BACK IN 2020, when coronavirus forced employees out of offices and into their homes, I reviewed Jabra’s PanaCast videoconferencing solution. It’s the size of a normal webcam but packed with three separate cameras (intelligently stitched together) to form a 180-degree view in a compact area, perfect for small meeting spaces. It’s still a neat solution, and hopefully one that garners more attention as employees return to offices and in-person meetings.
Fast forward to new products in the PanaCast line. First is the PanaCast 50, which is a souped-up version of the original with better video and vastly superior audio capture intended for larger meeting rooms. The second, PanaCast 20, is what caught my eye because it strays from group conferencing and instead focuses on the individual, claiming to be “engineered for intelligent AI-enabled personal videoconferencing.”
There’s hardly a lack of competition in the personal webcam market, so how does Jabra’s take stack up?
Out of the Box
The PanaCast 20 ships in a well-made gray cardboard box with the firm’s distinct yellow accents, covered with a second layer of cardboard that slides off the top. Do so, and you’re treated to some friendly advice about downloading their software (more on this later) and a reminder that you can get 20% off your next purchase if you register your device. So, it’s not only a box, but also a coupon. Neat.
With a flip of the lid, you’re treated to a warranty book in more languages than I thought existed and a zippered travel case containing the PanaCast 20. The case is excellent, with a form-fitted area in the center for the camera and a circular area around to hold the USB cable. There’s also a little pocket on the inside—perfect for taking that warranty book along to brush up on your Romanian and Korean while out and about.
The PanaCast 20
The PanaCast 20 looks and feels like the Rolls Royce of webcams: impeccable build quality, distinctive look, and a relatively compact size for a high-end webcam. The textured top (which likely serves as a heatsink in disguise) and matte black finish are elegant. The 4K video sensor rests behind a security shutter operated by a tiny switch on the bottom of the camera, another nice touch.
The camera grips the computer screen using the foldout clip on the bottom of the device. It’s got a firm hinge and a thick enough gap that most users shouldn’t have trouble attaching it to their desktop or laptop monitor. There’s also a thread mount for stands and tripods.
Setup is as easy as most webcams. Like it’s three-eyed sibling, the PanaCast 20 connects via USB-3.0 from a USB-C connection along the back-bottom of the unit. USB 2.0 is supported so long as the port can provide 500 mA of power. Once plugged in, the PanaCast 20 will operate using the default settings, but like the box top suggests, users should install the Jabra Connect software utility. It provides the ability to update the device’s firmware and change settings, plus unlock features of the webcam that are otherwise inaccessible.