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JBL Link View preview: The Echo Show rival with Google Assistant

Christopher Minasians
11 Jan 2018

Google takes aim at the Echo Show with the Assistant-powered JBL Link View in the vanguard

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The battle for the smart home speaker market is well and truly raging right now, with Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo devices going head-to-head in a seemingly never-ending price war.

The one area in which Google has so far lagged behind its rival, however, is in the speaker-with-a-screen stakes. Well, now the Amazon Echo Show has a rival: the Google Assistant-driven JBL Link View, which was announced alongside a small handful of similar speakers from other third-party manufacturers.

JBL Link View hands-on: UK Price and release date

Unfortunately, JBL has not yet revealed its UK price, though, that doesn’t stop me making an educated guess. JBL currently has a similar sized speaker, the Playlist, which costs around £150 and comes with Google’s Chromecast built-in.

With its main rival the Amazon Echo Show costing around £200, it doesn’t take Holmesian levels of deduction to work out that the JBL Link View will probably weigh in at around the same amount. JBL has given the speaker a rough ‘summer 2018’ release date but there’s nothing firmer than this just yet.

JBL Link View hands-on: Features and specs

Alas, the oval-shaped Link View was firmly locked in a glass case the Google CES booth, so I can’t comment on sound quality, touchscreen responsiveness or build quality, but it’s the concept that so interesting here and given JBL has a solid track record in speaker manufacture, I’m pretty confident it isn’t going to drop the ball on this one.

The speaker has a front-facing, five-megapixel camera and, as for that screen, it measures 8in across the diagonal, has a resolution of 1,280 x 720 and is capable of displaying a similar array of information as the Echo Show. There’s support for voice-calling, Google Photos and YouTube among other things.

The speaker’s twin 10W drivers flank the screen and face forwards with a passive radiator at the rear to reinforce the bass notes. The speaker is also capable of 24-bit audio streaming and, as with Google Home and Home Mini there’s Chromecast built-in for multi-room setups. This allows you to connect up the JBL Link View with other Google-powered speakers, for simultaneous playback across multiple devices.

JBL Link View hands-on: Early verdict

The JBL Link View is an intriguing device and it will be interesting to see how well it compares with the Echo Show when we eventually get our hands on a review device.

The problem JBL and Google are likely to have is that Amazon is so far ahead with the Echo Show, bringing constant improvements that it may prove difficult to keep up.