the sound bar for not smart TVs

The JBL Link Bar is the perfect companion for old televisions, deprived of an ecosystem like Android TV.

It’s been several years since the sound bars have invaded the Fnac, Darty and other baker. It must be said that they have everything to please: the requirement of a home theater, which requires knowledge and complex installation, they respond with simplicity. Above all, they make it possible to improve the sound reproduction without taking the lead, the speakers of the televisions being never a strong point (except on some very high-end models). The JBL Link Bar stands out from its competitors by another argument: it ships Android TV.

Soundbar JBL Link Bar // Source: JBL

In other words, the Link Bar intends to make smart a TV that is not, either because it is too old (it does not change every year), or because its operating system is mediocre (example: Panasonic ). In addition to the acoustic benefits that we are entitled to expect from a soundbar, the Link Bar allows access to a variety of useful applications, as well as Google Assistant.

The Link Bar looks like … a soundbar. If we put aside its rather imposing dimensions (more than a meter long), it is based on a very sober design, designed to blend into an interior without causing any surprise. Just betrayed by the four small bright spots affiliated with Google Assistant. Otherwise, we particularly appreciate this acoustic fabric that replaces the usual grids. We also like this rounded shape that does not hurt the look. Just make sure that the bottom of your screen is not hidden by its height (6 centimeters). On the top, there are some useful buttons, and the switch to cut the microphones.

JBL has thought of everything, including integrating complete connectivity. First of all, there are three HDMI inputs compatible with 4K and HDR, for those who do not want to hear about ARC technology. By the way, it allows to connect more devices if your TV is limited on this point. An excellent point. In contrast, the Link Bar is not very scalable. It can be associated with an additional subwoofer, but no pair of speakers for real surround effects.

The bar comes with a small remote control that goes to the basics and looks like an accessory that comes with a classic TV box. Point to note: it does not allow to control other devices.

Soundbar JBL Link Bar // Source: JBL

The Link Bar is therefore both a soundbar and a TV box powered by Android TV – one if not the best operating system in terms of features and applications available. Here we have everything: Netflix (which is even entitled to his shortcut on the remote), Amazon Prime Video, MyCanal, Molotov, RMC Sport … There is plenty to find happiness. Of course, the Link Bar is compatible with Chromecast technology.

In use, the Link Bar is very nice

In use, the Link Bar is very nice: we note the fluid navigation and the Android TV interface, if not pretty, is very practical with its vertical layout and horizontal. If necessary, it is possible to customize the reception by displaying only the channels that really interest us. There is finally a tab ‘My selection’ to quickly access the programs being played. It is convenient for those who devour many series.

If the remote has a button dedicated to Google Assistant, it is possible to solicit artificial intelligence only to the voice, saying ‘Ok Google’ (for example to launch the application Netflix). We obviously find all the benefits of the assistant in terms of ergonomics (even if we would like to be able to turn off the bar without pressing a button). However, we encountered some difficulties to complete the configuration of Google Assistant, which prevents access to certain commands. On this point, the Link Bar is very capricious.

Soundbar JBL Link Bar // Source: JBL

When you’re used to watching movies with a real dedicated home theater, judging a soundbar can seem complicated. In the case of the JBL Link Bar, it can already be said without much problem that it buries most of the speakers that are found in televisions (usually a big defect). With the soundbar, we benefit from dialogs much more intelligible and clear, without the need to push the volume (and explode eardrums during commercials). Otherwise, the Link Bar is quite directive in its rendering, with a wraparound content and a sound stage that focuses more on the front. An equalizer is available in the menu, except that it does not allow to push the settings very far.

We can also blame the product for its weak dynamic, the fault of the bass who struggle to assert their presence (perhaps the box helps to support them a little more). For high-performance films, it will sometimes be difficult to feel the impact of the big action scenes. In addition to this, the Link Bar is very comfortable when it comes to mastering the phenomenon of distortion, even with a little volume pushed, while it has no trouble to restore music with good performance . Proof that, overall, the balance is in order. To go further, it will simply put more expensive … or invade his living room with speakers.




Indicative rating: 3/5

Sound bar, Android TV box and connected speaker, the Link Bar excels in nothing and it feels when you want to push a little too far. It is especially aimed at a very particular audience: those who would like to make their TV more intelligent. For those concerned, it’s a real added value.

In this part box, the Link Bar is very convincing. It has nevertheless been found a little capricious with Google Assistant (in the configuration). Her side, she supplanted without difficulty the speakers of an (old) TV. But we can find better at this price. If you are not interested in the Android TV part, go your way.

top

  • Android TV
  • Three HDMI inputs
  • Desin sober

Bad

  • Its a bit flat
  • Google Wayward Wizard
  • We pay Android TV

Photo credit of the one:
JBL

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