BIG Home Office Update – Anker PowerConf S500 and C300 Speakerphone and Webcam Review

by Robb Sutton

Over the past 8 months, we have been finishing our basement to include my new at home office and studio setup. We are finally at the finish line so I can start to share what we have been up to.

This was a big move for my office. I was moving from our main floor where I didn’t have a door to what would be the bedroom in the basement. I got to spec it out with the products I wanted to use to give me the perfect at home office, studio and editing suite.

The first setup we are going to visit is my new desk setup that is using a lot of the products I have reviewed in the past like the UpLift Standup desk and single large monitor stand. Now we are looking at the complete picture including my new Anker video and audio conferencing components. These are replacing my ”overkill” components that I was using before.

Anker Home Office Setup

PowerConf C300 Webcam Specs

  • Look like a pro with true-to-life colors from the 1080p/60FPS camera.
  • Be heard loud and clear via the ultra-sensitive dual microphones.
  • AI-powered auto low-light correction ensures you stand out.
  • AI technology automatically adjusts the field of view to fit more people in frame.
  • Automatically focus on people or objects within just 0.35 seconds.
  • $129.99 USD MSRP

PowerConf S500 Speakerphone Specs

  • 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.
  • $219.99 USD MSRP
Anker PowerConf S500 Speakerphone

PowerConf S500 Speakerphone Review

First, lets talk about the PowerConf S500 speaker phone. I’ll be honest, it is a little bit overkill for my setup. I’ll probably never use the ability to link two together or fully utilize the 4 microphones. At most, I have two people on my side of the conversation using my setup at once. What I really wanted to know is if the people on the other end of the phone could tell the difference in quality going from professional audio equipment to the S500.

They did not. All of the claims about the S500 are true. The audio quality is fantastic over Teams, Zoom and WebEx. I also tested it as a wireless setup for my phone and the same was seen. I never had an instance when I was told there was an echo from my end of the call even while using the studio speakers on my desk. The speaker phone performed flawlessly on several calls per day over the last couple of months.

The VoiceRadar feature works as well. There were times when the dogs were making noise in the room or my son came in trying to ask questions that were not picked up on the call. It does a great job of singling out the talking voices from ambient. I can see this as a great feature in situations where I have been in a crowded board room and people are coughing, crumpling paper and performing other unwanted noises.

As far as connectivity, all options worked the same. I am using this in a situation where the S500 never moves so I keep it wired to not have to worry about charging. The tests I did with bluetooth and the dongle also worked as advertised and there was noticeable loss in quality or speech timing.

One of the best features of the S500 for me (which is a simple one) is the mute button. It works seamlessly with Teams, Zoom and WebEx which means I can easily mute my mic without having to search around with my mouse for the mute in the application. Little things like that…really make for a more enjoyable call experience.

As far as the speaker, it is what you would expect. It gets loud enough for a group of 6 – 10 around the same table but the audio quality isn’t something you are going to play music out of on a regular basis. It isn’t intended for that anyway and I could barely tell a difference on calls between the S500 and my studio speakers on the desk when I switched back and forth.

Any drawbacks? Only one during my usage. If you pair the S500 with your phone, it will pick it up anywhere in range and you have to switch your audio on your phone manually. I ended up just unpairing it completely after a couple of accidental YouTube video broadcasts and call connections from another room. At $219, it also might be a little bit of overkill for at home setups if you are not on a lot of calls during the day. In an office environment, I would call $219 to be on the cheap end if you have seen how quickly the prices of conference setups can get. For smaller offices with limited budgets the S500 would be great for conference rooms especially considering the ability to link multiple units together on one call.

Anker C300 Webcam

Webcam PowerConf C300 Webcam Review

Now onto the C300. As much as I hate being on camera during calls (I avoid it at all costs), it is good to have a quality webcam for calls that really matter. Laptop cameras have come a long way but they still don’t tend to match a quality external one. Also, I don’t have one on my LG 48” and Ryzen tower…so I needed a good option.

The C300 does a good job at 1080p 60fps. The 60 fps is a little bit more important to me than resolution as I am rarely on a one on one call on my computer where we are just talking. Almost all of my business calls involve multiple people or a presentation that makes all of us thumbnails at best. 1080p is fine for that but smooth motion and clarity are big deals as I am basically a thumbnail on every call. Your video is getting compressed by whichever app you are using as well so anything more than 1080 is most likely getting lost anyway.

The picture quality is good. It’s great with the right lighting but the ”Ai” they use for low light conditions does a pretty good job without introducing a lot of noise. The color reproduction was also on par with other cameras I have tested including those on Apple devices.

The app is extremely easy to use and allows to you fine tune the settings to your specific parameters. The focus is as fast as advertised but I do find the ”follow the subject” feature to have a delay. I RARELY use that as I am always in my chair during calls but if you are moving around a lot and expect it to follow you…keep that in mind. Also, if you are in a situation like I am with this 48″ screen where the top mount is not ideal, there is a tripod screw mount built in for alternative mounting solutions.

Downsides? Well…it is still a webcam so don’t expect to be recording high end streams or anything else that you would tether an actual camera to the computer for. You aren’t going to get that depth of field or ISO range like you would out of a setup like that. The microphones on the camera are sufficient but didn’t match up to the S500. That is to be expected but they are also completely usable and better than you will find on a laptop. Honestly…for most at home setups where you are just doing a limited amount of calls…the C300 can function just fine as both your cam and microphone setup.

Overall Thoughts on the Anker S500 and C300 Setup

Overall, the Anker setup isn’t as flashy as my overkill setup but it is SO MUCH easier to use and seamlessly integrates with all of the conferencing apps. I don’t have to turn anything on, do any hacks or anything else like with my last setup with the same audio quality and almost the same video quality. It is also a dedicated setup that never moves but can if I want it to if I want to bring it on the road. This setup is also a lot higher quality than just using a laptop so my calls deliver clearer audio with even better video as laptop cams are historically horrible.

Anker also has their mobile and desktop apps that are very easy to use to setup your devices. For the camera, it allows you to set your field of view, framerate, resolution, settings and color correction all from within the app and that carries over to Teams, WebEx and your other conferencing apps. With the S500…it is really just used for firmware updates.

The C300 webcam is probably enough for most people as it can pull double duty as a webcam and microphone at a good price point. I don’t see a lot of people that are just at their house spending over 200 on a speaker phone/mic if it is just you at home working. If you are on a lot of calls, need a portable option for hotel rooms/remote offices or have calls where you have multiple people in a room at once…the S500 is a great option at this price point. The S500 really shines when you need the noise canceling and the ability to affordable link a big room together. If you have ever priced out a conference room setup, you know that can get expensive quickly.

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