When I received the AnkerWork SR500 speakerphone shown above, it looked like a useful multipurpose office accessory for making business phone use and video conferences more productive. It turned out to be little more than just a helpful one-trick device in corporate and SMB conference rooms.
The disconnect in purpose of this device escaped me at first. It’s been a while since my work revolved around conference rooms, and now I join video presentations and interview calls involving phone lines.
Alas, the SR500 is too much for my well-stocked multi-phone line remote office. But my weak speakerphone handset and external speakers leave a lot to be desired. So the business phone equipment hype around the SR500 seemed like a perfect solution. but not for me.
This speakerphone could be a winner for business conference rooms as a souped-up video conference speaker amplifier and voice enhancement tool. The SR500 can be your new go-to device for making video conference sessions more audibly enjoyable in both small and extra-large meeting rooms.
No Telephone Acceptance: You’ll need a backup plan for conferencing via a landline instead of a computer—and if you’re thinking about connecting a smartphone or other Bluetooth-enabled device, think again. The SR500 doesn’t currently support them.
case of naming overreach
AnkerWork’s product photography and marketing blurb strongly “suggest” that the product being called a “speakerphone” will have something more to do with telecommunications. The two line ports on the bottom of the SR500 added to my misconception.
Sadly, though, the response was disappointing when I contacted Anker’s technical support office regarding how to connect this device to a phone line. This unit is designed for computers and does not support landline phones.
So even though the SR500 has LED-lit icons to press to connect (green) and disconnect (red) the phone, those two buttons only unmute and mute non-phone speaker devices.
AnkerWork designed the SR500 to improve voice delivery in noisy environments, whether in small or very large rooms. For large conference tables, users can daisy chain up to five speakerphones to give all attendees seated at the table a clear shot without having to shout or strain to hear what others are saying.
AnkerWork’s Quick Start Guide video shows how to set up and connect multiple SR500 speakerphones:
According to AnkerWork, this conference enhancer picks up sound from up to 16 feet away, helping to ensure that 45 people around a series of conference tables can be heard equally without increasing their voices or volume.
Upgraded VoiceRadar 2.0 technology integrates comprehensive audio processing with deep learning to separate voices from background noise. It can isolate sounds in over 30,000 different room designs and sizes. For speakers only the primary speaking voice is filtered.
The AnkerWork app makes it easy to keep up with software updates. With the manufacturer’s software, the SR500 is fully compatible with all major online conferencing services, including Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, WebEx and GoTo Meetings.
The all-metal black and gray casing is compact, though a bit bulkier than most desktop speakerphones. It measures 8″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″. That space is needed to house the device’s eight microphone array around a rectangular-shaped case.
The 1.75″ speaker is not a lightweight performer either. Hidden in the top half of the speakerphone’s case, it produces upward and sideways directed sound, emitting voices around the room.
I tested the SR500 during a work week of conference calls for news briefings and voice-only calls, mostly using Zoom, Skype, and Meet. The quality seemed better than a face-to-face conversation.
The speakerphone uses an artificial intelligence algorithm model based on 280 hours of speech signals across dozens of simulated and field training tests. This algorithm dynamically recognizes language utterances and a wide range of sound sources.
The SR500 supports audio frequencies from low (80Hz) to high (20KHz) with less than 3% vocal distortion. The result is lifelike sound quality from any direction.
missed user opportunities
Compared to smaller speakerphones I’ve used, the SR500’s sound quality is better. The only drawback, and it’s a serious one, is the lack of Bluetooth support for pairing the speakerphone with other devices.
The sound response is so good that I’ll be using this unit to replace the current speakerphone that connects to my smartphone. But with no way to connect the two devices wirelessly or via cable, I can’t access my Google Voice phone number through the SR500.
It’s even more challenging because the AnkerWork speakerphone connects to a computer via the included Power over Ethernet (PoE) cable. I can output audio from the videoconferencing application through the speakerphone, but the connection doesn’t work with Google’s Voice internet phone platform.
The AnkerWork SR500 speakerphone offers an impressive build quality. Plus, its anti-theft security features, including a device-locking system, make it a premier solution for organizations with heavy loads of small and large group video communications.
However, the list of unsupported connections limits the SR500 speakerphone’s usefulness to enterprise-sized organizations. Although it’s a solid performer, at $349.99 for a single unit, it becomes expensive to chain together multiple voice extenders—and the inability to be a PC-only tool makes it a questionable purchase for a broad user base.
The AnkerWork SR500 Speakerphone is available on Amazon and the AnkerWork Web Store.
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