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JBL Link Bar review
Posted on 9-Dec-2019 11:02 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

JBL Link Bar review

How do you make your average TV smarter in one single step? The JBL Link Bar is here to make it even simpler.


The JBL Link Bar is a smart soundbar that can instantly upgrade your TV viewing experience without having to invest on a brand new TV. The smart soundbar provides great sound while bringing Android TV features only found in smart TVs that cost a lot more.


I know all this because my current TV is not a smart TV (a large 4K TV with three digits price tag) and the sound is, putting it mildly, terrible. With my current TV set I find it hard to clearly hear dialog, while background noise sounds muffled. This is something that afflicts lots of different models on budget brands. In my case I am perfectly happy with the picture quality but the sound is something that annoys me - and not something that you can really test on a show floor.


After installation the JBL Link Bar will guide you through pairing the device with the supplied Bluetooh remote control, connecting to the local network (either via ethernet or WiFi - including support for 2.4 GHZ and 5 GHz) and authenticating with your Google account. 


You will be presented with the standard Android TV menu and from there you can either watch content from the many streaming apps available - including Netflix, Disney+, TVNZ on Demand, etc - all available from the Google Play Store. All this with 4K support, where the app supports this format (Netflix and Disney+ are just examples of 4K-ready apps).


The JBL Link Bar comes with three HDMI ports (all supporting 4K inputs) and a HDMI ARC output port used to connect it to your TV.


This means you can have three different physical video/audio sources to watch content from, in addition to the Android TV apps installed - examples of inputs are Freeview receiver, SKY box, Blu-ray/DVD player and so on.  In addition to this, the JBL Link Bar also comes with built-in Chromecast, so you can easily cast content from supported mobile apps on your smartphone, tablet or computer.


The JBL Link Bar also supports Bluetooth for audio streaming. You can pair the soundbar with your smartphone or tablet and start your favourite music app and listen to music through its speakers. This is particularly useful for guests/friends visiting you that want to share their playlists.


You can easily switch between these inputs using the remote control, or even easier, using your voice. This is because the JBL Link Bar supports Google Assistant so you can interact with it just by saying the prompt "Ok, Google" followed by a command. Examples are "Switch to HDMI 1" or "What's the weather today?". You can also give commands like "Increase volume" or "Reduce volume" to control the sound and if you have other devices connected to your Google account you can control via Google Assistant. In reality any command you can give to your Google Assistant on an Android smartphone will work just fine here (and if you have the Spotify app installed and logged in, you can give commands like "Play my [playlist] on Spotify).


The JBL Link Bar also supports HDMI CEC, a feature that allows you to control TV sets from a different device - in this case it makes it easier to turn the TV on and off using the soundbar remote control.


In terms of sound, as I mentioned, it makes the whole setup a lot better. With two 20mm (0.8") tweeter, four (44 x 80)mm (1.7" x 3.2") racetrack drivers it gives you a good frequency response range of 75Hz–20kHz (with four different sound EQ presets to select from) but you can also pair it with an external sub-woofer (sold separately) if you want that much more bass. 


The result is a much better TV sound, with clear dialogs and separation of sound effects. 


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