethernet. As you’ll see from the photos, it has a big aperture – much larger than most webcams.
The camera itself’s bigger than most webcams. About 2.5″ cubed. It’s a little big for my hand, but not as heavy as you’d think.
You can see the microphones in these photos. They’re almost invisible. That doesn’t diminish their effectiveness though, as we’ll see during testing.
The bottom folds out to create a balancing stand. This way you can balance it on a laptop screen. Ben did so during our demo. I did it as well. Little on the rickety side with my laptop, but it works much better on a TV.
The EagleEye can output video at:
- 1080p60 – 1080p display, from USB or Ethernet.
- 720p60 – 720p display, from USB or Ethernet.
- 4K30 – You do get 4K from this, but it’s through USB only.
Test 1: Compatibility
Poly clearly meant the EagleEye Cube for use with its conferencing products. However, it’s also Certified for Skype for Business, Teams, Teams Rooms, and Zoom. So let’s do a few compatibility tests.
First, direct compatibility with Windows. I plugged the camera into my laptop. It recognized the EagleEye immediately. However, when I checked my Settings, I found a ‘no driver’ error. Uh oh!
Luckily, I knew how to fix this. This camera has a companion app: the Polycom Companion App.
I downloaded & installed the app, and voila! Full recognition.
Test 2: Skype for Business Integration
Next, I changed the default Video Device in my Skype for Business client to use the EagleEye. Several self-viewings and video calls later, I’d say it’s far superior to my built-in camera in terms of color quality.
However, at this point I have to give one caveat – don’t move the camera once it’s set! Whenever I moved it, I noticed a brief delay in the feed – about 1 second. Then the camera refocused and all was well.
After this I used it on my normal meetings for a couple days (Skype Meetings and GoToMeetings). While your experience may differ from mine, I will say that no meeting had a video issue.
Smooth playback. No audio trouble. My avatar window looked as sharp as a high-class TV.
Notable Camera Feature: Speaker Tracking
At this stage, I should point out one of this camera’s impressive features. The EagleEye incorporates smart sensing technology called “Speaker Tracking.”
Just like you’d expect, this allows it to automatically focus on the speaker in a room, adjusting the video feed to show them. The tracking zeroes in on a person talking, the most recent movement…even scuffing a shoe can draw its gaze.
If no one speaks, or multiple people talk at the same time, the EagleEye refocuses on the overall group in its field of view.
Test 3: Conferencing Platforms
I saw during the demo that the EagleEye worked natively with the Poly Studio X30 and X50. No surprise there.
I also wanted to test it on other conferencing platforms – like our in-house RealPresence Trio. The EagleEye is newer than the Trio…would they cooperate? The specs say they will. Time to confirm!
When I plugged it into our Trio directly, I received an ‘Overcurrent Failure Detected’ error. Searches indicated a problem with the USB port, which I tested with my laptop and discounted. Maybe just improper choice of connection on my part. Still, worth nothing.
Plugging the EagleEye into the Trio’s Visual+ unit instead worked perfectly. Our current camera is a Logitech C930e. I don’t know if you can see the difference, but I’m posting some photos of our picture-in-picture.
The 4K resolution activates by default. I didn’t have to tell the EagleEye, or our Trio, anything.
This is a screenshot taken on my phone, of me on the video in a Skype Meeting. Very meta, wouldn’t you say?
Now that it worked with our Trio, the test changes to behavior. Specifically, stress testing. How well would this fancy 4K, auto-tracking camera work under load? Will it slow down? Go pixelated? Crash on me?
I didn’t see any of that. During the demo, we had a presenter join us from New Jersey. Can’t get more ‘cross country’ than that. The video-to-audio connection went as smoothly as if he stood in the room with us.
As a second test, I invited contacts from two other locations into a Skype Meeting in our conference room. One was down in Southern California, while the other’s in Las Vegas.
Results were the same. We chatted for a few minutes, and found each of us saw zero jitter or lag time.
(I recognize that this is partly an issue of bandwidth, not just the camera. We have plenty of bandwidth hereâ€¦but the Las Vegas contact didn’t. Standard cable connection. Still, no issues.)
The Verdict: One of the Best Cameras You Can Use for Online Meetings
Overall, I came away quite impressed with the EagleEye Cube. It’s a lot of camera in a small box. It’s “smart” enough to make conferencing more engaging, but not overly complicated or buggy.
The EagleEye Cube is compatible with these conferencing platforms:
- Microsoft Teams
- Poly G7500 2.1 or above
- Poly Trio 8500/8800
- RealPresence Group Series 6.2.1 or above
- Skype for Business
- Teams Rooms
Here’s a data sheet for your quick reference: EagleEye Cube Datasheet (PDF)
If you have the bandwidth to run your meetings on these platforms, you’re well-served with an EagleEye Cube. Everyone will appreciate the 4K clarity too.
We received no compensation for this review – other than the loan of the camera, of course. We are a Poly Partner though, so if you’re interested in the EagleEye, drop us a line.
Does your office use Poly’s EagleEye cameras? Share your experience!