So our Friends at JBL provided us with one of their newest products to review, the JBL Link 300.
As homes become more connected, and services such as Google Assistant become more user friendly, common and accessible, we are going to need these devices to access the services Google home can offer us.
Our aim with this review is to demonstrate exactly what a google Assistant device is, help you decide if it is something you want or need to delve into, and since it is new, explain the hype, the misconceptions and the entertainment value of it, and why a quality product like the JBL Link 300 is so important.
So have a read, interact with the features we have added to our review to explain this awesome device, and see if “Hey google” is something you need in your life.
So first of all..the obligatory “What’s in the box?”
Now this may seem a strange thing to focus on….but JBL do packaging SO WELL! the box is made of thick cardboard, has a great really colourful design, which is in some parts embossed, glossy and matte. A big feature is the well known JBL orange. Care is taken to get the product to you in as good condition as it left the factory.
So there is of course the JBL Link 300, a nice sized oval shaped speaker unit.
1 Power adapter.
1 AC power cord.
Small instruction booklet and warranty info sheet.
Below we have our time-lapse un-boxing of the JBL Link 300, from our YouTube channel.
Videos on YouTube are new for us, so if you enjoy this video please consider giving it a thumbs up! Plus if you follow us on YouTube you will get notifications of new videos we produce.
So first of all lets look at the main part, the actual Link 300 itself.
The front view is mainly just the heavy duty fabric we have come to know JBL for. It is well executed, with no bubbling or imperfections. There is a small WiFi symbol near the base which lights up to indicate the Link 300 is connected, and ready to interact with you.
Above this is a small metal JBL logo, the only visible branding on the front of the speaker.
Visually the speaker is predominantly plastic and fabric, has a lovely oval shaped design which is not dissimilar to an older style radio. JBL have designed a speaker which will fit well into just about any environment, able blend into the background, or be center stage. It just depends on you!
The Link 300 is solid but not in an unattractive way, and lets face it, this is not supposed to be a portable speaker. There is no battery which means it does require plugging in, so size and weight are not an issue. This speaker is a base unit for all your Google Assistant and speaker needs. Portability comes with the other family members, the Link 10 and Link 20, which can be “linked” (hence the name) to the Link 300 to create sound and control in every room of your house. The Link 10 and 20 could even be used outside your house, since they are also waterproof.
The rear of the speaker has an awesome bass resonator, which pumps out some fantastically deep bass sound.
The very top of the speaker features the button panel. These are membrane type buttons, including play/pause, volume up/down, microphone muting/un-muting and BlueTooth pairing. The middle of the panel features the Google Assistant button.
There are also 2 microphone holes.
On the rim of the top, close to the mesh fabric of the main body of the speaker are four LED light indicators, which are on when in use, displaying the volume setting and also when the microphone is active and the Google Assistant is “listening”, following a “Hey Google” command, or press of the Google Assistant button.
The bottom of the Link 300 houses a concealed area which allows for the power cord to be plugged in, contains a reset button and also a micro USB port for maintenance and updates of the Link 300. There is a notch in the base to allow for the power cord.
The base of the Link 300 is also rubberised, providing great grip on the surface you place it on, but also acts to reduce vibration when in use.
And lastly we have the sides….just sides really nothing much to see here!
So now you have seen the Link 300 from EVERY angle I guess your keen to see some specs?
Link 300 Specs:
• Transducer: 1 x 89mm woofer, 1 x 20mm tweeter
• Output power: 2 x 25W
• Frequency response: 55Hz-22kHz (-6dB)
• Signal-to-noise ratio: >80dB
• Power Supply: 19VDC, 3.0A
• Wireless network: 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz)
• Power consumption in sleep mode: <3.0W
• Bluetooth version: 4.2
• Bluetooth transmitter frequency range: 2402 − 2480MHz
• Bluetooth transmitter power: <5dBm
• Bluetooth transmitter modulation: GFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK
• 5G Wi-Fi transmitter frequency range: 5.150~5.350GHz,
• 5G Wi-Fi transmitter power: <20dBm (EIRP)
• 5G Wi-Fi modulation: OFDM, BPSK, QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM,
• 5G Wi-Fi network compatibility: IEEE 802.11 n/ac
• 2.4G Wi-Fi transmitter frequency range: 2412 – 2472MHz
(2.4GHz ISM Band, USA 11 Channels, Europe and others
• 2.4G Wi-Fi transmitter power: <20dBm (EIRP)
• 2.4G Wi-Fi modulation: OFDM, DSSS, DBPSK, DQPSK, CCK,
• 2.4G Wi-Fi network compatibility: IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac
• Supported audio formats: HE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV
(LPCM), FLAC, Opus
• Dimensions (W x H x D): 236 x 134 x 154 mm
• Weight: 1.7 kg
So straight out of the box, set up for the Link 300 was a breeze.
