Connect with people a room at a time.

When I suddenly found myself working from home earlier this year, like so many others, I had to adapt to a new way of working. Those methods included integrating video calls as a part of our regular meeting schedule. Since I had to shift so suddenly to working from home, I was forced to use the equipment I had at my immediate disposal — my iPhone, iPad, webcam on my MacBook Pro — instead of what was the best option for the job at hand. Today is a different story than it was six months ago. I find myself entering a new position with a new company and I’ve had the time to prepare for a work-from-home situation. One of the needs I identified early on was the need for a high-quality web camera for video conferences. When I’m at my desk, I like to have my MacBook plugged into a dock and connected to an external monitor. Therefore, an external web camera was necessary. I ended up turning to the Jabra PanaCast as my camera of choice. 

DETAILS

The Jabra PanaCast is the world’s first intelligent 180º Panoramic 4K plug-and-play video solution. The PanaCast is designed to work with all the leading video and audio conferencing solutions. It’s certified for use with Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Some of the other systems it works with include Cisco Webex, Slack, and Skype. Traditional video conferencing cameras don’t typically provide a full view of the room it’s viewing. The PanaCast covers a full 180 degrees. Because the PanaCast can view the entire room, it works really well for social distancing in smaller rooms when a meeting is called for. One of the other main features of the PanaCast is Intelligent Zoom. This feature makes it possible for the camera to focus on individual people in the room so that it optimizes screen real estate. Even though the PanaCast does have a built-in microphone, you can pair it with the Jabra Speak 710 for an optimal video and audio experience. Jabra designed the PanaCast to be plug-and-play so that no matter where you are or what computer you are using, the PanaCast can be used. 

SPECS

Field of View: Horizontal 180º/Vertical 54º
Number of Cameras: 3
Light Control: Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness, and White Balance
Stitching Technology: Dynamic real-time stitching technology, running in the onboard PanaCast Vision Processor
Supported Resolutions: Panoramic 4K – 3840 x 1080 @ 30fps, 1080 Full HD – 1920 x 1080 @ 30fps, 720p HD – 1280 x 720 @ 30fps
Microphones: 2 built-in
Camera Control: Electronic Pan-Tilt-Zoom (ePTZ)
Adjustable Field of View: Choose between 90º, 120º, 140º, and 180º through Jabra Direct
Flexible Mount: For easy placement on top of your monitor or laptop
USB plug-and-play: USB-C port
Power: Powered by USB 3.0 cable
System requirements:
Windows 7 or above
macOS X 10.9 or above
Linux Ubuntu 16.x or above
Chrome OS
USB 3.0 (supports USB 2.0 through the Jabra USB hub)
Certifications: Microsoft Teams
Compatibility: Zoom, Cisco Webex, Slack, Google Hangouts, and more.
Packaging dimensions (L x W x H): 155 x 90 x 45 mm / 6.1 x 3.5 x 1.8 inch
Main unit dimension (L x W x H): 102 x 67 x 20 mm / 4 x 2.6 x 0.8 inch 
Weight: 3.53 oz / 100 g
Box contents: Camera, USB-C to USB-A cable (1 m/3 ft)
Warranty: 2 years
Optional accessories: Table stand (adjustable height: 152-317 mm / 6-12.5 inch), wall mount, 1.8 m cable, USB hub
Operating temperature: 0° C to 30° C
Operating humidity: 15% to 85% (non-condensing)

USER EXPERIENCE

Jabra makes using the PanaCast super easy. The packaging is minimal and it’s ready to go right out of the box. Jabra commercial packaging is usually adorned in the Jabra brand colors (gray and yellow), but the PanaCast’s box is a simple cardboard box with an illustration of the product on the front. When you open the box, you will find the camera sitting just under the lid. There is a message in the lid of the box that reads:

“To get the full potential of the Jabra PanaCast camera and the ability to keep the firmware up to date, please download the Jabra Direct software to your computer.” 

Because I have other Jabra products that use that software, I didn’t have to download it as it was already on my computer. When I plugged the PanaCast into my dock, my MacBook Pro recognized it immediately. The device appeared in the Jabra Direct software, too. I was notified by the application that there was a firmware update available. So, I selected the update and within about 60 seconds, the firmware update was complete. There is no paper manual included in the box with the camera, but users can download it from jabra.com

Because this camera is really designed to be used in a conference room setting, the manual suggests mounting the camera on the wall or mounting it using the Jabra PanaCast Table Stand. The screw head on the bottom of the camera is a 1/4-20, which works with most tripods. I happen to have a small, handheld tripod that I use with my smartphone and with a Lume Cube for extra lighting when I’m taking product shots. It worked perfectly for the PanaCast, too. One area for improvement would indeed be in the mounting area. I would love to see there be an adapter for a monitor, too. I think that even though it’s designed for room use, it can be incredibly beneficial for individual use, too. With that in mind, it would be great to be able to mount the camera on a monitor. I actually used a self-adhesive mounting strip to secure the camera to my monitor. I went through several Zoom meetings with the camera mounting in this way and it worked beautifully. 

I’ve been very impressed with how well the PanaCast works with conference software like Zoom. The Zoom app automatically recognized that the PanaCast was connected and selected it as the primary camera for the meetings I was participating in. As far as audio goes, the aforementioned Jabra Speak 710 is a solid choice if you have multiple people sitting in on the meeting in person. The speakerphone functionality of the Jabra Speak 710 is exceptional and because it’s so portable, it pairs nicely with the PanaCast. An alternative to the speakerphone is to use a set of Bluetooth headphones as your audio source. I tend to lean toward this option since I’m working in a house where two other adults are living. With this in mind, I would recommend the Jabra Evolve2 85. They are comfortable and like the PanaCast, the headphones are designed to work with video conferencing. 

The Intelligent Zoom feature on the PanaCast works exceptionally well. Even though I’m sequestered to work at home alone, I’ve noticed how well the camera tracks me and adjusts to my space accordingly. This means I am sending out the best picture possible and not just a room full of empty space. I did happen to notice that if the camera is left plugged in, it will get warm. I took a reading off of the surface of the camera after it has been plugged in for approximately 1 hour and the infrared thermometer registered a temperature of 105º. While this isn’t a concerning level of heat, it is certainly warm to the touch. I would actually recommend unplugging the camera when it’s not in use so that you don’t have to worry about overheating it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Jabra PanaCast is an advanced option for video conferencing and it works great. It is a pricey option for personal use (MSRP $595 at the time of publishing this article),  but for corporate use, it’s fantastic. As I mentioned I would like to see a few changes made to make it just a bit more universally friendly depending on how it’s being used, but I think that overall, it’s an amazing piece of technology that can really help people connect. 

For more information, visit jabra.com, Facebook, and Twitter.