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.

Audio-Boosting Features

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.

sound-capturing design

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.

ground level

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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If you’re looking for a solution for low-end mobile devices that works equally well for portable devices that are usually desk-bound, consider the Poly Sync 20 Speakerphone.

The unit I tested is the limited-edition pink version of the Poly Sync 20. The pink device has all the same features as the gray fabric and frame version, which serves as a personal speakerphone, a portable music speaker, and a smartphone charger.

Aside from the unique pink fabric covering on top of the limited edition, the standard-color gray device pictured above won’t disappoint.

For every Pink Sink unit sold from October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023, Pauley will donate $10 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This is a good incentive to consider purchasing this product.

The gray and pink versions are currently list-priced at $129.95. However, the cost ranges from $89.95 to $149.95 depending on special offers and optional features.

Hassle Free Sound Upgrade

I had no problem connecting the portable multi-purpose speaker to all my devices. These include laptop computers and full-size desktop computer configurations running Windows, macOS, and Linux.

In most cases, the device immediately defaults to the poly speaker when connected. Otherwise, all I had to do was select the sound card or speaker device I wanted to connect in the computer’s system settings.

The 28″ included USB Type-A cable is long enough to reach the host computer’s connection port if placed nearby. A second USB port lets you use a longer cable if needed, or other connectors to interface with devices like Chromebooks. If you don’t need the included USB cable for connection, you can wrap it around the bottom of the base to hide it.

Poly Sync 20 Pink Bluetooth Smart Speakerphone

Poly Sync 20 Pink USB/Bluetooth Smart Speakerphone (Image Credit: Poly)

On the top edge of the front are five touch buttons marked with icons. On the far left is a rocket silhouette indicating buttons for programming. You can program frequently used functions such as play/pause music, last-number redial and voice assistant.

There’s a phone icon on the top right button to answer (flash green) or end (red) a phone call. In the center are buttons for volume down (-), volume up (+), and microphone on/off (the mic icon with a line through it).

To the right of the speakerphone is the Bluetooth pairing button on the left, the second USB port in the middle, and the on/off power button on the right. Speakerphone announces when it connects and disconnects from all devices.

great sound quality

When I’m away from my desktop computer’s terrible soundbar, I spend most of my time suffering through subpar sound reproduction from my portable gear. Thus, I’ve endured countless portable speakers in my travels.

Some were adequate, though rarely more than a little loud. So, testing the Poly Smart Speakerphone was an unexpected treat.

Impressive sound quality bathed my ears with deep bass tones and rich treble sound. I frequently clicked between the tiny laptop speaker and the connected Polly speaker to confirm that my ears weren’t deceiving me. Every time I was more struck by the clear sound gradation, which didn’t wobble when transferred between devices.

Whether I was having a mobile phone conversation, making a video call, or playing audio files or selecting music, the Poly Portable Speaker sounded great.

Useful, Smart Design

The Poly boasts an intelligent design, multiple connectivity options and a bundle of extra features. It’s small with dimensions measuring 1.3″ x 3.7″ x 7.2″, lightweight at 12.7 ounces, and has tons of extra features that bundle the jobs of multiple portable tools into one super handy tool.

You can use Poly Speakerphone to share voices from around the room during a call. It is also a useful battery charger for various types of mobile devices.

Poly Sync 20 speakerphone can be used to charge a smartphone

The Poly Sync 20 can charge a smartphone via USB (Image credit: Poly)

It also comes with a carry case and lanyard. Apart from protecting the speakerphone from dust and dirt while carrying it around, the cloth case has limited utility. The purpose of the lanyard remains a mystery.

The 3200mAh non-replaceable Lithium-Ion battery takes about four hours to fully charge, providing 20 hours of talk time.

Other Notable Specs

Poly has packed this speakerphone with additional impressive components that serve better than expected:

  • Bluetooth 5.1, Multi microphones that track the talker with a frequency response of 100Hz to 6.7KHz and a pickup range of up to seven feet.
  • Dynamic audio makes conference calls smooth and clear despite the speaker’s small size (1.6″), delivering a peak audio output of 86dB SPL at 0.5m.
  • Noise cancellation and echo reduction circuitry drive significant improvements in performance compared to similar portable speaker products.

Poly provides separate procurement device management solutions for enterprise use. But I had a more than satisfactory experience for my one-person office needs.

ground level

The Poly Sync 20 is a change of pace for the Poly line of speakerphone webcams (see my Poly Studio P5 webcam review) that fits in with the company’s focus on the needs of remote and hybrid workers.

For many users, the Poly Sync 20 will prove to be better than wearing a headset, especially during long cell phone calls. It also helps the user not to be seen wearing headgear while participating in a business video call.

Poly Sync is compatible with 20 of the most popular meeting platforms including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco, RingCentral and more.