Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800 Collaboration Kit review: A complete voice and videoconferencing hub

Polycom’s RealPresence Trio 8800 Collaboration Kit is a complete voice and videoconferencing hub, offering everything a small business could possibly need. And there’s no need to hook it up to a laptop or mobile: the hardware handles it all.

Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800 Collaboration Kit review: A complete voice and videoconferencing hub

The heart of the RealPresence Trio 8800 is the base unit – a sleek, low-profile tripod that houses a 5in colour touchscreen, three studio-quality cardioid mics and a powerful central loudspeaker. Polycom makes big claims for this speaker, claiming its quality is “legendary”.

The video side of things is handled by Polycom’s Visual+ satellite hub, which connects via USB to the bundled Logitech C930e 1080p HD webcam (note that no other type of USB camera is supported). You don’t need to connect the Visual+ directly to the base unit: it hooks into your LAN via wired Ethernet, and the components automatically pair over the network. This means you have plenty of arrangement options, without having to trail messy cables across the room.

Both components support PoE, and we had no problem powering them via the lab’s HPE ProCurve 2626-PWR switch. To keep an eye on things, we connected an HD monitor to the HDMI port on the Visual+ hub; this brought up a progress screen that confirmed when it had paired with the base unit.

The base unit also features integrated 802.11n wireless – but if you use this to connect to your LAN, the Visual+ won’t be able to pair with it, so you’ll only get audio services. Other features are Bluetooth and NFC, so you can pair a mobile phone or tablet to use its audio facilities.

Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800 Collaboration Kit review: Features

The kit supports Skype for Business (SfB) as well as Microsoft’s Lync and Office 365, Cisco’s CUCM and Polycom’s RealPresence services. You’ll want to decide which service you’re using before buying, as Polycom offers a custom variant of the Trio for SfB users.

The Trio’s touchscreen menu is very easy to use. The standard base unit shows friendly multicoloured icons, while the SfB model presents a different set in the standard Skype blue. These are used to log in to your account, create on-demand or scheduled meetings, select preloaded contacts and search Active Directory. When the Visual+ is paired, an extra Content icon appears, which helps you share your desktop using Polycom’s RealPresence Desktop or Mobile apps.

Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800 Collaboration Kit review: Verdict

During testing, we found the kit a pleasure to use, and were bowled over by its audio quality. Sound was crystal clear, with nice warm bass, and participants unanimously agreed that it was the best they’d heard. Volume isn’t a problem either – anything above 50% volume was too loud for our 6.5m-long meeting room.

The microphones are impressive too: Polycom’s nifty NoiseBlock feature automatically identifies and filters out distracting background noises. Video quality was good too, although here a few participants felt the camera’s focus was slightly soft, and lacking detail on remote objects.

Along with support for SfB screen-sharing, you can also broadcast your desktop using Polycom’s People+Content IP (PPCIP) server component. Using the free PPCIP app on a Windows 10 laptop, we entered the Trio’s IP address in the app’s interface, provided the password we’d configured from the Trio’s web UI and watched our desktop appear on the monitor. A neat feature of the app is a zoom function, so you can  zero in on areas of interest.

The price may be high, but the RealPresence Trio 8800 Collaboration Kit is a slick videoconferencing solution. It’s highly flexible when it comes to positioning, and it won’t be beaten for features or audio quality. 

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