JBL has stepped into the smart speaker game with its new range, the Link 10. In the past year Australia has seen a growth of smart speakers with a handful of companies beginning to stock hands-free voice activated audio units.
This portable speaker is medium sized, waterproof, has 24bit sound with Chromecast built in meaning you can stream audio from your smartphone.
Unfortunately for my housemates, I am constantly asking the Link 10 questions because if someone doesn’t have the answer, my Google Assistant will.
This is the first time I have ever used a smart speaker so to me it was Christmas day every day when getting the speaker to do something. Even my housemates caved and asked it questions.
It’s the smallest in the Link family coming behind the Link 20 and Link 300.
To get the Google Assist activated you will have to set it up through the Google Home app, where you will link it to the Wi-Fi and get the system to recognise your voice. One of the problems I found with setting it up is you have the device right next to the Wi-Fi speaker or it won’t connect no matter internet strength.
When Google Assist is built into a home device it is made for four different functions: asking questions, managing your day and playing entertainment.
When asking a question begin your sentence with ‘Ok, Google’ and the speaker normally has the answer, unless you ask it to jump off the bridge.
The thing with Google Assist is the possibilities are endless, you can ask it to turn up the music, tell you the temperature in a specific suburb, make a list for you, set an alarm and tell you something in Spanish.
If you have a Chromecast device you are able to link it to Google Assist and ask the assistant to play shows, which I tried to do but the speaker had no idea what was going on so I think that is a job for the Google Home/Home Mini or through the Google Home app.
A problem I found when asking Google to play music it would connect to Spotify quite easily and play music but when I interfered through my Spotify app it sometimes stopped or when I was playing through Spotify if I asked Google to play a song I could no longer control the music from my phone.
When asking for new the Google Assistant will give you BBC news and when you ask for Australian news it says it can’t do it right now so maybe in the future there will an update for us fellow news loving Aussies.
The Link 10 are priced at $229 but you’re paying for quality Bluetooth speakers with a smart speaker embedded. In comparison the Google Home mini sells for $79 and the Google Home Smart Speaker sells for $199. When you compare The Link 10 with other Bluetooth speakers it’s a mid-range price compared to other JBL, Bose and Beats by Dre portable speakers.
The Sony equivalent is priced at $249 and it not portable.
With the speakers you get the device, charging cable and instructions.
JBL are known for their speakers and the sound quality, (my dad has had the same JBL speakers for the past 25 years for his home theatre and still blasts them). The speakers be 86mm x 169mm but the sound is exceptional for a medium unit.
I have left the speaker in my room and can listen to it clearly in the lounge room, 7 metres away. I live in an apartment but some other portable speakers I have used in the past have struggled just playing music less than a metre away from you.
When you’re using the speakers to play music via Bluetooth that is when you can use your phone to control the sound and playback. The only downside is you cannot control the volume with your phone when Google Assistant is controlling Spotify; you have to walk up to the speaker and adjust it.
The battery lasts only 5 hours; pretty poor considering the JBL Charge 3 can provide 20 hours of playback. The speaker is built to stay in one room so putting it near a power point can reduce the amount of pain when running around for an outlet/charging cables.
It also takes 4 hours to charge so if you’re planning on taking this bad boy out with you make sure its filled up with power. Another thing to note, if it is not connected to Wi-Fi Google Assistant won’t work, which when you think about it is a bit of a ‘duh’ situation since you need internet to use Google.
The JBL Link 10 is a good size speaker, easy to carry around and not heavy, it weighs just under 650g. The Link 10 comes in either black or white, so it can suit the design of most homes. The cylinder speaker does not have too many buttons so a technology deficient person won’t stress out about what not to press.
It is designed to be waterproof so I stuck it in the shower with music playing and it worked perfectly like nothing was happening to it. The device is made from material making it easy to dry and deal with so the speaker isn’t dripping over every object in your house.
The JBL Link 10 comes at a good price point considering it is a portable speaker with the addition of Google Assistant.
The only downside to this unit is the battery longevity but if you’re not happy with the battery either keep the speaker in one place or upgrade to the Link 20 that boasts 10 hours of playback.
Google Assistant needs some fine-tuning but for what it’s worth it is still a lot of fun to play with.