The idea of hybrid work devices seems like “same-same but different” in many cases, but it’s usually a subtle feature that makes all the difference. The Poly Sync 40 is all that and more.
The Sync 40 is a rather handsome device that’s far from boring. Its angular lines are more akin to something you’d find on a consumer-targeted device, and not to mention its colours fit both casual and professional settings. Decked out in shades of grey, this is more Scandanavian than stereotypical corporate safe colours of black and blacker than black.
You’ll find that the design choices on the Poly Sync are pretty on point: a fixed USB cable that curls up nicely and hidden beneath the speaker, touch-sensitive icons that are large and well-placed, the sole USB port (for charging other devices) shielded with dust covers, while the USB cable has an adaptor allowing you to plug into both USB-C and USB-A ports.
When the buttons are activated, a soft white glow emanates through translucent plastic for a rather pleasing visual effect. It’s not bright enough to be disruptive, but just enough to help with visibility in a darkened room. The buttons themselves are responsive and activate instantly upon touch, though it could be said that they are a tad too sensitive. Brush your hand gently across the surface and you will undoubtedly trigger an action.
Fortunately, there aren’t many buttons, to begin with, and only the most pertinent are present: a Bluetooth button for easy pairing, volume buttons to control err, volume, a mute button to cut the microphone, and a rocket button that is programmable via the Poly Lens app. There is one more button along the side of the speaker, and that is used for connecting a second Sync speaker. The second speaker expands the range and pickup of the microphones and is good for slightly larger meeting groups.
The Sync 40 is pretty lightweight as well, weighing a mere 615 g, and stands no taller than 39 mm. The Sync 40 should easily fit into most bags without being disruptive – gear is only useful if you want to use it, and as we found out, the Sync 40 gave us plenty of reasons to turn it on.
Portable speaker tech has come a long way over the years, and it’s no longer the case that having a speaker to prioritise clarity of voice comes at the price of anaemic audio quality (when it comes to music). The Sync 40 is pretty well-equipped to handle most styles of music, so long as it doesn’t get too layered. It sounds a lot bigger than it looks, thanks largely to the woofer, which helps add a lot of body to the music. This is especially true when you choose the Bass setting in the equalization menu. The Flat setting gives you the impression it’s a little louder at the expense of bass output while the Bright setting makes voices stand out more.
The Flat setting is most ideal but it’s the Bass setting that gives the speaker plenty of body and cleverly disguises the Sync’s diminutive size. Honestly, I wished it could be a little louder but even at maximum volume, distortion is minimal (you wouldn’t mind even if you noticed). There’s no particularly strong sweet spot for this speaker, which to me is great news – the speaker sounds great no matter where you may be in the room. And in the practical sense, it doesn’t matter where you are seated during meetings as well. I like the fact that you never ever have to worry about orientation.
But the acid test for the Sync is ultimately how it performs as a speakerphone. And it is rather good. The built-in microphone in the Sync is rated for up to two metres, which is also the ideal range for listening. So long as you are within this range, it captures speech beautifully and does a fair job of diminishing background noise. Of course, no technology is perfect when it comes to that sort of thing, but it does a fair job of pushing voices to the forefront and making them distinct from the background, which I think is far more important.
Part of the reason for getting a Sync 40 over conventional speakerphones is that it is certified to work with Microsoft Teams (focus room certified, Room certified pending) and Zoom (certified personal workspace). While it doesn’t necessarily mean that uncertified speakers don’t work, but it does mean that certified speakers work very well – you’re paying for a guarantee, so to speak. On top of that, you get options that better reflect the nature of its use in the office, such as options for a secure connection; i.e. to keep the phone connected to the speakerphone even when the call ends, so as to prevent accidental connections to shared devices.
What I found puzzling was that while the Poly Lens for desktop is quite comprehensive, the mobile option – PLT Hub – is a bit of a dinosaur and it is fairly restricted in terms of options. Granted, you can do basic stuff like configuring the daisy chain feature or customising the Rocket button, but it’s a stripped-down menu of options.
The battery life for the Sync is rather decent as well. It’s rated for up to 30 hours of talk time, and I’ve kept it playing music for effectively an entire day at work on Bluetooth. If you’re in the office, the USB cable lets you hook it up to a computer to take battery life out of the equation, and it also ensures that there will be no interrupted calls due to interference to the Bluetooth signal. Is it a downside that the USB cable is permanently affixed to the Sync 40? There is a legitimate concern regarding longevity but the cable seems sturdy enough so far, so I wouldn’t be too worried.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t think a speakerphone with an enhanced microphone would be necessary, but given the nature of our working habits these days, I must say that the likes of the Poly Sync are becoming more attractive.
Price $378.80 from Costronic (Lazada)
- PC/Mac via combined USB-A and USB-C cable
- Bluetooth v5.1 (A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, BLE)
- One USB-A port for smartphone charging
- Touch-sensitive buttons for: Call/answer end | Mute | Volume +/- | Programmable function button | Bluetooth pairing
- Push-button user controls for: Power On/Off | Wireless daisy chain
- Three-microphone steerable array
- 2.5m Microphone pickup range
- Ideal for room sizes up to 5 m x 5 m
- Frequency response: 100 Hz to 6.7 kHz
- Full duplex audio
- Noise and echo reduction
- One 50 mm high-performance music speaker
- Frequency response: 75 Hz to 20 kHz
- Bass reflect with dual passive radiators
- 5,000mAh Lithium-ion
- Talk time: up to 30 hours
- Charge time: 5 hours
Dimensions and weight
- 38 x 102 x 273 mm
- 610 g
- 1050 mm USB cable
- Wirelessly connect two Sync 40 units together for larger meetings rooms
- Private/shared Bluetooth modes for personal/common meeting use
- IP64 dust and water-resistant
- Poly Lens, Plantronics Hub desktop and mobile versions. Plantronics Manager Pro suites: Asset Management and Adoption
- Platform certification: Microsoft Teams focus room certified, Microsoft Teams Room certified (pending) for Microsoft Teams version | Zoom | Compatible with a wide range of platforms
Poly Sync 40
Poly Sync 40
Features – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Design & Build Quality – 8/10
There’s so much to like about the qualities the Poly Sync 40 offers both at work and at play, and I think there’s a good case to consider one over your typical Bluetooth speaker. The only potential stumbling block is the price, as it always is, but if you just want a quality, fuss-free solution, this is a viable option.