JBL is a speaker manufacturer best known for its Bluetooth speakers. But headphones, speakers for the home and gaming headsets are also part of the range. Recently, the popular speaker manufacturer has also entered the field of smart speakers. We had the opportunity to test the “JBL Link Portable”. Today we will clarify what the loudspeaker can do and whether it is worth buying it.
Scope of delivery, price and variants
The JBL Link Portable comes with a charging cable (USB-C), a quick start guide, a charging station for wireless charging and the smart speaker . Unfortunately, you won’t find a power plug.
JBL offers the smart speaker in many different colors such as brown, black, gray or blue . There are also the two exclusive colors straw (golden yellow) and green , these are only available online. The JBL Link Portable is available on the Internet for around €150 .
The 735 g speaker is covered with (in our case) black fabric. This substance is already known from Google speakers, such as the Google Home Mini .
There is a small JBL logo on the front of the speaker. A small LED lights up under this logo when there is a connection to the WLAN. Otherwise there are four LEDs in the upper area of the front. These visualize the volume and the Google Assistant.
The top of the speaker is softly rubberized and in the middle is the Google Assistant button, which is also the play/pause button. To the left and right are the volume control buttons. There are also two small holes on the top where the microphones are installed.
The underside is also rubberized and has a hole in the middle for the contacts for wireless charging.
There is a small rubber element on the back. On this rubber element is the “on/off button”, the “microphone button”, which is responsible for deactivating the microphone, and the “Bluetooth button”, with which Bluetooth can be switched on and off.
A USB port and a battery status bar can also be found on the rubber element.
What’s in the JBL Link Portable?
A lot of technology is hidden behind the shell of the 17 cm high speaker. The JBL Link Portable is a smart speaker, which is why a WLAN module is installed. This is essential for the integrated Google Assistant, which enables music control by voice. A Chromecast for multi-room music playback is also installed.
To offer optimal music enjoyment, the Chromecast streams the music in HD audio quality (24 bit / 96 K). But Apple users have also been considered, which is why Apple AirPlay 2 is also on board.
A Bluetooth module is installed so that the jukebox can also be used outside of the four walls.
In addition to the many functions, the smart speaker is also equipped with a 360 degree function, which means that the music is played in all directions. The 4,800 mAh battery provides 8 hours of music enjoyment and can be fully recharged in 2.5 hours at 5 V, 3 A using the charging station provided.
The charging station of the JBL Link Portable
Simple, wireless charging is possible thanks to the two small contacts on the charging station. All that needs to be done: place the speaker on it. Thanks to the small indentation, the loudspeaker always sits perfectly in the shell and is always charged without any problems.
The top of the charging station is made of a sturdy-looking plastic. The underside is slightly rubberized, which prevents slipping.
There is also a hole on the bottom with a small channel to connect the charging cable to the USB-C port.
All technical data at a glance
|Waterproof||Yes (IPX7 water protection)|
|battery life||Up to 8 hours|
|Chromecast (Multiroom)||Yes (in HD quality)|
|Apple Airplay 2||Yes|
|WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS||802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)|
The sound of the JBL Link Portable
As you are used to from JBL devices, the sound is at a very high level. Thanks to the 360° sound, good sound is guaranteed from every position in the room. We find the highs and mids to be very balanced, which creates a pleasant sound experience. The JBL Link Portable shows its full potential, especially with bass-heavy songs.
Even at the maximum volume, the music is played without sound distortions or the like. Overall, we would rate the sound as balanced and pleasant. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the sound is always a matter of taste.
How do I set up the JBL Link Portable?
If the JBL Link Portable is only to be used as a Bluetooth box, no setup is necessary. All you have to do is turn on the speaker, activate Bluetooth and connect to the device.
But the speaker is actually too good for “only” the Bluetooth function.
Setting up the “smart” speaker is very simple. First you need to turn on the JBL Link Portable. Now you have to download the associated app. Unlike normal JBL speakers, this smart speaker is not connected to the JBL Connect app, but to the Google Home app. These are not only available for Android , but also for Apple .
If you are already using the Google Home app, you can simply integrate the speaker under “Add device”.
However, if you download the app first, you have to follow the small app guide until the app is functional. You must then also integrate the JBL Link Portable under the “Add device” item.
After you have added the speaker, you can control it in the Google Home overview. You can also stream music directly to the speaker via Spotify or Apple Music.
JBL Link Portable in everyday life
In the course of our test, we learned to love the speaker. It has never been so easy to comfortably take music to any room. It doesn’t matter whether you have it on the charging station or take it with you into the bathroom, for example, the smart speaker has enough “boom” to fill both small and large rooms with sound. The internet connection was always constant and there were never any interruptions. The Google Assistant responds well, but not nearly as well as the one in the Google speakers. This is probably due to the fact that the boxes from Google are equipped with several microphones.
We particularly like the fact that the smart speaker is waterproof, so you can take it with you without worrying.
Since the box is also suitable for taking away, we also used it outdoors. The connection via Bluetooth works without any problems. We can confirm the battery life of 8 hours.
Charging the JBL Link Portable using the charging station always worked flawlessly in our test. Likewise, the multi-room function did not cause any problems and worked perfectly.
There are almost no negative aspects to mention about this smart speaker. Some might consider the price of around €150 too high. However, we believe that €150 is a very fair price, especially in relation to the large variety of functions. We noticed the high functionality in a particularly positive way. All in all, it can be said that the JBL Link Portable is an all-rounder and actually meets every requirement. In our opinion, the purchase is definitely worthwhile.