AnkerWork B600 Video Bar Review: Pricey All-In-One Webcam Solution

EDITORS' RATING: 7/10
Pros
  • Built-in light bar
  • Lots of customization options via software
  • AI Auto-framing and automatic light adjustment
  • Decent audio output
  • Camera privacy cover
Cons
  • Mediocre microphone
  • Requires separate power source
  • Expensive

Even as many parts of the world have started to go back to "a new normal," some practices and strategies that were developed during the early days of the pandemic have become the norm for many businesses. Video conferencing with remote workers remains a thing, and more products have popped up to cater to such needs. While most laptops have built-in webcams, few of them would be considered good enough for regular and professional video conferences. That's not to mention desktops and monitors that don't have cameras of their own, requiring owners to go out and purchase new accessories. 

As some people have learned the hard way, the camera is only one part of the equation when it comes to a professional-looking video, and they sometimes end up buying more things to complete the formula. That's where AnkerWork's B600 Video Bar comes in, cramming everything you need for a video call in a single package, assuming you have the budget for it.

The all-in-one video bar

The first impression you'll have when seeing the AnkerWork B600 for the first time is that it's huge, at least by webcam standards. There's a reason it's called a video bar rather than a webcam — the name sounds like the fusion of a video cam and a soundbar. That would definitely be an accurate assessment given the hardware it's packing inside, but more on that later.

At 1 pound, it's definitely not lightweight, but it's not heavy enough to weigh down desktop monitors, even those hanging on an arm. That figure, however, does factor in when you try using the camera with a laptop, as it will make the lid top-heavy. Of course, the B600 Video Bar doesn't have to be attached to a monitor, and its 360-degree rotating mount makes it possible to set it up at different locations and angles, as long as the USB-C cable can still bridge the Video Bar and your computer.

The AnkerWork B600 is primarily a plastic affair, with the back half covered by a fabric-like material to indicate the location of the dual speakers. The front has a sturdy plastic lid that flips open to reveal the 2K camera. The lid also houses the light bar that helps even out your complexion under different lighting conditions. The Video Bar doesn't have physical buttons but opts for capacitive ones instead; it's like a slider that controls the intensity of the light, plus there are two buttons on the right and left sides of the Video Bar to toggle the mic and light, respectively. You won't need a separate toggle for the webcam since the light bar automatically functions as a privacy cover, which is ideal over a software switch.

With all the features that the B600 Video Bar is packing, it is perhaps no surprise that it uses more than just one cable to function. There are two USB-C ports on the back of the device, one dedicated for data and another solely for power. It is unfortunate that you have to plug the B600 into a separate power source, even if that means just another USB-C port on your computer, making cable management more work than it needs to be. There is also a regular-sized USB port that's compatible only with select AnkerWork products like an external microphone.

Light and sound

The biggest reason for the AnkerWork B600's size is the hardware and features it offers. In essence, it is a webcam, speaker, mic, and light bar in one package that, ideally, would sit on top of your monitor. In theory, that multi-functional design tries to justify the product's price tag, but in practice, it might be rare for people to need all four, especially if the features are average.

The need for proper lighting became apparent to remote office workers in the early days of work-from-home arrangements, which is why ring lights suddenly became more than just a tool for YouTubers. Not everyone wants to buy a separate light source just for video calls, however, and that's why the B600 has one built-in. It brings more to the table than the typical ring light, though, and this could actually be the Video Bar's killer feature.

The light bar is bright enough to make your face more visible in a dark setting without blinding you, and the easy-to-use touch slider makes it trivial to adjust the intensity. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though, since AnkerWork's software allows you to fine-tune the light's settings, including its warmth. This allows you to be able to properly match the light to your surroundings, which helps you look less pasty in the afternoon.

In terms of audio, the AnkerWork B600 does a decent job for computers that don't have dedicated speakers or mics. The speaker outputs crisp and clear audio but tends to be on the quiet side of the volume range. The array of four mics work together to hone in on your voice against a backdrop of background noises, but the sound quality isn't as good as when you're using even something like AirPods. Among the Video Bar's feature set, these are arguably harder to justify when even some laptop speakers can do better.

Camera output

The AnkerWork B600 Video Bar boasts a 2K camera (technically 1440p) that does seem more appealing than average built-in laptop webcams, at least the ones you'd get back in the day. What is being advertised as a selling feature, however, might actually be one of its biggest weaknesses. Make no mistake, the 2K camera does a super job of capturing detail, and low-light environments are no problem thanks to the light bar. It's just that there are equal or better cameras on the market that are a quarter of its substantial $219.99 price.

Depending on what you really need, the 1440p/30fps video recording limit could be a big letdown for its price, even if you consider the other features included in the big Video Bar. There are webcams that offer 4K quality at half the price, though that might be excessive even for professional video conferences. In the end, the decision will boil down to whether you need all the features this product offers at this price.

The camera does have a couple of features you can tweak via software, like field-of-view (FOV) and resolution. You don't have to change those settings manually as the B600 has a couple of automatic functions. Automatic light adjustment gives your finger a rest from tweaking the intensity every so often. The device even has AI auto-framing to make sure you are always in focus when you move around. As with many "AI-based" features, results can be a hit or miss, but we were satisfied with how well it got the settings right most of the time.

Software and customization

While the B600 Video Bar is already usable from the get-go, it really shines when you start fiddling with the settings via its companion app. You have typical switches for camera resolutions, FOV angles, and audio settings, but most of the time, you might find yourself playing with the light controls.

The settings are rather simple but effective in letting you dictate the exact amount and temperature of light that will shine on your face. This is already a huge step up from cheap ring lights and light bars and makes you look more prepared for meetings, no matter the time of day. It does take a bit of time to get the mix just right, but if your livelihood depends on making a good visual impression, you'll be thankful you have these options.

This software also means the Video Bar's features can be fixed or improved with a simple firmware update. With quite a few moving parts beyond just the camera, such updates will be necessary to keep up with user feedback. Given how young and novel the product is, there will definitely be quite a few of those, and it will test AnkerWork's ability to quickly iterate over its latest flagship.

Final take

The sudden popularity or infamy of video conferencing has given birth to new products that try to capitalize on rising demand. Some companies put out more of the same things, while others try to inject a bit of out-of-the-box thinking in the process. The AnkerWork B600 is definitely part of the latter by bringing together everything you may need for a professional-looking business call. The 2K camera alone is decent enough, but the built-in light bar definitely takes the cake and outshines the competition, pun intended.

Unfortunately, the biggest question mark on the B600's potential success is its hefty $219.99 price tag. While having four features in one webcam sounds like a great deal, only one of those four really shines, literally. Most people will prefer to use their favorite speakers, even if that means the laptop speakers or headsets, making half of the Video Bar seemingly redundant. 

Admittedly, the AnkerWork B600 could be a better proposition for businesses that are still adjusting to video conferences and want to equip their desktop computers with an all-in-one solution. The B600 does have a lot of benefits even for use at home, but most consumers will probably have second thoughts about making such a big investment.