The world's first soundbar with built-in Android TV and Google Assistant
functionality was formally unveiled in May 2018
, put up for pre-order several months later
, and... indefinitely delayed in October
. More than a year after its original announcement and with pretty much all that initial buzz vanished, the JBL Link Bar is finally "in stock and ready to ship" at the time of this writing from its manufacturer's official US e-store
Still priced at $399.95, which might seem a little excessive at first glance, the 100-watt powerhouse is decidedly feature-packed and incredibly versatile, doing a lot more than just filling your living room with JBL's "legendary sound." The Android TV-powered soundbar can essentially perform the standard duties of a smart speaker and set-top box as well, controlling your smart home, wirelessly streaming music from smartphones or tablets, and also featuring access to tons of convenient entertainment apps and services.
The native Google Assistant integration means you can search your favorite programs with your voice, while a single cable is required to connect the JBL Link Bar to any TV set and make it significantly smarter. Speaking of cables and ports, you should know this bad boy comes with three HDMI inputs and an HDMI ARC output, easily turning into a 4K entertainment hub for video or gaming devices.
All in all, this is definitely not what we'd call a mainstream, mass-oriented Android TV device, but we're pretty certain it's still going to appeal to quite a few hardcore fans of the Google ecosystem that can afford it, understand its many benefits and strengths, and can overlook this inexplicably long wait for a commercial release.
In case you're wondering, the Link Bar doesn't appear to be available from any third-party retailers in the US just yet, although B&H Photo Video
is accepting pre-orders without committing to a firm shipping date.