The Link 300 will guide you through setup, so even if you have no idea, you will not be able to do it wrong! By simply saying “hey google” or by pressing the Google assistant button on top of the speaker, you will be informed of the steps you need to take to operate the Link 300. Here’s an example:
So, as your Link 300 has told you, the first step is to download the Google Home app (available for both Android and iOS) You will find this in the store on your phone/device. This is a free app, on both platforms.
Below we have an image from the stores of both devices. Android is on the left, iOS on the right. The app appears to be quite popular, rated 4.1 out of 5 on Android, and 4.3 out of 5 on iOS.
The Google home app allows you to connect your Link 300 to your home WiFi. (Because like all Google Assistant products, the Link 300 requires WiFi to work). Pairing your phone is a guided process within the app, and for me, using a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge the process was quick and seamless. Not so for my partner who has a iPhone, which was a little more difficult, but eventually we got there! (we have since determined that it was more a case of user error, rather than the device not connecting as it should). Once it is paired, you can name your speaker whatever you like, this is VERY handy if you plan on having more than one Google assistant speaker in your home, as it helps you identify which one you are connecting to.
Once you have connected the Link 300 to WiFi, you can determine the strength of the WiFi by looking at the WiFi symbol at the base of the Speaker (Under the square metal JBL logo). Using the WiFi symbol indicator to find the best spot in your house to put your Link 300 is advisable and easy, and will ensure that your “Hey Google” will not go unanswered.
The WiFi strength needs to be good to get optimum quality from your Link 300. (You want your WiFi strength to be as close to the “good” strength as is possible, which would be all 3 lights lit up.) This works much like your mobile, where the “bars” of reception go up and down depending on where you are with your phone. If you move to different areas of your house you will get different WiFi reception, so just put your speaker somewhere where the signal is good.
So Google Assistant can be used for literally thousands of things, and more uses are being added all the time. Every Google Assistant device will be different, as each user will have different uses for their speaker.
We have thoroughly enjoyed listening to Spotify music through this speaker, and because of the JBL quality, the sound is FANTASTIC. We simply have no use for any of our other speakers/radios/stereos now. This speaker can literally replace all of the old technology we have been hanging onto. And as Google Assistant can also play all of your local radio stations as well…why do we need radios anymore?
Initially we were under the misconception that we could only have one account linked to each speaker, but this is not the case. Google updated the multi-user feature, so as long as you are on the same WiFi network as the speaker, and have downloaded the Google home app to the device you wish to use, you can add your own account to the Google Assistant. So now everyone in the house (up to 6 users anyway) can access the news, ask Google for a joke or play a not at all annoying playlist of bagpipe music! Google Assistant will even get to know your voice so that it will access the data relevant to you, like your calendar or your Spotify library.
I have prepared a simple visual guide to adding multiple accounts using the Google Home app, see below:
We have played trivia games with Google, asked for directions, listened to the news, obtained currency conversions, checked the weather, tuned musical instruments, got live traffic reports, found the nearest pizza shop and found out what a Kookaburra sounds like.
I also enjoy cooking, so now, instead of relying on an app on my phone or the slightly dodgy timer on the oven to remind me not to burn the biscuits, I get Google to set a timer. All I have to do is say “Hey Google, set a timer for 20 minutes” and Google replies with “Ok, timer set for 4.35pm (or whatever time)” and it always works!
There are apps for kids, apps for adults, apps for sports, news, shopping and dictionaries.
I haven’t even touched on the apps for smart home controls. Simply because we have not invested in smart bulbs and switches, but if you do you can simply plug in your smart bulb then ask “hey Google, turn on the kitchen light” and hands free lighting is a thing!
