ClearOne Unite 20 Pro Webcam review

REVIEW – I’ve been following ClearOne, Inc. and its predecessor companies for over 20 years (back when they supplied both Oprah! and The White House with switchboard / call management hardware and software), so when I was offered the chance to review one of their Unite 20 web / conference cameras, I jumped at the chance to see how their new desktop-level cameras would work in our new work-from-home reality (well, not really new to me, I’ve been working from home for many years).

What is it?

The ClearOne Unite 20 Camera is a USB 2.0 web / desktop conferencing camera.  The Unite 20 differs from many other cameras in the it offers not just 1920 x 1080 resolution, but a 120 degree horizontal field of view. This wide angle capability allows the camera to serve as both a personal conferencing camera and conferencing camera for small meeting rooms.

What’s in the box?

As the Unite 20 is targeted for business-to-business sales or through integrators, the packaging is utilitarian: a simple brown box with the product name, part number, and serial number on a small sticker.

Once you open the box, you are greeted with a packing system that values function over flash.

The Unite 20 camera ships as just a camera with integrated USB cable, a removable monitor grip / friction mount, a tethered lens cover, and a quick start card.

Hardware specs

The ClearOne Unite 20 camera’s hardware specifications are (lifted from the technical datasheet on ClearOne’s website.

Video System

  • 1080P Full HD
  • – Sensor: 1/2.7’’, CMOS, Effective Pixel: 2.07M
  • – Scanning Mode: Progressive
  • – Lens: Focus: f=2.8mm, FOV: 120°
  • – Minimal Illumination: 0.05 Lux @ (F1.8, AGC ON)
  • – Shutter: 1/30s – 1/10000s
  • – White Balance: Auto, Indoor, Outdoor, One Push, Manual
  • – Backlight Compensation: Supported
  • – Digital Noise Reduction: 2D & 3D Digital Noise Reduction
  • – Horizontal Angle of View: Wide angle up to 120°
  • – Easy Installation: Equipped with damped rotary shaft bracket to fit almost any display, easy to install, stable and reliable.

USB Features

  • Operating Systems
  • Windows® 7 (1080p and under only)
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10 or higher
  • macOS™ 10.10 or higher
  • Google™ Chromebook™ Version 29.0.1547.70 or higher
  • 2.4 GHz Intel® Core 2 Duo processor or higher
  • 2 GB RAM or more
  • USB 2.0 port
  • Color System /Compression: H.265 / H.264 / MJPEG
  • Video Format: 1080p@30fps/25fps, 720p30/25, 960x540p30/25, 640x360p30/25
  • USB Video Communication Protocol: UVC 1.0 ~ UVC 1.5 (Optional)

Input/Output Interface

  • USB Interface: 1xUSB 2.0: Type A

Generic Specifications

  • Input Voltage: 5v (USB power supply)
  • Operating Temperature: 14°F ~ 104°F (0°C ~ 40°C)
  • Storage Temperature: -40°F ~ 140°F (-40°C ~ 60°C)
  • Weight: 0.093 kg (Without bracket) 0.2 kg (with bracket)
  • Dimensions: 4.65”x1.46”x 1.21” (118mm x 37.2mm x 30.8mm)

Personal notes

  • My measurements have the camera and bracket weighing in at 160.5 grams and the camera and integrated USB cable weighing in at 86.5 grams.
  • There are two microphones on the front of the camera (one on each side of the lens). These are quite sensitive and can pick up voices / sounds throughout the room (and beyond, my wife sneezed in another room while I was online with one of my students, and my student responded with “bless you” thinking that I had sneezed). They provide limited stereo separation.

  • The documentation that accompanies the camera implies that the USB cable is a separate part, but on the review unit it appears to be integrated to the camera.

  • The monitor bracket has a threaded insert in the bottom for tripod mounting, and the bracket has an adjustable connection between the bracket and the camera.

  • The whole bracket may be removed so the camera may be used with a separate mounting system.

