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AnkerWork B600 Video Bar webcam review

With on-board AI and a light, is the AnkerWork B600 Video Bar the best webcam money can buy?

AnkerWork B600 Video Bar review
(Image: © Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The AnkerWork B600 is a premium webcam, but it definitely targets some needs over others. It doesn’t go for maxing-out pixel resolution – rarely beneficial in video calls – but is sumptuously built around a light large enough and soft enough to make video practical even in the dark. The AI noise cancellation is excellent and the software painless but useful; AI subject tracking and switching between three fields of view are handily accessible. If your monitor can support the weight, and you want illumination over resolution, this is (despite the size) simplicity and elegance itself.

Pros

  • +

    Built-in light with temperature control

  • +

    Adjustable field of view

  • +

    Video captures High dynamic range

  • +

    4-mic array noticeably improves noise cancellation

  • +

    Privacy bar folds down as physical privacy cover

  • +

    Excellent software user experience

  • +

    Subject tracking AI works well

Cons

  • -

    Maximum resolution 2560 x 1440 (“2K”)

  • -

    Not designed for huddle meetings

  • -

    Needs separate power connection

  • -

    Power cable could be longer

  • -

    Unit is physically large & too heavy to rest on laptops

The AnkerWork B600 Video Bar is intended to be the ultimate in webcams, ideal for making a good impression in video conferences or live streaming. To that end it hasn’t made 4K a priority, but instead is built with extras to improve the quality of video at typical streaming resolutions.

To get good, flattering video, lighting has always been key, so the B600 stands right out from the crowd with a large built-in light. Indeed catering for creative choices are a key aspect of the B600, which includes the option to choose the field of view, as well as enable subject tracking to keep you filling the frame automatically, even as you move. The AI features also addresses a growing irritation many have with background noise on meetings (not everyone likes headphones) by including AI noise cancellation. 

AnkerWork B600 Video Bar Specifications

The box includes power adapters for three regions, possibly to save on packaging design but a boon for travelers too – the power is sent via a USB-C connector (however, if you have a computer capable of sending 5V at 2A via USB-C, you don’t actually need this at all – we had no problem without the power cable on an iMac or a MacBook Pro (the laptop was happier when we used a tripod to support the camera, however). (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Sensor: CMOS (1 / 2.8”-inch)

Maximum resolution: 2K / 1440P

Frame Rate: 30fps

Focus: Auto

Speakers: 2 x 2W

Codec: H.264, MJPEG YUV

Connections: USB-C, USB-C for power, USB-A

Dimensions: 180 x 38 x 46mm

Weight: 340g (plus 124g clip)

Key features

The built-in light is undoubtedly the stand-out feature of the B600, though the fact it also serves as a privacy flap. That it can be adjusted via touch buttons or in software make it all the better.

In most other regards, the camera is designed to be of the uttermost convenience, with automated exposure, white balance and focus.

Imaging framing is made from a choice of three perspectives, from 65˚ to 95˚, or the AI “Solo-Frame” which does a great job of keeping one face in frame.  

AnkerWork B600 Video Bar review

The hinged clip can be rotated (it’s shown here in the packaging position, but needs turning 90˚ for use). It can also be removed and the camera attached directly to a tripod if preferred. (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Build and handling

(Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Once you overcome the initial surprise at the physical size of the device (it’s just over 18cm / 7 inches long), the next thing you notice is how reassuring the build is, and the quality of the fabric cover. Connecting up is a tad odd because there are dual USB-C connectors on the back (one for power, one for data, clearly marked). There is also a USB-A port for compatibility with some Anker accessories we didn’t test).

Inevitably if the camera is rested on a monitor opening and closing the flap reminds you of that with a wobble, but the hinge itself is perfectly balanced. 

In terms of on-camera operation, all the controls are finger-taps; mute at the left-hand end, light on/off at the right, and you can even slide your finger along the front to change the brightness.

Other controls are left to the elegant AnkerWork tool (Mac or PC). The AI “Solo-Frame” (tracking) option is not excessively close-cropping on the face, so was easy to choose confidently. We especially liked that the image settings sliders couldn’t be pushed to the point no image was visible, while retaining a range of adjustment.

Left is the iMac’s built in camera, 1080P, while on the right is the view seen from the B600 mounted above it. Note the richer detail in the face, visible despite the wider field of view. (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Performance

The first question must, inevitably, be about the video quality. What AnkerWork call 2K is in truth a modest way to describe 2560 x 1440 pixels, which does look very sharp (some marketing mathematicians seem happy to call 1080P ‘2K’ on the grounds that the horizontal pixel measurement is nearly 2000 – the B600 is better than that!) 

However, the zoom isn’t optical, so a 2K image at 95˚ crops to 1080P at 78˚ and by the time you get down to 65˚ the 720P resolution does look notably softer on a large screen – that means, in effect, the auto tracking, while good, can also make the image look softer.

When called for – when the ambient dips below 30lux – the light does its job very well, being big enough to offer a diffused light which doesn’t appear as a blinding pin-prick in the gloom.

Here the AnkerWork and the monitor are the only light-sources in the office. In so far as is possible given the subject, the lighting is flattering - and signifiantly better than the image from the computer's built-in camera  (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Auto-focusing takes around half a second – a blink of an eye in terms of video calls (though it feels a little laggy to DSLR owners). In our test detailed objects behind the subject occasionally distracted it, but more sensibly arranged furniture could alleviate this.

Tested in comparison to the 1080P FaceTime camera of a 2020 iMac – and the image felt clearer, richer and a lot closer to real-life in terms of color and tonal range.

AnkerWork B600 Video Bar review

Some softness is, of course, visible using the digital zoom but the video quality is still comfortably in excess of the average built-in camera and the framing can be chosen to better-suit the current level of office cleanliness! (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

The 4-microphone array, too, did better than the iMac’s already none-too-bad noise cancellation routines when it comes to eliminating background sound. At the same time the voice laid down was crisp and clear, though if we had to find fault, perhaps a little less rich.

The built-in speaker is solid where it needs to be for meetings – normal vocal range – but definitely lacks bass, so we doubt it’ll replace the main computer speakers for many. There is more oomph than some laptops, but that’s not saying much.

The weight of the device meant that, while the MacBook successfully powered it via the USB cable, as soon as the monitor was adjusted to a comfortable angle, the whole machine tipped backward! (A mini tripod (opens in new tab) would solve this) (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Verdict

We found the B600 to be an excellent product, a joy from the moment we opened the gorgeous packaging. The B600 might be aiming at something of a niche – those prepared to pay a bit more to look better in video calls – but it’s not a small niche. What narrows it further is the weight, which will pull the average laptop hinge to its limits, but there are solutions to this too.

The touch buttons and elegant software make using the B600 painlessly easy. The auto white balance and other functions blend so easily into the background that this is an easy device to love, but the fact you can warm the light – no mere digital filter – gives a feel of sophistication we enjoyed.

If you’re looking for higher resolution and can provide your own lighting, the Logitech Brio Stream (opens in new tab) might be a better bet, though no less pricey, while more mobile vloggers most interested in the tracking aspect should also take a look at the Obsbot Tiny 4K.

If your main use will be live calls, and don’t mind the price or the size, this is an excellent device that will make your video feed look professional without adding stress to the workflow.

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With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones (opens in new tab), The Smart Smart Home Handbook (opens in new tab), 101 Tips for DSLR Video (opens in new tab) and The Drone Pilot's Handbook (opens in new tab)