The JBL Link Bar is now scheduled to become available to buy in the Spring and will cost $399.95 when it arrives. The updated release time was provided by JBL along with the various other announcements made by the company to coincide with CES 2019.
The JBL Link Bar was first announced in May of last year during Google's I/O event and instantly made its presence felt. The recent for the increased attention was the fact that the Link Bar was not only a soundbar, but one powered by Android TV. Making it the first time a speaker-like device had been announced with Android TV included, and marking a significant departure from Android TV's typical TV and/or box form.
Following the May unveil, the Link Bar went up for pre-order in August and had initially been expected to ship to those who pre-ordered starting in October, 2018.
Later in the year, and just before the shipping was expected to commence, reports started to emerge suggesting the device was likely to be delayed.
The cause of the delay remained unknown although emails sent out from at least one retailer to customers who had pre-ordered indicated the delay was intentional on JBL's behalf. Leading to the suggestion the device may not have been quite as ready for user consumption as first thought.
The same emails suggested the delay could run into 2019.
This announcement is the first time JBL has provided a firm confirmation on when the device will become available to buyers in the US.
The Link Bar remains an interesting proposition as it essentially looks to combine multiple products into one. This is a soundbar in the traditional sense, but also a streaming device thanks to the included Android TV interface which is accessible once connected to a TV.
The Link Bar also features Google Assistant and therefore has the potential to also double as a smart home hub when coupled with compatible smart home devices. Chromecast is also included allowing users the option to stream content from a smartphone or other cast-enabled device.
Similar to a standard soundbar, the Link Bar also permits connections of other home entertainment devices (such as a Blu-ray player) and the use of Android TV and Google Assistant combined means users can switch between inputs manually or by using voice commands.
JBL has also confirmed those in need of a more powerful bottom end will be able to purchase a subwoofer that works with the Link Bar. The optional sub is also expected to become available in the Spring and will be priced at $299.95 in the US.
At close to $700 for the soundbar and sub, this does make the full Link Bar experience an expensive one compared to similar package options. However, the Link Bar is currently a unique product and one that assumes the place of multiple other products, including a dedicated streaming box and smart home hub.
If the individual items were to be purchased separately, the combined cost would come close, if not exceed that for the Link Bar and subwoofer. Making this the better option for those who want to cut down on the number of products in the home, without cutting down on the features offered by the multiple products. Arguably, the experience within the one soundbar will be of a heightened quality considering the product is designed to offer a more seamless experience compared to using and connecting different products together.