Earlier this week, just before Google I/O 2018 kicked off, Harman announced its new JBL LINK BAR with assistance from Google. Harman is owned by Samsung thanks to a recent acquisition, and in the latest Android TV news, Google was announced an official partner in making the Android TV powered JBL LINK Bar.
JBL LINK BAR is a unique product coming to the Android TV market this Fall. The device is a soundbar and in a lot of ways, your traditional soundbar. But it’s what lies beneath the skin that makes this one unique.
The soundbar branded under JBL, who has branded a couple of Google devices in the past, runs the latest version of Android TV. We’re not exactly sure which version this is with Android P on the horizon, but figure it’ll be new and the best version out to date. It’ll also include the full Google Assistant functionality, making it one of a select few alongside the latest NVIDIA SHIELD TV that will be up to date on the latest Android TV goods. We haven’t seen a whole lot of soundbars with Android TV, but I like the concept and word is this will be a “first in a series of many hybrid devices” from the company. It’ll be interesting to see if this could start a trend for Android TV devices going forward, as opposed to typical set-top boxes by merging with the home’s sound system.
On the exterior, LINK BAR has a total of four HDMI ports, which can be switched between using voice commands through the Google Assistant. Also included are optical audio, ethernet, Bluetooth, a 3.5mm jack, and 100W output for audio. While this all sounds good (no pun intended), I hope sound quality hasn’t been compromised all that much for the extra features.
As mentioned, Google Assistant will play a big part of this speaker and should be considered in any decision whether or not to buy this. Not only can Google Assistant do all the regular tasks for you, it also functions when the TV is powered off, just like a Google Home. Meaning, you can ask it questions just as you would a Google Home speaker and get answers without even having the Android TV interface powered up and running. This works through integrated microphones and I’m assuming a wireless remote. It remains to be seen how good it’ll work.
The all-one-device will save room in your home entertainment center for sure, but we expect it to come at a high cost. This is an interesting new take on getting Android TV in your living room, one that may help Google in getting more consumers to adopt the platform that has received little treatment of late, and comes in few options with little diversity. After supporting the Nexus Player for a long time, Google finally retired the device this year, announcing that it would not receive future platform updates like Android P. We saw an odd-Chromecast device a few weeks ago with Google branding and if launched, this could demonstrate Android TV’s latest capabilities along with JBL LINK BAR, to the market. Google I/O 2018 is taking place as we speak in Mountain View, CA, where Google could announce an upgrade for Android TV and more to provide a much-needed boost. We’ll let you know if we get anything worth reporting.
Let us know your thoughts and stay here at Droid Turf.