[Update: Now Available] JBL LINK BAR is a soundbar with Android TV and Google Assistant built-in
Android TV has not exactly flourished as a platform. There are only a handful of devices on the market and app support isn’t great. On the verge of their big annual event, Google has dropped some news regarding a new product in the Android TV family. The JBL Link Bar is not just another set-top box. This is a soundbar with Android TV and Google Assistant built-in.
The JBL Link Bar was created in a partnership between JBL and Google. The soundbar plugs into your TV via HDMI, like a set-top box. But instead of playing audio from the Android TV interface through your TV speakers, you get much better audio quality from the soundbar. The JBL Link Bar can also double as a Google Home. Just say “Hey Google” and Assistant will perk up and listen, even if the TV is off.
Google says this is “the first in a series of hybrid devices that delivers a full Assistant speaker and Android TV experience.” That’s good news for Android TV fans. Many people wonder where Android TV fits in with Google’s much more successful Chromecast device. This news seems to suggest that Android TV will keep on kicking as its own thing. The JBL Link Bar will be available sometime this Fall for an undisclosed price. Stay tuned for demos of this device at Google I/O this week. Are you interested in a hybrid device like this?
Update: Now Available
The JBL LINK BAR was announced in May of 2018 and they said it would launch sometime later that year in the Fall. Obviously, that never happened. The good news is JBL has finally released the device, only 14 months later. You can buy the LINK BAR right now from JBL’s website for $399. It is listed as in stock and ready to ship, arriving as early as Monday, July 15th.