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The 2014 Panopto Gift Guide — Video Devices, Tools and Accessories We Love

We’ve made our list. Checked it twice. And this year, we’ve got just the thing for everyone nice.

Snowman and CameraOur offices here at Panopto are a veritable Santa’s Workshop for video equipment. We’ve got camcorders and webcams aplenty. Document cameras, DSLRs, and mobile devices galore. We’ve got cables and connectors, converters and compressors. We’ve got lights. We’ve got mics. We’ve got tripods and teleprompters and toolsets and more.

If you can use it to produce video, it’s a good bet we’ve tested it to make sure our video platform works well with it.

And from all that equipment, we’ve found a few favorites — a few tools that the team here at Panopto goes to time and again when we’re making our own videos. And in the spirit of the season, we wanted to share some of our favorites with you.

Trust us, if you’ve got someone on your list who lives for video, these are the stocking stuffers that will make them smile.

The 2014 Panopto Video Gift Guide

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
Logitech c920 - Panopto Video PlatformFlipping a classroom? Recording a post-sales call follow-up? Sharing meeting notes or a presentation online for your team? You want a high-quality versatile webcam — and that’s just what we like about the C920. Right out of the box it can record and live stream smooth high-def video in up to 1080p, it captures audio in stereo with ambient noise suppression, and integrates seamlessly with Panopto, Skype, Google Hangouts and more. We’ve tested dozens of webcams over the years — this is the one sitting over our monitor as we’re typing right now.

SANOXY USB over Cat5/5e/6 Extension Cable RJ45 Adapter Set
Sanoxy USB Cable Adapter Set - Panopto Video PlatformThis little $4 wonder makes it simple to extend the distance of any USB device (say, a camera or a microphone) up to 50 feet away from your computer. For any recording use where it’s valuable to have the camera in the back of the room but the laptop up front with the professor or presenter, these little converters help eliminate serious headaches.

Bodelin SeeEye2Eye Webcam Teleprompter
SeeEye2Eye Webcam TeleprompterSome videos just need to be scripted — but when you’re recording with your webcam, reading from the script means looking away from the camera. Unless you’ve got a webcam teleprompter like the SeeEye2Eye. This handy little tool mounts right over your external webcam (there’s a version that works with built-in webcams too), making it easy to read right from your notes without breaking eye contact. Unfortunately Bodelin has discontinued the current version while it puts the finishing touches on a new generation — so we’re giving you both the link to wait for the new version, and one to find the old version from a reseller.

Videssence ViewMe Video Chat Lighting Kit
Videssence ViewMe Video Chat Lighting KitGreat lighting is key to great video. If you’ve never tried it, take your regular webcam or camcorder and record a few quick sessions, varying the lighting each time. You’ll be surprised how much the image quality changes depending on your lighting. These handy little fluorescent lights from Videssence aren’t the least expensive option, but they are quick, portable, and best of all, always flattering. They’re a great way to improve the visual quality of your video — without touching the video technology at all.

Samson Meteor USB Mic
Samson Meteor USB MicIf you’re looking to step up the audio quality in your recordings and live broadcasts without spending a bundle, Samson’s Meteor USB Studio Condenser Mic is a great bet. It combines a cardioid pickup pattern with big condenser diaphragm so that you get rich sound without a lot of background noise. It also includes a stereo headphone jack so that you can listen to what the mic is picking up and ensure you sound great before you hit “record.” Two additional benefits? First, the mic is beautiful. It’s got a chrome-plated body that is reminiscent of vintage studio microphones. Second, it’s portable. With the adjustable legs folded up, the mic fits in the palm of your hand and is perfect for video and audio recordings on the go.

Sony CX-900 HD Camcorder
Sony CX-900 HD CamcorderAt $1,300, Sony’s prosumer HD camcorder doesn’t exactly fall into the category of stocking-stuffer. However, when we’re looking for broadcast-quality video in an easy-to-use handheld camera, this is our new go-to device. What sets the Sony apart is its large 1” sensor. It’s between 4 and 8x larger than many handheld camcorders, and that translates into more cinematic-quality video with a shallow depth-of-field. The other area where the camera shines is in low-light. Even if you’re capturing video in a dimly lit room, the camera’s sensor allows it to draw in more available light without introducing visible noise. The camera’s autofocusing is very smooth, and it includes a 12x optical zoom for shooting a range of subjects.

Magewell XI100D HDMI to USB 3.0 Video Capture Dongle
Magewell XI100D HDMI to USB Video Capture DongleMore and more video cameras, from GoPros to the Sony CX-900, come equipped to output video over HDMI. HDMI output is great for capturing high quality video, but it’s not as easy to plug into your desktop or laptop as a USB webcam. Enter the Magewell series of HDMI to USB converters. These palm-sized boxes allow you to stream video directly from your HDMI-capable camera into your laptop via a USB 3.0 port. It’s the easiest way to use higher-end cameras like the CX-900 with your Panopto laptop, both for on-demand video capture as well as live streaming. Magewell offers a variety of options from the single HD option shown here up to dual-HD and six-SD video options.

Have Another Favorite? Let Us Know!
Have another device, tool, or other piece of video equipment you find yourself using over and over again? Tell us your favorites on Twitter (we’re @Panopto, of course), or below, in the comments!

The Complete Panopto Equipment Guide

Looking for recommendations on how to outfit your business or school for video in full? The Panopto Equipment Guide is a list of seven bundles detailing the exact equipment you need to capture a variety of recording scenarios. The guide diagrams exactly how the devices connect together, and also gives you the option to purchase each bundle from a third party vendor. Check it out on our support site today!

Happy Holidays from Panopto!

From our families to yours, wishing you bright lighting, clear audio, and a safe and happy holiday season.