JBL Link 10 And JBL Link 20 Review

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Just like ultimate ears which released their Alexa compatible smart speakers the blast and MegaBlast, JBL released their own smart speakers under their link series lineup. But the major difference here is these JBL Speakers work with Google Assistant instead. But although the JBL Link 10 and Link 20 sound much better than UE’s new speakers, JBL didn’t quite stick the landing. Dont forget to like comment and subscribe and you can watch some of my other videos here after you’re done watching this video. 

right now there are 3 JBL link speakers to choose from, and they all come in either black or white. The smallest speaker is called the JBL Link 10 and it retails for $149.95. Then theres the slightly larger JBL link 20 which retails for $199.95. And then the largest speaker in JBL’s Link series line up is the JBL Link 300 which retails for $249.95 but it doesn’t have a built in battery. And for comparison your standard google home typically retails for $130 but usually goes on sale. If you want to pick either of these speakers up I’ll have links in the description below and I’ll keep them updated so you can get the best deal possible. 

The JBL Link 10 and Link 20 are pretty typical JBL speakers, you get the same bright orange USB charging cable and the same wall adaptor. Except for the JBL Link 10, you don’t get a wall adaptor with that one, and I’ll go into detail on why thats a huge mistake on JBL’s part in a few. But both the link 10 and link 20 are IPX 7 certified just like most other JBL portable speakers which means they can get wet without any issues. They also have the same fabric outer shells. On the front of the speaker there are some led’s that light up when google starts listening to you when you say hey google or ok google. On the top you’ve got your control buttons to adjust your music’s volume, you can toggle bluetooth on or off, you have a dedicated button to summon your google assistant and you’ve got a play pause button as well. Obviously if you press it itll play or pause your music, and if you double press it will skip a track, but unfortunately triple pressing wont go back a track. And having these manual controls are a very welcomed addition over the google home. With the google home you can only adjust the volume or play or pause your music by using the track pad controls… but you cant skip or go back a track you can only do that by voice if your phone isn’t around. And I just find it weird cause I feel google could just add a swipe left or swipe right gesture. On the back you’ve got your power button with a fuel gauge on the top and below that you also have a mic mute button which will shine orange on both the front and back of the speaker. And on the bottom you’ve got a rubber grommet that houses a micro USB port for charging. But unfortunately these speakers don’t have an aux jack, you can only stream music on them over wifi or bluetooth. But at least switching between the two sources is pretty seamless unlike the UE blast and megablast. 

What makes the Link 10 and Link 20 stand out is their google assistant integration. And its super easy to set up, all you have todo is open up the Google home app on your phone and set up takes a few minutes. And using google assistant on the JBL link speakers is identical to using it on a google home. Response and processing times are the same. And for those who are new to google assistant you can ask it questions, give it commands, or control your smart home just by asking just to name a few. And google assistant is constantly gaining new abilities.

And the range of these speakers is just as good as it is on the google home. You never really have to shout or enunciate your words so google assistant can hear you. 

But although JBL classifies these speakers as voice activated portable speakers, I wouldn’t use them in the same way I would that I use either the Flip 4, JBL Xtreme, JBL pulse 3, or so on. First off battery life on these speakers is super weak, the Link 20 advertises a battery life of 10 hours while the Link 10 advertises a battery life of 5 hours. And I routinely got less on both speakers. Where as the flip 4 is good for about 14 hours, the JBL Xtreme is good for 16 hours and the Pulse 3 is good for about 12 hours depending on how you use it. Also, the Link 10 and 20 don’t have JBL connect plus, so they cant be paired to other JBL speakers. And keep in mind if the JBL link speakers aren’t connected to wifi then google assistant wont work. Without wifi or access to google assistant they instantly become over price Flip 4’s that have a very bad battery life and don’t have JBL connect plus. I like to look at the JBL Link Series speakers as an alternative to a google home that have much better sound quality and happen to have a built in battery that will last you a short listening session. Cause the google home doesn’t have a built in battery. And not to mention, these speakers do take a good amount of time to boot up. 

And as smart speakers are starting to get more and more popular, manufactures are really starting to focus on sound quality… something google said they were focusing on when they announced the soon to be released google home max and something apple said was their main priority with their recently delayed Apple Home Pod. And without a doubt either of these 2 JBL speakers sound way better than the google home.

