Working remotely from your own home is now a reality for more and more people post COVID-19. Many of us have enjoyed this shift but the longer it goes the more we realize expanding our office gadgets may be needed as well. Anker’s new Work lineup is starting to fill some of those voids and the PowerConf S500 speaker is a must-have for those taking calls at home.
The PowerConf S500 is a sleek and solid piece of hardware. This conference device is well put together. Around the top, you have the speaker and mic arrays. These include four microphones with 32KHz of sampling rate to make sure voices never see a drop. You will also find the 1.55-inch speaker flanking the lid.
Just below the Anker logo is an LED-lit capacitive panel for your basic controls of audio levels and mic. There is a metal rim around the entire casing with another set of tactile buttons.
Calls and controls
Let’s dive further into the calling using the AnkerWork PowerConf S500. All calls that I’ve taken with the speaker have been without issues. All three methods of connection have worked great. That’s right, you can use USB-C and Bluetooth wireless options to utilize the PowerConf S500.
The third option is also Bluetooth, but it’s if your other devices don’t have it built into the included hardware. Underneath the PowerConf S500 is a Bluetooth adapter that came in handy for my work desktop which doesn’t have an internal wireless module.
The controls of calls and audio are just as thoughtfully laid out. As mentioned earlier the top houses capacitive buttons to get things done. You can raise or lower the volume, mute the mic, or take an incoming call straight from this panel.
All of these worked just as described in practice. I was able to control all the label features in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. The same was also true on standard phone calls when wirelessly paired to my Pixel.
It uses adaptive VoiceRadar to determine the current speaker and hone in on that person. This focuses on noise-canceling to drown out the environment while amplifying the speaker’s voice to add clarity on the other end.
So what about the hardware buttons on the front? Three are pretty self-explanatory. You have power on and off, play/pause, and the Bluetooth pairing button. Long presses of the power button turn the speaker on and off. A single press of the play button starts or stops, playback. Finally, pressing the Bluetooth button sets the PowerConf S500 to pairing mode.
The second button from the right is a link mode switch. This allows two or more PowerConf S500 speakers to be linked together for larger audiences. Anker suggests that each speaker can properly handle chatter for around 10 people in most environments. So, if you know you’ll consistently be supporting calls with 15-20 folks in the room, another PowerConf might be worth it.
Anker rates the AnkerWork PowerConf S500 at 15 total hours of playback or calls. I’ve found that to be deadly accurate. I consistently get similar results with mixed use. This includes calls, video chats, and music playback.
Charging happens over a USB-C connection to the speaker. This doubles as the connection port if you want the lowest latency possible and keep it wired to your PC. A full charge took around four hours depending on the power source. It was slightly less when using a wall outlet adapter.
I genuinely like this market for Anker. Is it niche? Yeah, but it’s becoming the norm every day for people in the workforce. Anker has leveraged its history of making great consumer products into polished work devices like the PowerConf S500.
This conference speaking will surprisingly round out your home office or travel bag. But good things don’t come cheap. Full retail pricing is $220 on both AnkerWork’s website and Amazon. While it’s slightly past impulse purchase price tags, for the enterprise market this is more than competitive.