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Review: Jabra Panacast 20

At last a nice webcam!

The Jabra Panacast 20 delivers the best images we've seen yet for the price. And it's an added bonus that it's almost elegant.

Karakter
Jabra Panacast 20
forfatter
Published 2022-04-06 - 10:00 am
Our opinion
4K resolution. Wide viewing angle. The built-in AI is actually pretty clever. The first nice looking webcam.
Rather high price. The wide angle of view causes perspective distortion. Only 30 Hz frame rate.
Specifications
  • Max. resolution: 3840 x 2160 @ 30 fps, HDR
  • Supported resolutions: 4K, 1080p, 720p
  • Lens: 13 Mp 1/3.2″ 2.26 mm f/2.25
  • Angle of view: 117° diagonal
  • Picture features: 3x Intelligent Zoom, Picture-in-picture
  • Microphones: 3 x MEMS
  • Software: Jabra Direct, Jabra Xpress (Windows, MacOS)
  • Compatibility: Microsoft Teams, Zoom and “all leading UC platforms”
  • Connectivity: 1.5 m USB-A
  • Dimensions and weight: 44 mm x 25 mm x 80 mm / 136 g
  • Web: jabra.com

Webcams are a technology whose importance is inversely proportional to their sex appeal. The corona pandemic made the little protrusions on the computer screen a lifeline between the home office and the reality to which we had lost access. But no one has ever said to friends and colleagues, ” Check out this cool webcam I got!”

The Jabra Panacast 20 is an exception. The awesomeness factor is still limited, but Jabra has actually managed to make a webcam that doesn’t look completely silly on top of the screen. Something that no one has achieved before them!

Blends in with the screen

Most webcams are mounted on a plastic bracket that clips on top of the screen, onto which the camera then protrudes. The Jabra Panacast 20 has the attachment mechanism integrated into its low profile metal housing. This means that the camera extends a few millimetres over the edge of the screen, making it look like an integral part of the screen.

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The Jabra Panacast 20 is all metal – and actually quite nice. (Photo: Jabra)

The camera housing is all black metal and has a rounded shape. There is of course a threaded hole for mounting on a standard camera tripod.

The camera is relatively heavy, and the cable quite stiff. This makes it difficult to use the camera with a laptop with a narrow bezel. But that’s a minimal problem, since most people will use the laptop’s built-in webcam on the go anyway. For those who do, a carrying case comes with the camera.

For privacy, the camera has a physical flap to cover the lens. Again, the design is a bit smarter than what I’ve seen before. The shutter is built invisibly into the housing and turns a flap in front of the lens when you push a button on the underside of the camera body.

The Jabra Panacast 20 is equipped with an image sensor in 4K resolution. This does not give you UHD quality images during video meetings, as Zoom, Teams and other meeting platforms only support up to 1080p. But the extra video resolution gives the video processor in the camera something to work with.

The camera has an image field of 90 degrees horizontally (117 degrees diagonally). That’s a pretty wide angle of view for a webcam.

There are three built-in chip microphones in the camera, arranged in an array, which makes it possible to eliminate ambient noise and direct the sound to the speaker.

Intelligent zoom

Jabra Panacast 20 features a so-called Edge AI processor. It’s hard to find a product today that doesn’t claim to have integrated AI, but the artificial intelligence in the camera is actually quite gifted. The processor adjusts the lighting, and it managed to provide a pretty believable image during Zoom meetings at the editorial office. And with more natural skin tones and less image noise than the Logitech Brio 4K Stream Edition at the same price.

The AI processor is also responsible for the Smart Zoom feature, which zooms and pans the image to keep the user in the center, of the picture. At 720p resolution, the camera has up to 3x digital zoom without losing resolution as the image sensor delivers a 4K resolution video stream. It works fine, and zooms and pans smoothly.

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The Jabra Panacast 20 doesn’t stand out unnecessarily, but blends into the screen. (Photo: Jabra)

However, if you have virtual background turned on in Zoom or Teams, the effect becomes a little odd, as your image floats softly around the screen while the background remains immovably fixed. However, this is not the fault of the camera software, and the only solution to make foreground and background go together would be to integrate artificial backgrounds into the camera software itself.

Setup and operation are quite straightforward. The supplied cable terminates in an old-fashioned USB-A connector, but if you only have available USB-C ports, any spare USB-C cable can be used.

Like other webcams, Panacast 20 is plug-and-play and requires no special software to run on PC and Mac. However, the Jabra Direct app allows you to fiddle with the geekier settings if you like. But it’s by no means strictly necessary. However, if you want to change the angle of the picture or use the picture-in-picture feature, where the active window is embedded in the video image being sent out, you’ll need to select that in the app.

Jabra Speak 750

Along with the camera, we also received the Jabra Speak 750, which is a so-called conference speaker. It’s essentially the same as a portable Bluetooth speaker – but with extra features designed for meetings. The speaker, which can be used both wirelessly with Bluetooth and wired via USB, is a round device the size of a saucer that can be used instead of your computer’s or mobile’s built-in speakers during video meetings – and thus actually enable you to follow the meeting!

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Jabra Speak 750 can improve the sound of your online meetings. (Photo: Jabra)

Although it’s small, the Jabra Speak 750 does the job brilliantly. Even though several of the other participants were sitting together in a meeting room and talking amongst each other in Norwegian (!), it was easy to follow the meeting. The speaker has a built-in microphone, and when used as both a microphone and speaker in Zoom, echo and acoustic feedback are prevented. On the other hand, you lose the ability to simultaneously use the better microphones in the camera and their noise reduction.

The price of the speaker – €320 – is rather steep, however.

Conclusion

The Jabra Panacast 20 is a webcam that distinguishes itself from other webcams at the better end of the premium class by actually being quite elegant. It also excels at good image quality and a decent AI that keeps you in the center of the action.

If working from home and remote meetings continue to take up a lot of your time, this is one of the best solutions for the price right now. The Jabra Speak 750 also does its job seamlessly. The price is unfortunately quite high, and a pair of decent headphones could do the job just as well – albeit not as simply and elegantly.

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