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The JBL Link Bar is a soundbar running Android TV and Google Assistant

By Ng Chong Seng - on 8 May 2018, 9:55am

The JBL Link Bar is a soundbar running Android TV and Google Assistant

Google’s I/O developer conference hasn't officially started yet, but that isn’t stopping the Mountain View company and its partners from announcing new products. Fresh out of California this week is news of the JBL Link Bar, a soundbar made by JBL (which is owned by Samsung Electronics through its Harman subsidiary) running Android TV and Google Assistant.

Basically, the Link Bar is able to turn any TV into a smart TV running Android TV. It being a soundbar is actually a plus point, because traditionally, to get Android TV you’ve to either get an Android TV-powered TV set or connect the TV to an Android TV set-top box. The soundbar has four HDMI ports (three inputs, one ARC), and supports Bluetooth, 3.5mm and optical audio.

Thanks to Assistant integration, you can yell at the soundbar to control media playback and smart home devices. And non-video-related functionality, such as music control and home automation, can be done even when the TV is off. The 100W soundbar is capable of HDMI switching, and as you’d expect, you can easily switch inputs via voice (there are mics on both the soundbar and its remote). You can also connect the soundbar to an optional wireless subwoofer.

According to Google, the JBL Link Bar will be available sometime this fall. When it goes on sale, it should be one of the first devices to run Android P. Pricing is not available at this time.

The Assistant UI will overlay the current screen, but since it doesn't take up the whole screen, you can still continue with what you're doing.

(Image source: Google/JBL.)

Source: Harman.

Updated on May 9 with more details and hands-on photos.