Your old TV’s remote controller may be permanently relegated to the cabinet, especially if you get the JBL Link Bar. The smart soundbar will enable you to control your old TV by simply using your voice. Announced back at Google’s I/O conference this past May, JBL’s newest smart soundbar is slated to finally be available this Spring. And based on a semi-private demo I had with the soundbar last week at CES, it’s going to be worth the wait.
When connected to your “dumb” TV, the JBL Link Bar essentially turns it into an Android TV. And instead of using your TV’s handheld remote to do most navigation tasks, you’ll be able to do most everything with your voice. You can use your voice to search for movies, music and videos, or even switch between HDMI inputs (there are multiple 4K video inputs), which is super nice for those with a gaming console, streaming dongle and cable.
The other neat thing is the Link Bar also works similarly to a Google Home speaker, and it can answer all your “Hey Google” queries. For example, you can use your voice to control various smart home devices. Since has built-in Chromecast, you can also cast your favorite content right to it from your phone, tablet or laptop. As far as sound, not too much has been released about the speaker’s guts, but according to the press release, the Link Bar “brings the best of JBL’s sound to any TV with rich bass performance.”
During my demo, I thought the JBL Link Bar sounded terrific. Loud, clear and punchy. Of course, that was with the $300 optional subwoofer connected. But even by itself at $400, this soundbar seems well worth the investment for all it brings to the table. Just don’t tell your remote, it’ll break its poor little-antiquated heart.
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