Best laptop docking station with built-in speakerphone
Working from home continues for some people, while others have been asked to head back into the office to do their jobs. Still, plenty of folks are still working at home at least a few days a week. You may’ve bought a headset to log in to all those video conference calls you still have to show up for (we have a list of best headsets for working from home if you’re interested in one of those), but some people don’t like to wear anything on or in their ears. That’s where a good speakerphone can come in handy.
Read More:Best Cheap VPN
I’ve tested all the speakerphones on this list and reviewed not only how they perform as a speakerphone but also how they sound for music listening and what connectivity options they offer (and any other noteworthy special features). All of them include some sort of wired USB connection for Windows PCs and Macs, and many also have a Bluetooth option so you can connect wirelessly. Additionally, some include UC Bluetooth dongles that are compatible with the industry standard universal communication format. That USB dongle allows for a more reliable Bluetooth connection to computers. However, like UC headsets, speakerphones with a UC Bluetooth option can cost a little more.
I’ve included not just the best of the best speakerphones, which can get pretty pricey, but also some top no-frills speakerphones for those want to spend less than $100 — or even less than $50. Except for one, all the speakerphones on this list are portable and easy to take with you so you can use them at home or on the go.
Jabra’s has revamped its speakerphone line up for 2023, adding three new redesigned models that will eventually replace its earlier Speak 410, 510 and 710. The Speak2 55 is the middle model in the line up and only slightly more expensive than the Speak2 40, which I haven’t tried yet, but it seems similar. (It’s the same size and both the Speak2 40 and Speak2 50 have 50mm drivers.) The Speak2 75 is the flagship model and offers the best sound quality and substantially better battery life in wireless Bluetooth mode — 32 hours compared to 12 for the Speak2 55. That’s said, it may be overkill for some people and is also pricey.
I like how Jabra has redesigned the new models, giving them a sleeker, cleaner look, and all the models include an integrated USB-C cable with a USB-A adapter that allows you to plug the speaker directly into a Mac or Windows PC. The relatively compact Speak2 55 comes with a nice felt carrying case and is fairly lightweight, weighing in at 280 grams (9.88 ounces), making it easy to slip into a bag and carry around for conference calls on the go. While it offers Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, it doesn’t come with a USB Bluetooth dongle to plug into your PC for more reliable wireless connectivity with computers.
It’s equipped with four beamforming noise-cancelling microphones with background noise reduction technology (people I was conversing with said my voice sounded clear) and I thought the sound output was better than that of the Anker PowerConf S500, which retails for a little more. You can use the Speak2 55 to listen to music, but don’t expect great sound quality. It’s acceptable for casual listening but there just isn’t a lot of bass. Not surprisingly, you get better sound with the larger and more expensive Speak2 75).
The Luna is eMeet’s latest speakerphone and a good value with a list price of $80, though it sometimes dips to even less with an instant coupon at Amazon. It’s designed to compete with Anker’s PowerConf (see below). It’s not quite as sleek as the PowerConf, nor does it come with a protective carrying case like that model does. Also, its microphone performance is good but not on the level of the Jabra Speak2 55 (see above) or Speak 510 (see below) in terms of clarity. That said, it offers good noise reduction.
The speaker does sound clear and loud, and it’s versatile: You can go wireless over Bluetooth, plug the speaker into the USB port on your PC (with an included cable) or plug in the wireless dongle for a more reliable Bluetooth connection.
It can be daisy-chained with other eMeet speakerphones to add more people — up to 12, eMeet says — in case you’re running a business with multiple employees from home or just have a really large family.
You’re receiving price alerts for eMeet Luna
The Speak2 75 is Jabra’s new-for-2023 flagship speakerphone. It’s larger than the Speak2 55 (see above) but still portable, weighing in at 466 grams or 16.44 ounces. (It does feel more substantial than the Speak2 55.) Like the Speak2 55, this model comes with a felt carrying case and an integrated USB-C cable with a USB-A adapter for connecting the speaker directly to computers. It’s IP64 dust- and splash-proof.
The two biggest differences between this model and the Speak2 55 are the size of the drivers — 65mm versus 50mm — and the Speak2 75’s superior battery life (it’s rated for 32 hours in wireless Bluetooth mode, much more than the 12 hours you get with the Speak2 55). It also includes a Bluetooth USB dongle for more reliable wireless connectivity with computers. Alas, the USB-C version of the dongle is currently backordered, so only the USB-A version is available. That will hopefully change soon.
Jabra says the Speak2 75 has «super-wideband audio» and a microphone quality indicator that detects how well the microphones are picking up your voice. It also has four beamforming microphones with the same noise-reduction technology as the Speak2 55. Aside from the better battery life, the biggest difference I noticed was the fuller sound — it’s a bigger speaker so that’s not surprising. And while it’s still not that a great sound if you use it to play music, it does have more bass than the Speak2 55.
Callers said I sounded loud and clear with good background noise reduction. This is a top-notch speakerphone, but it is pricey.
