Maxhub UC M40 review: The big picture
Maxhub’s clever little panoramic camera delivers video meetings at a great price
Small offices and mobile workers that want a videoconferencing (VC) solution that puts everyone in shot will love Maxhub’s UC M40. This slim metal baton sports a 5-megapixel 4K camera with four lenses arranged around the top to deliver a full 360-degree panoramic field of view (FoV).
Measuring 68mm on each side and only 182mm tall, the UC M40 is one of the smallest panoramic cameras we’ve seen, and its 450g weight makes it highly portable. This compactness doesn’t come at the cost of features, either, as the UC M40 is very well endowed.
Inside is an array of four omnidirectional mics used for active speaker tracking. You can see these in action as the upper surface has a circular blue indicator that shows where it has detected a voice.
There’s much more to this camera than an all-round view, however. In Standalone mode its smart image manipulation offers a choice of seven different visual presentations. You don’t need to load any software, and you can swap between each view using the mode button located below the front lens.
The first two views link up with the camera’s active speaker tracking. The Discussion mode places a panoramic view along the bottom with views of the two most recent speakers above, while the Beamforming mode changes the two upper windows to a single 180-degree view that focuses on the current speaker.
The five other modes don’t use speaker tracking and offer a choice of single panoramic or split screen with different compositions of the four available views. The camera uses Maxhub’s “hyperstitching” technology to bring the lens images together and does a fine job. The only way we could see the joins was by moving our hand all the way around the camera body.
You can have even more fun by swapping to the Professional mode and using Maxhub’s PanoCAM Studio software to create up to seven custom views. These range from a Compose mode that combines a panorama with six close-up views of participants to a Presentation mode that can be used to show a whiteboard along with the active speaker.
In Standalone mode, we connected the camera’s USB port to a Windows 10 host computer and added power. You can use just a USB connection, but this only provides enough juice for the camera and will disable audio.
The UC M40 is UVC-compliant so will work with any VC app that supports this. We had no problems using it with Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Cisco WebEx. Video quality at 1080p is very good, with a sharp focus and good colour balance and, although the internal 3W speaker is small, we could clearly hear remote participants in our huddle room.
We found the Discussion and Beamforming modes worked perfectly, with the tracking views snapping instantly to the active speaker the moment they started talking. We were also impressed with the mic array’s ability to identify human voices and reject other sounds such as hand clapping, paper rustling and keyboard clatter.
The PanoCAM Studio software is equally easy to use and we had no problems designing a range of custom views. In Presentation mode, we could draw a box in the main panoramic view that we wanted the camera to focus on and activate facial tracking so it followed the presenter as they moved around.
To use the custom views in your preferred VC app, you’ll have to leave the software running in the background and select its Studio Camera device as the video source. It worked fine with Microsoft Teams, and a feature we really liked was the ability to swap between any of the six custom views during meetings.
Maxhub’s innovative UC M40 offers a refreshingly new perspective on video meetings. Easy to set up and use, it has a view for every occasion, good video quality, and is an affordable choice for small businesses.
Maxhub UC M40 specifications
5-megapixel quad lens 4K camera, 2,560 x 1,440 @ 30fps, 360-degree FoV
Quad omnidirectional mic array
External PSU with 1.5m cable, PanoCAM Studio software for Windows and Macs
68 x 68 x 182mm
3yr limited hardware warranty
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