When the Google Dwelling Max debuted in 2017, we requested Google if the sensible speaker could be appropriate with TVs as a soundbar. The reply was no, however the firm is lastly inserting some emphasis on Google Assistant-powered soundbars. The primary product on this class is JBL’s Hyperlink Bar. It’s an Android TV streaming field, soundbar, and sensible speaker multi function. Although it debuted in 2018, it’s solely now — as of July 11, 2019 — out there for buy, for $400. We’ll hopefully get our fingers on a evaluation mannequin quickly, however within the meantime, right here’s what we discovered after spending a while checking it out at Google I/O 2018.
Soundbars are slim and don’t take a lot house, and so they’re a comparatively inexpensive approach of enhancing the audio capabilities of your TV. The JBL Hyperlink Bar appears to be like like every other soundbar: It’s smooth and its presence is delicate, with bodily controls for quantity on the highest, together with a mute swap. What makes it completely different is that it not solely has Google Assistant smarts, however it’s additionally powered by Android TV.
In a nutshell, which means not solely can the soundbar do all the things a Google Dwelling speaker can do, however it may well drive your TV as nicely. That will be spectacular by itself, however Google Assistant, which was added to Android TV final 12 months, takes issues to a complete new degree.
Utilizing the acquainted phrase “Hey, Google,” you’ll be able to seek for films and TV reveals, or pull up movies on YouTube. You may management sensible gentle bulbs, play music, or ask for the climate, and the very best half is that you simply don’t want to show your TV on to make use of the Hyperlink Bar. If the TV is off, the Hyperlink Bar will solely flip the show on when it detects a visible element to your question. For instance, in case you ask it to play your favourite TV present, the TV will routinely activate. In case you’re merely asking it in regards to the climate, the TV will keep off.
The Hyperlink Bar has two far-field microphones that may choose up your voice simply.
If you name for Assistant when the TV is on, it solely takes up a small portion of the underside of the display screen. Like with Google Assistant on Android TV, you’ll be able to management your whole navigational expertise. What blew us away, nonetheless, was switching between TV inputs with simply our voice. If in case you have a number of units linked to your TV’s HDMI ports — like a Nintendo Change, a DVD participant, or a PlayStation four — you’ll be able to simply inform the Assistant to “Change to PlayStation,” and that’s it — time to sport.
Dan Baker/Digital Traits
In observe throughout our brief demo, all of it labored comparatively nicely. The Hyperlink Bar has two far-field microphones that may choose up your voice simply, even whereas blasting sound.
So how does it sound? Not too nice, however we solely had the possibility to take heed to it very briefly. Whereas it simply received extremely loud, the Hyperlink Bar lacked bass, so music sounded extremely flat. We’re hoping for enhancements to audio high quality within the last model of the Hyperlink Bar.
The nice factor is you’ll be able to count on to see extra soundbars just like the Hyperlink Bar towards the tip of the 12 months. Google stated JBL’s machine is simply the primary in a deliberate sequence of hybrid units powered by Android TV and Google Assistant. The tech is sound, and the interface is intuitive. We will’t wait to see different third-party producers growing these soundbars.
Within the meantime, in case you’re searching for a soundbar will much less built-in smarts, check out our checklist of the very best soundbars you should purchase.
Up to date on July 11, 2019: Up to date with buy info.