Which budget conference phone is best?
You don’t need to have all the bells and whistles when shopping for a conference phone, just a good quality microphone and speaker system. Budget conference phones are excellent in this regard, focusing on the sound systems first, while adding a few of the most useful features.
The best budget conference phone is the Anker PowerConf Bluetooth Speakerphone. This Bluetooth speaker is also capable of connecting to devices via USB-C and has one of the clearest sound systems in its price range.
What to know before you buy a budget conference phone
The number one concern when shopping for a budget conference phone is the quality of the sound being broadcast through the speakers and the quality of the sound the conference phone is picking up and sending to the other side of the call. Many features and aspects of the device can affect the quality of the sound, like echo reduction, noise cancellation and 360-degree pickup. The easiest way to check the sound quality is to read reviews from current users.
Budget conference phones typically require a connection to a device using either a video conferencing service or a standard phone line. Most utilize Bluetooth connectivity to phones and computers, though USB connectivity is also common. Less common connection types include 3.5mm audio jacks or wireless USB dongles included with the budget conference phone for a more stable connection.
Some phones can also be connected directly to an analog phone line, but this is unlikely in the budget price range.
What to look for in a quality budget conference phone
Noise cancellation and echo reduction
Noise cancellation is typically used to reduce background sounds, such as the clicks of keyboards and mice and the squeaks of chairs or the sound of air conditioning and coughing.
Echo refers to when a speakerphone picks up the voice it’s currently broadcasting, sending it back to the speaker and causing the sound to loop. Echo reduction is a technology that reduces or eliminates this echo.
Budget conference phones almost always use a certain amount of built-in microphones spread around the base of the phone instead of any external microphones. Including more microphones allows the phone to better pick up voices from more directions.
How much you can expect to spend on a budget conference phone
The high end of budget conference phones usually peak around $150 and can go as low as $50, though this end of the price range can be shaky territory, qualitatively speaking. For comparison, most standard conference phones cost between $200-$400.
Budget conference phone FAQ
Can you use a budget conference phone without the use of another phone or device for connection?
A. It’s possible. Setting this feature up requires quite a few things to succeed, however, which usually makes it more trouble than it’s worth. First, you’ll need to have phone service through an old-fashioned analog line. Then you’ll need to have a budget conference phone with a compatible jack, a feature that is unlikely to be available natively in the budget price range. You could potentially use a series of converters to eventually connect the analog line to the budget conference phone, but it’s uncertain how good the quality of the connection would be.
How many budget conference phones can you use at once in the same room?
A. That depends on which phone you purchase, as not many in the budget range can connect to an additional budget conference phone to cover large conference rooms, also known as daisy-chaining. If it can daisy-chain, it’s likely that only two devices would be connectable at once, like the eMeet Luna Bluetooth Speakerphone below.
What’s the best budget conference phone to buy?
Top budget conference phone
What you need to know: This phone is packed with all the features you need for your business at an excellent price.
What you’ll love: This has six separate microphones placed all around its edges for easy voice pickup from every direction and can connect to laptops and phones using Bluetooth or USB-C. This is also Zoom-certified and works with all common videoconference services.
What you should consider: Connecting to more than one device at a time is possible, but it requires a somewhat complex series of steps to upgrade it with this compatibility.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top budget conference phone for the money
What you need to know: This model provides good-quality performance at a low price.
What you’ll love: This completely wireless phone connects easily with Bluetooth to compatible laptops and phones and the rechargeable battery lasts up to 300 hours on standby, plus it’s easy to take on the go. The 360-degree microphone features noise cancellation for less background noise.
What you should consider: Those who find themselves in long conferences should look elsewhere as the battery for this Skywin model only lasts five hours or less of talk time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Another excellent budget conference phone that has plenty of features at an affordable price.
What you’ll love: This phone has four methods of connecting to a device, including two wired methods, a wireless USB dongle (included) and Bluetooth, plus it can daisy-chain with an additional Luna to cover larger conference rooms. The Luna is available in three color options.
What you should consider: While this budget conference phone can be used as a music speaker, the quality isn’t good enough for this use to be recommended.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.