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Coolpo 360 video conference camera review: Facial tracking features and panoramic room view

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Written by Eileen Brown on
Coolpo 360 web conference camera review fabulous facial tracking features and panoramic room view zdnet
9.2

Coolpo AI Huddle Pana

Spectacular
$699 at Amazon
Like
  • Active speaker tracking
  • Panoramic view
  • Ultra-simple set up
Don't Like
  • Easy to power off when lifting unit

The Coolpo AI Huddle Pana 360 video conferencing camera is the perfect conferencing webcam for small and medium offices. Easy to set up and use, the Pana delivers an enhanced view of participants in the room and works across almost all web conferencing platforms.

Inside the box, there is the camera, a USB cable, and a power cable. There is also a silicone lens cover for the Pana. Its dimensions are 11.42 x 4.33 x 4.33 inches, and it weighs 4 pounds.

Also in the box is a user guide that initially appears to be lacking in detail. However, the user guide says how easy it is to set up the speaker using plug and play -- with minimal extra configuration. I was a little dubious.

However, all you need to do is take the Pana out of the box and set it on your conference table. Plug it into the power outlet and plug the version 3 USB-A cable into your PC. Switch it on using the power button in the middle of the unit.

In your videoconferencing software (Blue Jeans, GoToMeeting, Hangouts/Meet, Skype, Slack, Teams, Webex, or Zoom) configure the Pana to be your web conferencing speaker and that's it. The Pana was a joy to use and so simple to set up.

Settings such as digital noise reduction, BLC (Back Light Compensation), Exposure mode, and white balance are all handled automatically. BLC splits the view captured by the camera into different regions and uses a different exposure setting for different levels of light.

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The Pana has a 360 degree HD fish-eye camera on the top of the unit which delivers a view of the entire room. The camera can be configured for 4k at 3840 x 2160p at 30fps, 1920 x 1080p, or 1280 x 720p HD.

The camera digitally pans 360 degrees horizontally and will view up to 60-degree in its vertical field of view. Its image sensor is a 1.7 inch CMOS 1200mp and the camera has a 1.56mm focal length.

At the base, four microphones pick up spoken words up to 15 feet. The speakers will also track who is speaking and the camera will swivel round to focus on the person speaking with minimal delay. Making a clapping noise with your hands does not confuse the camera. It stays focused on the person's face.

At the base of the camera there is a breathing light that shows steady blue when the camera is not connected, but cycles from blue, purple, pink, and red when a video conference is in progress.

The Pana will work with Windows PCs above version 7, and Mac OS of 10.15.4 and above.

In use, the Pana shows an enhanced view of the web conference session. As someone starts to speak the view swivels to show the active speaker. It seems like the camera is panning as the fish-eye lens focuses on the active speaker.

If the active speaker moves around the room, the camera follows their voice. The active speaker window is bordered in red so you can track who is speaking.

If you have multiple people chatting at the same time, the Pana can get confused and switch from speaker to speaker. Also, if the radio is playing, the speaker will try and track the radio. However, it quickly moves back to the active speaker in the conference.

Other features available in the software upgrade include picture mode layout, brightness, colour, contrast and saturation, lock on a certain area of the screen and block the part of the image that you do not want to show on the screen.

I looked hard to find a criticism of the unit, and the only niggle I have is that, if you want to pick up the Pana and move it to a different part of the conference table, you might inadvertently turn off the power to the unit. The power switch is in the middle of the Pana -- just where you would naturally grip it.

Apart from that, at under $600 for a top-quality video conferencing solution, there is much to love with the Coolpo AI Huddle Pana video conference camera. It makes web conferencing as simple as plug-in and play.

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