Design and features

Setup

Setting up the Unite 20 involves nothing more than

  1. removing the camera from it’s protective shipping pouch
  2. removing the wire tie from the USB cable
  3. plugging the cable into a free USB 2.0 or higher port (USB type A plug)
  4. finding a place to mount your camera

Performance

The Unite 20 camera has performed flawlessly over the past month.  I have run into intermittent problems with certain video conferencing solutions not wanting to recognize the camera and instead trying to use the camera integrated into my 4-year-old Thinkpad. This problem has been limited to web-based solutions, such as Jitsi and the online classrooms of Wyzant.  Both of Jitsi and Wyzant have caused me problems in the past and often switching browsers from Firefox to Chrome or vice-versa will solve the problem. I have had no problems with either WebEx or Zoom.

I have been able to record some instructional video for some of my tutoring students using the Unite 20 and a whiteboard (I’m an old-school engineer, I have to draw things out) for times when my student’s platform of choice didn’t support live annotations or have a digital white-board. These videos are too dull to share with a wider audience for safety reasons (I don’t want people nodding off and falling out of their chairs), but I did record a brief video showing the low-light capabilities of the Unite 20.

Unfortunately, my computer / software combination doesn’t support recording from this camera at full 1920 x 1080 resolution. he Unite 20. I apologize for my presentation in the video. I don’t regularly appear on camera, so my delivery is a bit uneven.

Because of my current monitor / speaker setup, it was not practical to mount the Unite 20 on the top of my monitor, so I removed the monitor bracket from the bottom of the camera (one screw) which reveals a standard receiver screw for a small tripod / other mount. I could have used the screw receive on the bottom of the bracket, but I didn’t care for the aesthetics.

What I like

  • Wide field of view
  • Good low-light capabilities — I desk is in my library, so there is no natural light (to protect the books and artwork) and I rely on task lights mounted low over my work space
  • Included tethered lens cover

What needs to be improved

  • Removable USB cable
  • Drivers (TWAIN or similar) to allow the camera to be used to capture images

Final thoughts

The ClearOne Unite 20 camera is an excellent addition to my home office communications suite. Both the audio and video features for web conferencing are the best that I’ve encountered for a device at this price point.  I did have to dial the wide angle settings back for video conferencing so I didn’t have to de-clutter so much of my workspace.

Disclaimer

My wife was an employee of one of ClearOne’s predecessor companies, and she still holds ClearOne stock. She does not hold a significant amount of stock, nor is she involved in either tactical or strategic planning for ClearOne.

Price: $ 129.99 MSRP
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by ClearOne.

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13 thoughts on “ClearOne Unite 20 Pro Webcam review”




  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. According to ClearOne, yes, but I did not personally confirm.

    From the product literature:

    “Use with PC or laptop and web-conferencing applications such as ClearOne’s COLLABORATE® Space, Microsoft® Teams, Zoom™, WebEx™, GoToMeeting™, and others.”

  3. How is the sound within the two mics in the front of the camera?

    Does one need to switch to a separate mic for better quality sound? Can one switch to their 5.1 speaker system with this webcam?

    Or is the hardware and software too limited?

    I am trying to buy one of these webcams, but everyone is stubborn in support and if a return is required for defect, nickle and diming me with things like: restocking fees, etc.

    I am not looking for a wider angled lens, which is my number one need, to buy, play around with and say well let’s return it. Don’t want those hassles and want something that is solid in video and audio. I don’t even need it for; streaming, recording, etc, but for wider view when video/audio chatting with others through: Skype, Zoom, etc.

    How long ago did you do this review and are you still using the ClearOne Unite 20 webcam and loving it?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

    Mo

    1. Mo,
      I’ve been using the Unite 20 for about 10 weeks.

      The people that are on the other end of my video conferences say the sound quality from the built-in microphones is good (I don’t know what their criteria are though). I occasionally get up and move around during calls and there have been no complaints about loss of sound quality. I was using a Blue Yeti for audio-only conferences, but I’ve switched to just using the Unite 20’s microphones for those.

