JBL LINK VIEW review: Google Assistant smart display with a decent screen and solid JBL sound

Google / Hardware Reviews / Reviews / Tech

While we found the most use for it in the kitchen, it’s sound quality makes it perfect for streaming music and other activities.

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Smart displays with Google Assistant are definitely something new. Our JBL LINK VIEW review takes a look at JBL’s entry into the smart display market which features an 8-inch screen and JBL’s signature sound.

Specifications

The JBL LINK VIEW has the following features and specifications:

  • The integrated display on the JBL Link View allows you to get things done easily
  • With voice assist built in, you can free up your hands to focus on things that matter most
  • Make a video call to your best friend, watch your favorite Youtube videos, relive your latest family vacation and even dim the lights for a movie
  • The JBL Link View features an 8-inch high definition touchscreen
  • A built-in camera shutter and microphone mute switch ensure the highest level of security and privacy
  • 8” HD touchscreen
  • 5MP front facing camera
  • Transducer: 2 x 51mm (2”) full range driver
  • Output power: 2 x 10W RMS
  • Frequency response: 60Hz-20kHz (-6dB)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: >80dBA
  • 2.4G Wi-Fi transmitter frequency range: 2412 – 2472MHz (2.4GHz ISM Band, USA 11 Channels, Europe and others 13 Channels)
  • 2.4G Wi-Fi transmitter power: <20dBm (EIRP)
  • 2.4G Wi-Fi modulation: OFDM, DSSS, DBPSK, DQPSK, CCK, 16QAM, 64QAM
  • 5G Wi-Fi transmitter power: <20dBm (EIRP)
  • 5G Wi-Fi modulation: OFDM, DSSS, DBPSK, DQPSK, CCK, 16QAM, 64QAM, 256QAM
  • 5G Wi-Fi transmitter frequency range: 5.15 – 5.35GHz, 5.470 – 5.725GHz, 5.725 – 5.825GHz
  • IPX4 splash proof
  • Power Supply: 100-240V~50/60Hz
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 332 x 152 x 100mm
  • Net Weight: 1.3kg

What’s in the box

  • JBL LINK VIEW
  • Power cable
  • Quick start guide
  • Music promotional insert card
  • Warranty card
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What’s in the box…

Design

Featuring an 8-inch screen, the JBL LINK VIEW smart display is oval shaped with speakers on either side. The speakers have a fabric speaker grille for a nice look, and the screen has half-inch bezels on the sides and roughly one-inch bezels on the top and bottom. The JBL logo is centered on the bottom while the camera is at the top center,  and a proximity sensor and two far-field microphones are on either side of the camera.

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The JBL LINK VIEW smart display.

Located just above the camera on the top/back of the smart display is a toggle switch which allows you to easily disable the camera. When disabled, an orange cover sits over the camera so you know it’s disabled at a glance. Under this switch is the volume up and down buttons. Centered below that is the microphone mute switch. 

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The camera and microphone privacy switches and volume control buttons.

Centered on the back of the speaker is the passive radiator. A silver plate with the JBL logo on it, it vibrates with the bass of your music while listening to it. Below this, at the bottom of the speaker, is a cutout for the power cable which connects to the power port underneath the speaker. The bottom of the speaker has an oval rubber ring with nubs on it to prevent sliding around when set down.

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The power port and grippy ring on the bottom of the LINK VIEW.

Display

The 8-inch display offers up a decent HD resolution of 1280×800 (189ppi) which is pretty clear and crisp given the screen size. It would be nice to see a 1080p FHD screen used here, especially considering this is an always powered device, for even extra crispness of text and images. Colours are pretty decent as well and aren’t overly saturated. Colour, of course, is most noticeable when the LINK VIEW is in idle mode and displaying images or artwork or when watching videos. In both cases, the colour representation is decent.

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The JBL LINK VIEW has a 1280×800 HD 8-inch screen.

The display also has an auto brightness feature which can be enabled or disabled. When enabled, it worked rather well in dimming or brightening the display as one would expect.

Setup/Ease of Use

In order to use the JBL LINK VIEW, you’ll need to set it up using the Google Home app on your smartphone. Fortunately, the LINK VIEW walks you through the steps, and it really is a painless process.

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Setting up the JBL LINK VIEW with the Google Home app is super simple.

Once setup, the LINK VIEW is just as easy to use. Swiping up on the screen brings up the brightness and volume options, swiping right goes back to the previous or home screen, and swiping left scrolls through your recents like Spotify or YouTube and tips for what you can ask the assistant to do.

Software

Used in conjunction with the Google Home app on your smartphone, the JBL LINK VIEW itself runs on Google’s Android Things software platform. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Google Home app is your central hub for your Chromecast, Google Home, and other Assistant speakers. Specific to the JBL LINK VIEW, when set up, you can change the device name, location (address), toggle personal results, home screen notification, set YouTube and YouTube TV restricted modes, disable YouTube for guests, and set up your number for Duo video calling.

