Most computers, especially older ones, have pretty poor webcams or none at all. Add in poor camera positioning and the results can make you look rather unremarkable. Some of us may not care how we look on camera; for others, presenting yourself in the best possible light (pun intended) is important.
So for those looking to add a camera or upgrade their laptop’s, there’s the Jabra Panacast 20 webcam. (We also have a great guide to buying webcams in our sister publication Small Business Answers.)
Details: Jabra Panacast 20
|On||Jabra is a world leading audio and video brand. Part of the GN Group was founded 150 years ago in Copenhagen. Jabra focuses on hearing at the ear and is also one of the leading manufacturers of hearing aids. They sell to consumer, professional and medical markets around the world.|
Factors that webcam quality
While a higher quality webcam should produce better results than a cheap webcam, there are other factors that can impact your appearance:
Light – Having light on your face rather than light behind will make the biggest difference in how your photo looks to others. Some people even go to the trouble of using special lights to illuminate their face.
Placement – No one wants to see your nasal hair, and as such a camera placed higher up and looking down at your face will have a much more flattering effect.
internet speed – Your home’s internet speed as well as the person on the other end of the line will impact the quality of your video. Video conferencing software will reduce image quality on slow connections to maintain connectivity. High definition video requires around 5 Mbps, while ultra high definition (UHD or 4K) requires around 20 Mbps. If your home internet connection speed is slower, your camera will lower the resolution. Also keep in mind that your home internet connection speed will likely be shared with others, impacting your video streams.
Ethernet versus Wi-Fi – A computer connected by wired Ethernet will, in most cases, provide a more stable connection compared to a computer connected by Wi-Fi
video conferencing software – It may also affect the quality of the video call. Some are better than others, and a paid subscription is more likely to be better.
Setup and first impressions
Upon opening the Panacast box, I was surprised to see a small carrying case in addition to the USB cable and camera. Why would you need a carrying case? On second thought, in this flexible working world, it makes perfect sense to take the camera with you, ensuring you get the same great experience no matter where you are.
Setup was super simple, with plug and play functionality further enhanced by Jabra Direct software. Jabra Direct also uploads new firmware to the camera, which our test unit did during setup.
The Panacast 20 has a mechanism that allows it to be positioned on a monitor or laptop placed flat or attached to a standard tripod. You can also tilt it to find the right angle.
We noticed the device felt warm to the touch, even when not in use, compared to our other web camera. This heat is likely due to the heavy workload of capturing 4K video, however, that doesn’t explain why it gets so hot in slow motion.
Privacy-conscious people will be pleased with the physical privacy flap that can be slid with your finger. This blocks the lens so that nothing is visible. Also, it’s a quick way to mute your image while you sneeze.
What sets the Panacast 20 apart
Every TV you buy today is likely to be 4K capable, but very little content is consumed in 4K. This webcam supports 4K, but the reality is that most video conferencing platforms run in standard definition (SD) with the option to enable high definition (HD). 4K is 4 times the resolution of HD, which is 4 times the resolution of SD. This feature is more for the future or for those who want to make videos with the webcam in 4K. Also, consider that most people don’t use 4K monitors, which are quite expensive.
Earlier in the article we talked about the importance of light. Jabra is packed with intelligence that improves the illumination of your face. The following images show the difference between a 2 year old high end web camera and the Jabra. The Panacast doesn’t specifically call for this feature but I found an HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode in their settings. This allows the camera to handle bright light and shadows simultaneously, just like your eye does, but traditional cameras can’t. The images are screenshots of a Zoom call both in HD.
Picture quality is one thing, but sound is also essential. I don’t use headphones on calls, although you can. I thought the sound recording was excellent, and others commented on how clear I was.
We think the Panacast 20 would also work well for a small meeting room or if you like to get up and pace during a call. Panacast’s Smart Zoom feature automatically tracks your face and zooms in to keep you in frame.
If you do a lot of online presentations and want to show off something, Picture-in-Picture mode allows for a close second view, while putting you in a window so people can still see your face.
The Panacast 20 will work on all major unified communications platforms and is certified on Microsoft Teams and Zoom, delivering superior performance.
This webcam is not for your average worker unless the job is happy to pay for it. The Panacast 20 also has the highest resolution option at 4K. It uses artificial intelligence to improve lighting, has a great microphone, ensures you stay in frame, and offers a high-tech way to enhance presentations with Picture-in-Picture mode.
So if you do a lot of remote presentations, care about image quality, and want an out-of-the-box solution, this camera is an investment that will pay off. Jabra is committed to improving the product with software updates, and with 4K video already built in, you should be sure this webcam will last for many years to come.
The Jabra Panacast 20 is pricey but gives you professional features like 4K video, auto tracking and zooming, lighting enhancement and picture-in-picture.
Ability to operate in difficult lighting conditions to electronically enhance the illumination of your face
Smart zoom to follow your face and keep it centered as you move
Commitment to future features
One and a half times more expensive than comparable models
The camera seems to run very hot, indicating that it might be power hungry