With Google I/O 2018 just around the corner, Google has partnered with JBL to introduce a new product that offers an interesting combination of features. The JBL Link Bar has the form factor and functionality of a typical soundbar, but also adds a couple of key Google integrations into it – Android TV and Google Assistant. This means that in addition to serving as a soundbar speaker for your TV, it will also work as a smart set-top box that lets you connect to a variety of apps and services on Google’s Android TV platform.
Google Assistant integration will also allow it to function as a smart speaker that is linked to your Google account, and will work to integrate information collected from your other devices as well. This will make it similar to the Google Home speaker, but the experience and reputation of JBL will mean this appeals more to buyers that are concerned with the sound.
As an Android TV-powered device, the JBL Link Bar will serve as a smart set-top box for your TV, connecting to the TV using the HDMI port and allowing the Link Bar to send a video signal to the TV while retaining audio output with itself or receiving an audio signal from the TV when its smart functionality is not in use. Android TV supports a variety of apps and streaming services, such as YouTube, Netflix, a variety of games and social networking apps, and more.
WATCH: JBL Link Bar powered by Android TV
The JBL Link Bar doesn’t go on sale for a while, and will likely be launched properly alongside the next Pixel devices in the second half of this year. However, it does look like an interesting product on the face of it, and Google Assistant integration will also allow users to use it for IoT applications with other connected devices in the home.