Android Things is pretty straightforward and runs well on the JBL LINK VIEW. In this case, it’s definitely optimized for a touchscreen interface and responds well to both touch and voice commands. It’s just as easy to adjust the volume using the touchscreen controls as it is to say “Hey Google, turn the volume down.” Navigating through the interface can sometimes be easier using your finger than voice, however, but perhaps with more refinement and polish, Android Things will be more friendly to full user voice navigation.

It would be nice to have more access to settings on the speaker without having to grab your phone and launch the Google Home app. The biggest of these would be to be able to change the Wi-Fi network. When moving to a different one, you have to start the setup process all over again as you can’t change Wi-Fi network right on the speaker. While this is a minor pain, and relatively quick, if you’re using this in a couple of different locations (home and work perhaps?), it would be nice if it stored your recent Wi-Fi networks and let you toggle between them on the speaker.

Performance

As far as performance goes, the JBL LINK VIEW offers up generally decent performance. While the smart display responded promptly and accurately, for the most part, there were a few times when it just didn’t want to cooperate. During these times it wouldn’t understand stuff it previously understood, or totally misinterpret what you were asking it to do. The worst example was when we asked it to play “I’m Feeling Lucky” and it whisked us into Spotify and started playing “Let’s Talk About Sex” by Salt ‘n Pepa. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before but had the potential to be embarrassing given the right circumstances. Most other times, it launched the Lucky Trivia game as intended.

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Just a few of the things JBL LINK VIEW can do for you.

Where the smart display really shines is in the kitchen when cooking. Simply ask Google Assistant for a recipe, for example Chocolate Chip Cookies, and it will bring up some suggestions. Once you select one, it will then proceed to guide you through the cooking process. Once it comes time to cook, you can also easily set a timer and the smart display will alert you after the time you had set.

Asking the LINK VIEW about the weather, play videos or music, set timers, set alarms, check the news, make a video call, make a phone call, manage your calendar, or even control compatible smart home devices, worked rather well. Almost anything you can ask your Google Assistant on your smartphone or Google Home device can be asked here, often with a more visual response in conjunction with the auditory one.

One thing that the JBL LINK VIEW omits is any kind of battery. While I wouldn’t expect a huge battery, something that would at least give you an hour or two of battery life would be very useful. When used, we kept it plugged in on a shelf but when cooking in the kitchen, we’d have to unplug it and move the entire unit to the kitchen, plug it back in and wait for it to boot up again before being able to use it. In cases like this, being able to move it temporarily to the kitchen or even the bathroom for some music listening for an hour or two on battery power would be a winning feature.

Sound Quality

As with JBL speakers we’ve reviewed in the past, the JBL LINK VIEW sounds fantastic. For normal operation, the Google Assistant and audio is crisp and clear. Toss on some music and you really notice JBL’s signature sound. Music is pretty balanced between mids, highs, and lows. if anything, it might be just a bit heavy on the bass but leaning towards that end of the spectrum is something I rather enjoy. It does get quite loud and we found that the volume set at 50% was more than adequate when using the smart display.

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Back view of the JBL LINK VIEW complete with passive radiator.

Camera

The 5MP front facing camera is used for making video calls. Unfortunately, the only app you can use to do this is Google Duo. It’s not the end of the world but you’ll have to set it up if you usually use Hangouts or some other app for video calls. 

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The privacy shade lets you disable the camera easily.

On that note, during our test calls, the camera worked well enough and the feedback on the other end while viewed on a Pixel 2 XL smartphone was that the picture was pretty clear and crisp.

Price/Value

At an MSRP of $249.99USD, the JBL LINK VIEW is a bit pricey compared to smart speakers and the likes. However, if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, it’s definitely a useful addition. As of the time of the posting of this review, the LINK VIEW is currently on sale for $199.99USD through JBL’s website and a few other places which, of course, is a much better value.

Wrap-up

The JBL LINK VIEW shows just how much more fun Google Assistant can be with a screen. While we found the most use for it in the kitchen, it sound quality makes it perfect for streaming music from Spotify, Google Play Music, or other sources.

*We were sent a sample of the JBL LINK VIEW for the purposes of this review.

JBL LINK VIEW

$249.99 USD
9.3

Design

9.5/10

Display

9.0/10

Setup/Ease of Use

10.0/10

Software

9.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Sound Quality

10.0/10

Camera

9.0/10

Price/Value

9.0/10

Nailed it

  • Sleek design
  • Clear, responsive touch screen
  • Outstanding sound
  • Generally decent performance
  • Easy setup and navigation
  • Splash-proof
  • Built-in Chromecast

Needs work

  • No battery
  • Can only use Google Duo for video calls
  • Can't cast Netflix to it
  • No EQ Settings
  • Can't change wireless network directly on the device
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