JBL Link 300 Review

The Good Google Assistant-enabled JBL Link 300 holds Google Chromecast created in and can be linked to other Link and Chromecast speakers to form a multiroom set-up. It delivers outstanding sound for its size and has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The Bad There’s a little bit of appearance boost.

The Bottom Line For the capital, the JBL Link 300 counterparts up well versus the Sonos One and Apple’s HomePod.

Design  8.0
Features    9.0
Sound       9.0
Value  8.0

One of the significant concerns about both the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice-assistant platforms is that they’re both open. It’s comfortable for third-party companies to make suitable smart home devices that work with both of them. In fact, companies can also create their smart speakers to compete directly with those produced by Google and Amazon.

One of the latest organizations to take up the Google Assistant smart speaker mantle is JBL. Which released a unique line of voice-enabled speakers in late 2017 under its unique Link sub-brand. The Link 300 ($250, £200, AU$350) faces with such products as the Alexa-enabled Sonos One and the Siri-powered Apple HomePod. It may not look pretty as sleek as those speakers, but it is attractively designed and looks well built. It does share some closeness to JBL’s Playlist ($150, £90 or about AU$160), an affordable Chromecast speaker we preferred that lacks the voice-control option.

The Link line also emphasizes a combination of two entirely waterproof battery-powered portable speakers — the JBL Link 10 ($149.99 at T-Mobile USA) and Link 20 ($159.99 at Crutchfield) — as well as two AC-only models, the Link 300 ($199.99 at Crutchfield) and Link 500. The forthcoming Link View, meanwhile, is one of a new wave of Google Assistant gadgets with a screen built into it.

In addition to utilizing Google Assistant for its voice commands, all Link speakers are provided with Google Chromecast, which enables them to meet up not just with other Link speakers without any Chromecast-based audio device to create a multiroom audio structure over a Wi-Fi network. The speakers are further equipped with Bluetooth, which offers complete compatibility.

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Setting up the speaker is relatively simple. You use the Google Home($79.00 at Google Store) app on iOS and Android devices to log into the speaker with a direct Wi-Fi connection. Then you log onto your chosen network to get the speaker on it. You can then give it a description for a particular room and link it with other Chromecast-enabled speakers if you have them.

The Link 300 has two microphones at the top onward with some physical buttons, including volume controls. You can reach Google Assistant by pressing the middle button on top of the speaker and issue directions without having to say “Hey Google” first.

Alternatively, you can call out to that speaker by saying, Hey Google. A set of LEDs, which double as a battery-life indicator, lights up to tell you that speaker is available to take your command. Thanks to the dual mics, I had no problem assigning commands from several feet away in a normal voice. If the speaker is playing music at louder volumes, you will have to raise your voice for it to catch you over the music.

You can debate which voice assistant is the best. Alexa is currently predominant in the wireless speaker business with Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft‘s Cortana, and Samsung‘s Bixby all playing catch-up. And while the addition of Apple’s HomePod may shake things up, that speaker is relatively costly and feature-challenged: You can only access Apple-based music services via voice, and it needs an iOS device living on the equivalent network to perform basic tasks like reminders.

Google Assistant functions as well Alexa for basic tasks such as accessing music services, getting the newest news and weather. It’s also arguably superior for clarifying general questions because it’s tied to Google’s famous search engine.

Where it falls shortly related to Alexa is in the smart-home realm, where Alexa can control more products. Useless to say, like Alexa, Google Assistant will grow even more robust with time. (This list of Google Assistant commands will give you an idea of all the options for controlling this speaker with your voice.)

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Loud sound for a compact speaker

The Link 300 delivers loud noise for its relatively compact size. It easily bests Amazon’s much smaller (and more affordable) second-gen Echo and fills a little to medium-sized room with music.

The Link 300 does have some presence boost. Which is a different way of saying that there’s a bit of treble push that helps deliver a little extra clarity and joy. There are times when the speaker seems a little bright. Especially when you crank the volume. There are moments when I preferred the sound of the more reserved, less pushy Sonos One. But overall I liked the music of the Link 300 better.

Next up was the HomePod. While the JBL goes deep, the HomePod’s bass is a little tighter, and the speaker sounds slightly more refined overall. It’s not a huge difference, but there is a difference. The HomePod wins, but it costs at least $100, £100 or AU$150.

In conclusion, I think the Link 300 is one of the best speakers of its kind. Yes, if you’re watching for a speaker that you can use to kick out dance music for a party. The more prominent Link 500 is going to do a better job at that. But its meatier bass lacks a little definition and is a bit thumpy at higher volumes. It will be overkill for a lot of people.

I do think the Link 300 would do better at $50 less, matching the Sonos One’s $200 list price. But it does get discounted to $200 occasionally. If you do see it at that price, it’s a good bargain.

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