Hardly any other time has digital solutions been so much in focus in the work context as in 2021. The corona pandemic literally forced a rethink, but it also brought positive things with it: for example new ideas and innovations.
The audio manufacturer Jabra has set itself the task of making video communication more innovative and simpler. The solution should be called Jabra PanaCast. Equipped with three cameras, the webcam enables a field of view of 180 degrees.
Jabra PanaCast & Jabra Speak 750MS Review
In this article you can find out how this works in practice and for whom the purchase is worthwhile. As a practical addition, we have also taken a closer look at the corresponding Jabra Speak 750MS hands-free solution. The packaging of the Jabra PanaCast is small, handy and made of cardboard. In it are:
- The Jabra PanaCast
- An USB-C to USB-A cable
- Paper inserts
Handy & Environmental Conscious
The corresponding hands-free solution Jabra Speak 750 MS also comes in a small box. This also includes a USB Bluetooth adapter and a travel case. I think it’s great that Jabra has opted for a space-saving and environmentally friendly packaging variant. The content-related reduction to the essentials also underlines the plug-and-play character of the camera.
When I held the webcam in my hand for the first time, I was surprised: with dimensions of 102 by 67 by 20 millimeters, the PanaCast is downright tiny. Nevertheless, it makes a high-quality and solid impression due to its weight of 100 grams and the shimmering metal accents.
When it comes to the visual design, Jabra takes a minimalist approach. The camera is completely black, only the built-in light strip and the Jabra logo set a contrast. I looked in vain for buttons or switches here, I could only find a USB-C port that was necessary for the connection.
The unusual shape of the PanaCast is really striking. Viewed from the front, it looks more like a futuristic flying object than a webcam. This design not only creates a high recognition value, the choice could also have been pragmatic:
With the help of the foot attached to the bottom, the camera is quite stable and can be aligned upwards or downwards. In our test, we placed it on a table; theoretically, thanks to an already integrated recess, it can also be screwed directly to the wall.
Something similar can be said about the look of the Jabra Speak. This is also in black, only the speaker itself has a chrome finish. With the integrated stand, you can adjust the round hands-free solution as you wish. The different operating options light up when activated on the housing and can be selected by touch.
In my opinion, the design of the PanaCast embodies exactly what Jabra calls the “first intelligent plug-and-play video solution”: simplicity, uniqueness and practicality. The Jabra Speak 750 is also matched to the camera. As a result, the two devices in combination create a coherent overall picture. Thanks to their handy format and the built-in base, they can also be flexibly positioned and easily transported.
4K Good Camera View
Where other webcams deliver pixelated images, Jabra focuses on quality with the PanaCast. The handy device is connected using a USB-C to USB-A cable. The built-in camera sensors support resolutions of up to 4K. More precisely, videos with up to 3840 x 1080 pixels (px) are recorded with a maximum of 30 frames per second (fps).
The specialty of the Jabra PanaCast, however, lies in its panorama function. The integration of three cameras creates a horizontal field of view of 180 degrees, vertically it is 54 degrees. This feature simplifies video telephony in meetings in particular, as several people can be conveniently recorded using a single device. In addition, the distance to the camera is reduced, which means that there is no need to use a particularly large meeting room table.
The camera automatically detects how many people are in the picture and crops it accordingly. It also automatically adjusts brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness and white balance. The webcam also has two integrated microphones. In our test, however, we used the built-in microphones in the Jabra Speak 750.
The Jabra Speak 750 can also be connected to the notebook via a USB-A cable (integrated in the device). It is also possible to connect the hands-free solution via Bluetooth. The range is 30 meters when the USB Bluetooth adapter is used and 10 meters without the Bluetooth adapter.
We also included the Speak 750 in the test in order to experience the best possible call quality. The built-in full duplex sound system ensures that the person you are speaking to can still be understood even if you are speaking at the same time. The integrated omnidirectional microphone also picks up sounds from all directions. This means that up to six people on the other end of the line can be clearly understood.
The Practical Test
So much for theory, but what does practice say? We tested both PanaCast and Speak 750 in Microsoft Teams with three people: my test partner on one end, my colleague on the other end of the line. The platform was chosen based on the speaker’s Microsoft Teams certification. Theoretically, however, both devices can be used on numerous other platforms, for example Zoom, Skype, Panopto or Slack.
The connection was straightforward in our test. After connecting the PanaCast and the Speak 750 , the test devices only had to be set up in Microsoft Teams as a camera, microphone and loudspeaker, and then we could start. After the video call began, the PanaCast automatically recognized the number of conversation partners in front of the camera and selected a meaningful image section. Our conversation partner immediately noticed the good image quality. The fear that the wide-angle function could cause distortions at the edge of the image was not true. Rather, the unusually wide viewing angle created a certain wow factor.
Thanks to the Speak 750MS, we were able to clearly understand Johanna at all times. In my opinion, there was a clear improvement in the quality of the call compared to normal notebook speakers.
My partner also understood us clearly at the other end. Because the microphone was now a little further away than the notebook is usually, we sometimes had to speak a little louder. Nevertheless, a natural atmosphere for conversation emerged. Above all, the sense of community that prevails in a face-to-face meeting was stronger when sharing a camera than when using individual notebook cameras. In addition, due to its 180 degree orientation, the PanaCast never had to be rotated to show who was speaking.
So everything is great? Not quite: At one point, Jabra’s pioneering idea seems less progressive. In my opinion, this concerns the connection of the PanaCast. Because while the Speak 750 can be connected wirelessly to the communication device without any problems, the PanaCast can only do this via the supplied USB-C to USB-A cable.
But what exactly is a problem with that? On the one hand, notebooks are equipped with fewer and fewer connections these days. Although you can adapter remedy this situation (for example, USB-A to USB-C adapter), but only to a certain extent. If you want to use a USB mouse in a meeting, for example, and supply the notebook with power, things will get tight.
On the other hand, the cable was often in the way during the test. Either the camera wobbled or got inclined due to the twisted cable and the narrow base. If you also want to take notes with the connected notebook during the call, you always have to keep the length of the cable in mind or think about extending the cable.
Jabra PanaCast & Jabra Speak 750MS: The Future Has Its Price
In my opinion, Jabra is doing a lot right with the PanaCast. The webcam is particularly suitable for meeting situations nowadays due to the wide recording angle, since minimum distances can also be adhered to without any problems. Jabra also makes setting up both devices very easy. The Jabra Direct application can be downloaded for your own adjustments, but does not have to be. Because of this and the many supported platforms, both the Jabra Speak 750 and PanaCast are very user-friendly.
In the end, everyone has to decide for themselves to what extent the acquisition of the video conference solution is actually worthwhile. However, the device is aimed more at companies than at private customers. This can also be seen in the price: The Jabra PanaCast is currently available for 1,065 euros, the Speak 750MS is priced at 346.84 euros.
- Handy and transportable
- Intuitive operation
- Exceptional image quality
- Practicability in a work context
- Cable connection necessary
- High price