The best place to get a comprehensive list of available uses for the Google assistant is on the GOOGLE ASSISTANT WEBSITE where it gives you the option to search “over 1 million actions to try”. The site is really easy to navigate, with the options broken down into categories, such as Arts & Lifestyle, Games & fun, Home control and Music &audio.
So not only does the JBL Link 300 use the Google Assistant for voice commands, but it also, (as well as the rest of the Link crew, the Link 10 and the Link 20) has Google Chromecast. This is a great feature, because this means that not only will the Link 300 link up with the other “Link” models, but it will also connect to any other Chromecast audio device. Enabling you to create a house wide audio setup using your home WiFi. (every android, and most iOS apps will send audio to chromecast speakers).
The Link 300 also incorporates Bluetooth, which means is it pretty much universally compatible.
The sound is what really sells this speaker. The fullness is there with luscious bass and crisps treble. We did expect this from JBL, and were glad not to be disappointed. The Link 300 is a really great size for a living room or similar and is able to fill a large area with ease. We have a small house, so it fills the house comfortably with sound. Combining the Link 300 with the Link 10 or 20 would be perfect for sound in other areas of the home, and portability of the Link 10 and 20 means you could take your sound with you outside or to the shed, which would be fantastic.
Sound is a difficult thing to capture for video reviews, we have tried to capture the awesome sound quality for you as best we can, using a good quality Rode VideoMic Go, and although it is really good sound, I can assure you the actual sound is much deeper, fuller and complex. You really have to be in the room with the speaker to fully appreciate the sound quality JBL brings to this unit. Here are some video clips to demonstrate. Also, I have also included some vision of the bass resonator at work, well because it looks cool. Normally the resonator would be aiming back, so the bass is a bit more balanced, so keep this in mind while watching the video with the resonator aiming towards the camera, as the bass sounds a little too emphasised which it would not be when facing the right way.
This first sound example is using the song “Royals” By Lorde This was played using our Premium Spotify account.
Lorde’s website can be found here. She is an incredible New Zealand born artist.
Since we wanted to show you some examples of strong songs, the next song is “Super massive black hole” by the band Muse. Their website can be found here. This song was also played through our Spotify account.
We have listened to jazz, blues, rock, pop, zen, country, relaxation, classical, harmonic and electric musical genres. They all sound great through the JBL Link 300. So do podcasts, the news and the various games and informative apps, such as weather.
There are literally tonnes of different types of Google home speakers out there, and they will become more and more popular.
The difference will be in the quality of the speaker. Yes you can go and pick up a google home mini for around $70 AUD (at time of publish) but the sound on these devices has been quoted as:
“A Sony clock radio from back in the day”….”Works great for voices, but not singing ones”….”similar to a laptop speaker. But worse”.
If playing music is important, which lets face it is going to be 90% of what you will use this speaker for, since the sound is THAT good, then quality is the most important feature, and well, JBL has quality down pat, and has done for years!
The dual Microphones built in the the Link 300 means that a voice command will be heard from at least 10 metres away. (I have activated the Google Assistant without meaning to from the other end of the house!) But if you have music on quite loud, it is sometime difficult to register your command without raising your voice significantly. This is where you either get used to shouting “hey Google” or you opt to press the Google Assistant button. It has not been a problem, it is just an observation.
I’m not sure if your aware, but Google is well known for its “Easter Eggs” which are intentional hidden messages, these are everywhere in Google land.. click here for an example if you wish. Well Google Assistant just couldn’t resist, and Australia has its very own Google Assistant Easter eggs. Try these if you grab yourself one of these JBL Link 300 speakers, I think you will get a laugh out of the responses!
So the results?
- Incredible sound. Great Bass and treble, clear crisp voice.
- Fantastic build quality. Durable, but not “industrial” looking.
- great Google Assistant integration which has great range and detection.
- Customer support with JBL is very satisfactory.
- Ability to link to other JBL “link” series for greater sound over a large area.
- Very easy to set-up.
- Huge variety of uses which can be modified to your needs.
- A design which will suit most environments.
- None found really. Sometimes we have had trouble with the microphone picking up our voice if the music was very loud, but you either speak louder or you use the Google Assistant button on the top to over-ride the need to use voice commands.
$349.95AUD (correct at time of publishing)
The JBL Link 300 can be purchased from JBL Australia: on their website.
I would score this product a very well placed : 5/5