First lets start with the google home, if you’re building out your smart home and you plan on listening to a lot of music you’re better off with any other smart speaker. The google home is just not good for listening to music, it get over powered by its on bass and vocalists sound like they’re at the bottom of a well. 

Now when it comes to sound quality between the Link speakers and the Flip 4… the link speakers preform much better than the JBL Flip 4. First they don’t have as much treble as the flip 4, and their sound signature is much more even. They also have a wider sound stage and more bass. The highs on the flip 4 are also a little brighter and the flip 4 also manages to get a little louder than both of these speakers but at the expense of sound quality. 

Now when it comes to comparing the Link 10 versus the Link 20 the biggest difference is the sound stage. The soundstage is just much wider and the link 20 also has a little more bass. But it dosnt get all that much louder… the link 20 just has slightly better sound quality and deeper lows than the link 10. 

Now lets talk about issues found on the JBL Link speakers. First they’re using bluetooth 4.2, which is good… they’re good for about a range of 70 feet. But the problem is if you’re going to watch a video using either of these two speakers and streaming over bluetooth theres a significant delay to the point that its unwatchable. Where as with the Flip 4 theres still a delay but not as bad as the link speakers. 

another problem is have with these link speakers are the constant wifi indicator lights on the front. You cant turn them off and you cant even dim them. If you plan on placing one of these smart speakers in your bedroom then the light can get pretty annoying for light sleepers like me. I personally feel the wifi indicator light should only turn on if theres a problem with the wifi connection. Cause even google’s own google home doesn’t have a constantly on wifi indicator light.

But my biggest problem are the included wall adapter and usb charging cable for these speakers. Like I said, I feel these speakers should be looked as google home smart speaker alternatives. If you buy a smart speaker you want it to be listening for the hot word at all times so when you need it its ready to go right then and there. And in order for the JBL Link 10 or Link 20 to always to be listening they have to always be turned on. So obviously they will constantly need to be plugged in cause their battery wont last too long. And also if they’re inactive for a while they’ll automatically shut off if they’re unplugged. But the included usb cables are way shorter than the cable the google home has and its an obnoxiously bright orange. Its not going to look good if you place it in a living room. And like I mentioned in the beginning of this video the link 10 doesn't come included with a wall adaptor and for a $150 speaker thats ridiculous. Personally I feel both of these speakers should come included with wall adapters but more importantly they should come with longer black or white cables. Cause if you want to use either of these speakers to their fullest potential they need to constantly be plugged in. 

But something else I’ve noticed with the JBL Link speakers is that there are some features missing that are found on the google home. For starters if you try to place a phone call by using google assistant the JBL speakers wont work. Where as the google home will place a phone call with no problem. I also noticed the new broadcast feature doesn't fully work with the JBL speakers. If you tell the JBL speakers to broadcast something only the google home will get the broadcast message. And if you tell the google home to broadcast something the JBL speakers wont do anything. All I’m saying is that if you decide to get either of these JBL speakers as a replacement for a google home then it might take a little longer for you to get the latest features sort of like how google’s pixel phones get the newest OS updates right away where as third party manufacture android phones might get the newest OS a few weeks later. SO could this mean there might be some fragmentation in future?

Like I’ve said in past videos, I think its great 3rd party manufactures are embracing voice assistants. And JBL did an ok job with their JBL link Series. Its a really good option for people who prefer to use google assistant and are pretty invested in the google eco system. The Link 10 and Link 20 perform just as well as a google home but sound much better. Setting them up and using them is a breeze and they have no problem switching from wifi to bluetooth streaming… something the UE Blast and Megablast really struggled with. But they do have their design quirks like needlessly constant on indicator lights and cables thats are too short. The Link 10 and Link 20 don’t really compete with the JBL Flip 4 or JBL Charge 3, they’re smart speakers that I feel predominantly should live in your home cause they’re best when they’re connected to wifi and they don’t have the longest battery lives. The Flip 4 and charge 3 are the ones I would take on a camping trip, to the beach, or on a hike. I like the JBL Link 20 and Link 10, but they do have room for improvement.