Update, July 10, 2019 (01:15 PM ET): The JBL Link Bar is now officially available for sale — roughly 14 months after it was announced. Its price in the United States is $400. You can buy the Link Bar by clicking here or the button below!
Original article, May 9, 2018 (03:24 PM ET): Just ahead of Google I/O 2018, Google and JBL announced the brand new JBL Link Bar. This combination speaker bar, smart speaker, and Android TV hub will turn pretty much any television into a smart streaming powerhouse.
The JBL Link Bar is the first hybrid device from a new Google/JBL partnership. It’s like someone mashed together a high-end speaker bar, a Google Home, and an Android TV media streamer like the Nvidia Shield, all into one sleek-looking package.
The Link Bar has an ethernet port and four HDMI ports on the back. Connect the Link Bar to your television through one of the HDMI ports, and then get it connected to the internet either through the ethernet port or built-in Wi-Fi. Once it’s all set up, you can use your voice to watch TV, listen to music, get answers to questions, or any other Google Assistant functions.
You can also connect to the Link Bar via Bluetooth, which will let you stream music from your phone.
As of right now, the only three standalone streaming boxes that officially come with Android TV are the aforementioned Nvidia Shield, the Xiaomi Mi Box, and the Razer Forge TV. Since the JBL Link Bar was developed in a Google partnership, this is the closest thing we have so far to a current, Google-made Android TV streamer.
The JBL Link Bar will have a demo session at Google I/O 2018 in the Android Sandbox. Google did not give an official release date for the new product, but said that it would be available in stores in “later fall 2018.” Google didn’t give any price details, but with JBL’s pedigree and all the features available with the Link Bar, you can expect the product to be pretty expensive.
What do you think? Would you buy a single unit device that has all these features? Or would you instead want separate devices for these functions? Let us know in the comments!