Not 4K, still the best external cam for professional video
Poly EagleEye Mini USB is one of the best cameras for professional video conferencing.
When working in a variety of spaces and when being dependent on mobile real time communication, the two most important devices are the camera and the speakerphone (or headset).
There is no camera with integrated speakers or microphone, delivering decent sound combatting environmental challenges, such as background noise, busy office floors, echo or other acoustic problems. This leaves the mobile worker with the obligation to use a professional speakerphone (such as the Calisto) or a headset. (For example Poly BlackWire 5210).
For many years, Poly (fka Polycom) has named its video conferencing cameras ‘EagleEye’. This is since the introduction of the HDX series back in 2006. The camera is named after the prestigious capacities of the eagle, the everything observing predator known for extreme sharp and detailed vision.
So why is the camera such a big deal? Well, this is really simple. In video conferencing, it is the thing that matters most, after sound. Regardless of platform, the experience is determined by the quality of the sound in the first place and in the second place by the image received from the other party.
In today’s feature rich world of numbers and capacities, 4K is no longer an exception. But 4K really only matters in (huddle) rooms and larger rooms. At the desktop, the current required resolution is no bigger than Full HD (1.920 x 1.080 pixels) and in most cases, not even this image is being sent and received.
A Full HD camera is a perfect accessory for video conferencing, providing that the image is sharp, the motion is correct, the color accuracy is good and that the product works driverless. As such is the case with EagleEye Mini USB. The camera delivers on several dimensions that are utterly important to create a good experience:
First dimension: the technical specification.
The camera has a Full HD image resolution, offering 30 frames per second at 1080p resolution. This is not new, but an H.264 compliancy. Many cheap cameras promise the same, but do not have a 280 Mbps transmit bitrate and although the camera can grab frames of the 1.920 x 1.080 size, it won’t transmit the image consistently. Poly EagleEye Mini USB offers:
– 1.920 x 1.080 resolution, at 30 frames per second
– 24-bit true color (4 Megapixel sensor)
– 74° field of view
– f/2.0 apperture
– USB connected
Second dimension: the physical specification.
Laptops do have integrated cameras, but typically the display is set in an angle, providing the in-nose view during conferences. This distorted image is one of the most frequently made mistakes in communication, creating the awkward view. The in-bezel camera in a laptop, or even iPad, is only good for emergency scenarios, and is not permitted in permanent home working set ups. The ipad has a camera on the side, creating an image that looks always aside the participants.
Poly EagleEye Mini can be mounted on the bezel of the laptop or on the top of the desk display and be held in the ideal position due to the rubber foldable clam. With a bit of pressure, the clam can be moulded in the ideal position to create a straight undistorted image. The camera can be mounted on top or on the bottom of the screen, it could be wall mounted and it even has a way of mounting it in a series of phones (Polycom VVX series), creating videophones.
Third dimension: the functional specification.
The camera has a privacy shutter, that easily shows if the privacy is applied or not: by turning the lens cap, a red shutter closes the lens, there is no doubt if this is opened or closed, as opposed to cameras where this shutter is black, resembling the inner parts of the lens. In addition to the privacy shutter, the camera has a top lamp, indicating if the camera is connected, is idle (yellow) or in use (green). This equally serves as a busy lamp field, indicating that the person is in call, avoiding coworkers coming from behind the display not knowing the person is in a call.
Auto white balance, backlight compensation, 4x electronic zoom and autofocus create sharp and reliable images for the widest range of applications used for real time video communication.
Conclusion: Poly EagleEye Mini USB is one of the best – if not the best – mini camera for professional video communication in the sub 150 euro price range.