I liked Beyerdynamic’s earlier Phonum speakerphone (see below), which retails for about $100. But the new-for-2022 Space is a slicker product and nice «personal» speakerphone that works well in home office environments. It also has more bass than the average speakerphone and works decently for listening to music, though it doesn’t support the higher-fidelity AAC and AptX codecs — only SBC. If you can afford it, you can wirelessly pair two of them for stereo sound.
The speaker comes in a few different color options and has touch controls on the top along with LED lights that indicate whether you’re connected via Bluetooth, on a call and whether your microphone is muted. You can also connect directly to your computer with the included USB-C cable — the speaker charges via USB-C — and a USB-C to USB-A adapter is included (you can store it in a slot in the base of the speaker, where you’ll also find a threaded tripod mount). Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours, and a 10-minute charge gives you two hours of juice. The speaker is splash-proof and dust-resistant with an IP64 rating.
Callers said I sounded clear and were generally impressed with how I sounded, saying they couldn’t tell I was on a speakerphone. Weighing 354 grams, the speakerphone is quite portable and a carrying pouch is included, While Beyerdynamic describes it as a personal speakerphone, it does have four microphones and is suitable for conference calls with up to six people sitting around it. While it’s a bit expensive at its $179 list price, I do suspect it will come down in price with time.
You’re receiving price alerts for Beyerdynamic Space
Anker’s PowerConf offers solid performance for the money, with six microphones arranged in a 360-degree array to pick up the voice of up to eight people in a room. This Bluetooth speakerphone charges and connects via USB-C to your computer (if you want to go the wired route) and easily connects to your cell phone and tablet via Bluetooth technology. With an integrated 6,700-mAh battery, you can also charge your devices with the speakerphone. Battery life is rated at 24 hours for call time.
The speaker performed well, with good clarity and similar sound quality to the Jabra Speak 510 (I didn’t compare it to the newer Jabra Speak2 55). Jabra’s Speak 710 delivers a little fuller sound with a little more bass, but that speaker costs substantially more. While this can also be used as a speaker for listening to music or watching movies — and is a significant step up from the built-in speakers on your smartphone or laptop, particularly in terms of loudness — Anker says it’s first and foremost a conference speakerphone. Whether you’re in a large conference room or smaller conference rooms, it can pick up voices anywhere for up to eight people. A carrying case is included.
Note that you can’t connect more than one Bluetooth device to this conference speaker at the same time. It’s also worth noting Anker also makes the newer PowerConf S3, which is currently selling for $100. I have not tried that model but it seems very similar to this one with an updated design.
You’re receiving price alerts for Anker PowerConf Bluetooth Speakerphone
The Poly Sync 20 is available with and without a Bluetooth dongle, and there’s also a Microsoft Teams-certified version. Additionally, there’s a new pink version to support Breast Cancer Awareness that currently costs $75 without the dongle.
It’s unclear if you need the dongle because the speaker has an integrated USB-A or -C cord to plug directly into a computer and charge the device, but the dongle makes for easier pairing.
This has everything you want in a compact but portable speaker phone. Along with the USB-A connector, it has Bluetooth. A protective carrying case and lanyard are also included. There’s also a USB out port for charging a phone. Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours.
Performance was solid. I was able to stand up to about 7 or 8 feet away from the speaker and callers said they could hear me clearly. The speaker puts out a decent amount of sound, so volume wasn’t an issue. It’s also worth noting that the touch button with the rocket icon is programmable using the Plantronics Hub app: You can choose between play-pause music, last-number redial and voice assistant as well as hold/resume call. The Microsoft Teams-certified version adds a Teams button next to the rocket button. That said, any model works with Teams.
I played some music through the speaker and it sounds decent though not great for a compact Bluetooth speaker. As you might expect, it’s strongest in the midrange, where vocals live, so it does well with acoustic music.
The Sync 20 Plus version with a Bluetooth dongle lists for $200 but can be had for less. Poly also has the larger Poly Sync 40 for around $200 and the line-topping Sync 60 is around $450.
The Anker PowerConf S500 is an attractively designed speakerphone that offers good performance for around $200. It’s equipped with 4 microphones and Anker says a single PowerConf S500 «delivers performance for rooms of up to 12 people, and you can wirelessly pair two of them to increase coverage for up to 20 people.»
While you can connect your phone or computer via Bluetooth, you can also connect the speaker directly to your computer with a USB-C cable. additionally, it comes with a wireless Bluetooth USB dongle (it’s USB-A) for more reliable wireless connections to PCs. It’s nice that you can store the dongle in a slot on the bottom of the speakerphone when you’re not using it. I also liked the included hard carrying case.
I didn’t think this speaker performed quite as well as from a sound quality standpoint as the Jabra Speak 2 55 (see above), but it is well designed speakerphone that delivers solid performance for its price and does have better battery life than the Jabra (16 hours vs. 12 hours).