For my typical day-to-day (even in the before times) I rely on a headset for background noise as I work, as well as for jumping onto MS Teams calls at work. While that’s great when you’re sitting on your own, sometimes you’ll have a handful of people needing to get on the same call. When you’re all at the office, having some sort of external puck is helpful to have (and at least, at my company, never easy to find). Enter the Anker PowerConf S500 Speakerphone.
On the surface of things, the Anker PowerConf S500 Speakerphone looks perfectly suited for it’s intended purpose – being used for conference calls. Of course, the proof is in the pudding, so you need to decide how you’re going to connect it up. For that, you’ve got three different options. You can go hardwired with a USB-C cable (which also charges the device), rely on the included USB-A dongle, or you can just connect using good ol’ Bluetooth. I used Bluetooth, and quickly and easily had it connected to both my work laptop and my cell phone.
Once it’s connected, it acts just like any other Bluetooth device you’d connect. On a laptop, you can choose what your inputs and outputs are, with the Anker PowerConf S500 Speakerphone wanting to take on that role. It is worth noting that if your company uses Zoom, this Anker is certified for use with Zoom. For myself, we use MS Teams, but it worked just as well. Easy enough to answer a call, and critically, mute/unmute. This works as expected, and gives you a nice, bright red LED line across the device when you’re muted. Hard to beat that sort of visual indicator.
In the setup I’ve got here at home, I’m down in the basement, not all that far from the furnace. When I was testing this out, I was curious to see how much noise would be picked up from it. The very surprising answer was very little. I’m not going to say it was like I was sitting in a silent room, but it did a good job focusing on picking up the voice, and ignoring other noises. In fact, it’s got some fancy processing in there to help it focus in on the voice – or voices – coming at it from within a room, and sort of targeting it’s mic at those voices.
On the output side, you’ve got a 10W speaker built into the Anker PowerConf S500 Speakerphone. No, it’s not going to outplay your home audio setup, but it does a rather good job in broadcasting a call into a room. Worth noting that it’s full duplex as well, so it can pick up your voice as another is broadcast from the speaker (without feedback loops). And hey, once the call is done, it works decently well to play some music or podcasts, just like any other Bluetooth speaker.
With it’s 6700 mAh battery, the Anker PowerConf S500 Speakerphone should be able to keep running – calls or music – for up to 16 hours. So, well more than enough to get you through a long day of work calls. And, once you’re back in the office, if you’ve got a large conference room to handle, you can have two of these working in concert to pick up everyone’s voices.
Oh, and you’ve also got two modes that you can use on the Anker PowerConf S500 Speakerphone (handled via the SmartPhone or desktop app, where you also upgrade the firmware). In the standard mode, you’ve got the normal full-duplex where you can talk back and forth. On the other hand, if you’re giving a presentation or running a class, you can put it into a broadcast mode, which helps keep things clear by muting folks on the other side of the conversation.
While the Anker PowerConf S500 Speakerphone is more aimed at the in-office setup, I did find it worked well in a home office setup as well. It does free you up from having a headset on, and the mic worked well for picking up my voice if I was moving around – so perfect for all you walk-and-talk folks. For me, I see something like this best suited for impromptu group calls, or even for getting the family around to call someone to wish them happy birthday. Whatever your use, the Anker PowerConf S500 Speakerphone is available for $219.99 directly from ankerwork.com
Details from Anker
- VoiceRadar™ Technology: PowerConf S500 speakerphone automatically focuses on voice sources in the room while eliminating unwanted noise. Speech is delivered without any of the echos and distractions of a hectic meeting room.
- Sensitive Voice Pickup: 4 microphones with 32KHz sampling rate transmit your voice in stunning definition and clarity. Full duplex communication ensures clear 2-way audio even when both ends are speaking simultaneously.
- Zoom Certified: Zoom Room certification means that PowerConf S500 meets Zoom’s highest professional standards. Their strictest tests say it delivers performance for rooms of up to 12 people.
- Hi-Fi Grade Sound: An acoustically tuned 1.75-inch speaker delivers performance that exceeds the demands of ordinary speakerphones. Music and other audio is played in amazing quality.
- Double Up: Wirelessly pair two S500s to increase coverage in rooms of up to 20 people.
- Easy to Use: Connect to plug and play via USB-C, or wirelessly via Bluetooth or the included dongle. No IT knowledge required.