      I personally use an external speaker system that is not integrated into either my laptop or my monitor for playback. It works well. I had to do a little bit of fiddling when placing the camera to make sure that I didn’t have a speaker aimed right at the camera’s microphones. The audio playback is a function of your computer or teleconferencing system not the camera. My camera came with no software.

      I don’t stream or make videos as a general rule, I primarily use my camera for personal (as opposed to professional) meetings, scout meetings, teaching, etc. using Zoom, Jit.si, and Wyzant. The wide-angle lens is a bit too wide for just me, but when I have used it for family Zoom meetings, the wide-angle lens has been very useful.

      Re: reseller policies, because this is a product aimed at business purchasers, the resellers tend to be a bit less flexible on testing and returns (they want to sell you on-site consulting services as part of a bundle with hardware and software, in my experience). This is the nature of their business.

      I hope this information is useful to you.

      1. Very helpful. Thanks Matt!

        I do use my 5.1 speakers when Skyping or Zooming. It is me and my parents, 3 of us, trying to cram into my old Logitech C510 limited angle webcam and sister on the other end, does not have much of a wide angle. Why I was looking into this one, but not familiar with this brand.

        Someone mentioned from Youtube to me that this webcam does not have echo cancellation via built in mics. Has their been any experience of hearing what you are saying or the other person twice? This happens with our landline phones on occasion and I hate it. Lol.

        Should I get the Unite 20? I would also be using it for only personal reasons and not business.

        Thanks so much!

        Mo

        1. Mo,

          ClearOne started as two companies: ClearOne (East Coast) and Gentner Communications (Utah). ClearOne a long history in the broadcast arena (originally radio / TV call-in switchboard hardware, later moving to software-based systems) and corporate teleconferencing (back when everyone called into a central switchboard). They are better known in the business space than in the consumer space.
          The Unite 20 is a evolution of their product offerings.
          Regarding echo cancellation, the specifications are silent on this, so I would assume that the camera has no onboard noise cancellation. The Unite 20 is heavily marketed as part of a total ecosystem from ClearOne, but also as a tool to use with Zoom, WebEx, Teams, and other advanced conferencing / collaborative tools that have good echo cancellation.
          I have not noticed any echoing with Zoom, but a little bit with Meet.Jit.si, but only with 1 particular person (and we have other audio issues on his side), so I don’t know if it is the Unite 20 or things on the other end.

          I can’t make the purchase decision for you, but this camera is really positioned as a SOHO / business camera rather than a consumer camera. This means that tech support is going to be during business hours and aimed at helping the tech-savvy.

          1. Matt,
            You have; a/an elegant, smooth and wonderful way with words that keeps the reader wanting more. 🙂
            Thank you for educating me on the company and it’s startings and where they are now.
            You are helping me make a more informed decision on whether to try this camera out or not. My answer is yes, but not sure who to purchase from as far as: honest, non gouger, reliable, etc. vendor.
            As you mentioned, you can’t make a purchase decision for me, can you recommend where to purchase from?
            I do have somewhat of a techy background and not entirely in the dark in that area. So, hopefully if/when I purchase this webcam, I won’t be struggling with set up. I take it, since you mentioned no software comes with the camera, it is plug and play?
            Thanks!
            Mo

        2. Every Webcam in the world with inbuilt mic does not do echo cancellation. If you are looking for the same, you may want to look at Clearone Chat 50, Chat 150 which does echo ccancellation and noise cancellation

  4. Based on a quick Google search and my personal experiences with some of the vendors, I would go with one of the following sources:

    B & H Photo
    CDW

    I have made many purchases at B & H from $2 adapters to $1300 camera lenses. CDW has been around for decades and is a reputable reseller. I’ve used CDW for both personal and business purchases for going on 20 years.

    However, both show the camera as out-of-stock.

  5. I saw lists of complaints with CDW and B & H Photo on past research. Perhaps, you had great results with them considering your history of ordering through both companies, esp CDW

    It’s OK on sold out. I am staying away from sites like Amazon. Had a scam seller on last time ordering and NOW hesitant in purchasing from there.

    You’ve been stellar!

    I may lean toward CDW since they have fewer complaints then B & H.

    Thanks so much!

    Mo

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