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Behind a device bringing boardroom conferencing home

The Poly Sync 20 is a portable device that brings boardroom audio quality to the home. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK unboxes it and hears more from Westcon-Comstor regional CEO Rakesh Parbhoo

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It looks like a consumer gadget, but it is firmly aimed at the enterprise. It is intended for the small office, but it is enabling big businesses to operate from any environment. It’s called the Poly Sync 20, and it is a slim and portable smart speakerphone, certified for Microsoft Teams, no less.

With 20-hour battery life, it is ideal for taking an office anywhere, and connects wirelessly through Bluetooth, or wired via USB, to smartphones and computers. Most significantly, it picks up sound from up to 2 metres away, via a multidirectional microphones array, meaning one can be heard clearly while walking around the typical home office, hotel room, or small meeting area.

Rakesh Parbhoo, chief executive officer for Sub Saharan Africa of distributors Westcon-Comstor, and its global chief technology officer, says he cannot understate his enthusiasm for the device. In the latest episode of the Goldstuck On Gadgets channel on YouTube, he played the unusual role of following our unboxing with a discussion about the substantial role that this humble gadget can play.

”It’s not something we do very often, to have devices in our world that a consumer can also use. But working from my home office, it’s become something that’s very helpful for me. I’m not really a fan of wearing a headset all day. Given that I spend the majority of my day on video calls with people across Africa and around the world, I like to be able to just have a free conversation.”

The Poly Sync 20 is one of the few enterprise-level devices that also looks like a consumer gadget, with easy functionality, ports, and buttons. This, says Parbhoo, is a major part of the appeal.

“It’s a plug-and-play type device. You’ve got the USB cable that you can plug into your computer, or just into a power source to let it run. I use the Bluetooth connection to my Mac to communicate, and it’s very simple to mute, change the volume, and make a call.

“It has some nifty little features as well that are integrated with Microsoft Teams. And there’s a programmable button on the side that you can use to do whatever you want. I’ve just set it to tell me the battery level. When it turns on and lights up it creates a nice glow, and you can easily see when you’re on mute or not. I use it predominantly for work and for talking on Zoom, Teams, WebEx and calls while on my desk, but have also tried it out with my phone and using it as a conference speaker from a phone or an iPad.”

The Teams certification comes as a surprise to many who are new to videoconferencing. But it is a common feature in the brand, says Parbhoo.

“Poly for many years has been working very closely with Microsoft on all of their devices. So they’ve always had a lot of integrations, even going back to the Skype and Skype for Business days. And now they have evolved that into Microsoft Teams so that the buttons can be programmed to do things like start a Teams chat, just to make it really simple to use it in organisaions, if you’re using Teams all day long.”

A number of useful features have been built into the Poly 20, but are not obvious at a glance, such as its function to help a user catch up on voicemail – activated by the device as an invitation when one has been in a meeting.

“It just makes it easier to do some of the things that you’re doing on a daily basis and prompts up the right notifications. It comes with software you can download from the Poly site that allows you to tweak it a little bit. So you can choose what you want some of the buttons to do, or whether you want it to give you audio messages when you’re on mute, or just a tone.

“It also supports the noise-cancelling features that Zoom and Teams have integrated into the products, in terms of making sure that if a dog’s barking in the background or someone’s using the vacuum cleaner, which happens all the time, that it doesn’t pick up those sounds either. Despite it having an extremely impressive array of mics, that was the thing that really appealed to me. That’s really impressive for such a small desk device.”

To watch the unboxing and the full interview, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R41LraLHi0

For more information on where to purchase the Poly Sync 20, click here.

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