The world we live in has changed a lot in 2020 with COVID-19 and for many of us we have not completely returned to the way things were. In many instances, that change has revolved around a hybrid, work-from-home model with our employers. But in order to do this, a lot of money has been spent by businesses and individuals to set up workstations at home.
AnkerWork has provided a pair of really impressive devices to help with this hybrid model, the Powerconf 700 headset and the B600 videoconferencing bar. Today we will take a look at both the devices so that you can choose whether you think they are right for you or not.
PowerConf H700 Headset
Unlike some of the other headsets we’ve spent time with over the past 12 months, this one is clearly intended for heavy phone users. The boom mic is on and mutes with a simple flick which makes it very quick and easy to hear other conversations or avoid unwanted sounds during online meetings or phone calls.
There are several design elements of the H700 headset that make it a great choice for all-day use. As a starting point, the entire unit is remarkably lightweight, so much so that it almost feels toy-like. That lightweight design lends itself to becoming a subconscious wearable. Because it’s connected to my work laptop and phone, my headset turns on as soon as I have a message or call on either of them and usually stays on.
The soft padding along with the light weight means that you can not only wear the H700 for calls and meetings but also keep it on and enjoy some streaming media. The headset is seemingly close to infinitely adjustable, with multiple hinge points, plenty of padding, and plenty of adjustments in the headband. All this together, makes the PowerConf H700 headset exceptionally comfortable, especially for an on-ear device.
Finally, from a physical standpoint, the previously mentioned boom mic is on an arm that is reasonably significant in length. While the others work fine, this one, when down, is positioned really well to transmit the user’s voice really clearly to their caller or meeting.
The controls are really simple to use, be it media playback or call handling; This is one-touch content. This makes it a user-friendly setup which is nice but also convenient for quick responses.
On the left ear, you have a twist dial for volume, and a button in its center that controls playback and calls. Below the ear cups, you’ll find the controls (ANC, Normal and Hear-Through), which are well-positioned to ensure that they don’t accidentally activate during calls or media playback.
On the right, you’ll find the power button behind the ear cups, the charging port on the bottom, and a mic mute button on the top. The latter is somewhat redundant, purely because the mic boom mutes your mic when you flip it at an angle greater than horizontal. It’s easy to know you’ve done this because there’s a distinct notch in the hinge that you feel, as well as audible notification that your mic has been muted.
sound and noise cancellation
Here are some factors to consider when discussing sound quality.
The first is the call quality that is delivered and in short, it is brilliant. Thanks to bringing the microphone closer to your mouth for whoever you’re talking to, this combined with Voice Shield AI means you can be easily heard. The Voice Shield means that a fair amount of ambient noise near you is also cancelled, which also improves the feeling of privacy on your calls, which is important for office environments.
Moving it around, even in a relatively noisy open office environment, the ANC reduced the noise around me to little more than a murmur. This was of great benefit to me in reducing distraction and focusing on what I was doing at the time.
With regards to media playback, I have mixed feelings about this headset. Not because it does a poor job of anything, but because it’s not intended to be a primary playback device. Whatever the device’s intent, it does a very solid job of providing very enjoyable listening.
Straight out of the box, you get a well-balanced audio mix. You get little bass, clean and clear mids and treble, which is all you could ask for in a headset like this. But if you want, through Anker’s software, you can tweak and balance the audio to your liking, which makes it even better; Customize it to suit your listening preferences, from well-balanced.
Battery and Charging
In my paid working life, I’m usually on call for at least 3 hours a day; When you mix mobile and MS Teams calls it usually takes longer. I found that I could get very close to a full work week of use if I turned off the headset when not in use or while listening to music—even with heavy use.
All my personal use devices have USB-C charging and this one is no exception so if I need a quick top up for the battery, no problem. Adding in the charging stand meant that whenever I needed the headset, I was able to quickly and easily charge the headset throughout the day, ensuring continuous use.
would i buy one?
For my work use, without hesitation, I’d grab one of these in a sec. The feature set, battery life, and extensive audio capabilities make the $299.95 price tag a worthy investment if you’re on calls a lot. That being said, if you’re more of a commuter than an office-based worker and want a headset to suit you, the boom mic will make it a bit awkward and investigating other options is probably on the cards for you.
Ankerwork B600 Video Conferencing Bar
If the PowerConf H700 doesn’t quite hit all the marks you need and you’re in a quieter location then the B600 video bar might be the upgrade you need. This is a 2K video conferencing bar that has several key differences from other webcams that make it worth the money.
As a starting point, it’s really important to highlight that this isn’t just a webcam. It has a lot of features that elevate it beyond that label to “online video conferencing tool”. In terms of features, the B600 matches it with the best in the market.
Probably the biggest potential deterrent (besides price) for potential buyers is the physical size of this camera. It’s actually a great piece of kit for a webcam whether the light bar is open or closed, which also provides privacy screening. That lighting, however, gives great support to the 2K camera, making sure that even with a strong light source behind you; You don’t look like you’re in witness protection whistleblowing on 60 Minutes.
The problem anyone looking at it though, is that $499.95 is a tough sell for a webcam.
However, the B600’s design offers some advantages in workspace efficiency. Starting with the light we’ve already mentioned. It can be triggered manually to serve as a desk light or as lighting for your video calls. Depending on your workspace, this may save you some space and power.
If you’re happy with the basics, you can just plug in via the USB-C port to power your camera and provide data. However, there are software that you can install offering further features; More on this later. Or you can use the supplied power brick and USB cable to connect to your machine or easily change between machines.
It has good — I’ll avoid saying “good” — speakers that will be more than enough to handle video calls and some low-volume music playback. They’re not going to compete with studio monitor speakers or really good headsets for audio quality, but that’s fine for me because I already have good speakers and a headset.
It’s not the only design aspect I particularly like. On the sides of the camera are capacitive buttons that (left) trigger the microphone mute/unmute function in calls and (right) the lights. Light intensity can be controlled from the user’s perspective by a capacitive slider on the front of the camera, to the right of the lens, or automatically by software.
The previously mentioned software provides the option to change your captured and broadcast resolution from 360p to 720P, 1080P, and 2K. A huge bonus if your upstream speed isn’t as good as it could be.
As part of setup, you can also choose which viewing angle (65, 78 or 95 degrees) the camera will use; This makes the B600 an extremely versatile option for mobility and meetings. Allowing users a wide angle in the meeting room or a more focused angle when it comes to private workspace.
What really hammered home for me how good the B600’s camera quality is is the comments I got when I started using it. Colleagues were noting how crisp and clear my video stream was and how difficult it was to watch me in high resolution.
The second is that, generally speaking, the audio quality being transmitted is exceptionally clear, not just for a webcam. This is thanks to the multiple microphones built into the camera, which isolate the person talking and eliminate background noise.
Due to the work I do during the day (privacy requirements) I am not able to provide video call samples, but suffice it to say; The Ankerwork B600 is a powerful bit of kit that – budget permitting – I’d happily recommend.
At the time of publishing this review, the B600 is on special through the Australian site for $349.95, with the PowerConf H700 down to $199.95
Both devices provide excellent quality audio for the user and their callers, with some great freedom associated with wireless (headset) connectivity and software features.
Due to the cost of hygiene and shipping with the headset, the product is not accepted for return
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