The JBL Link Portable is a mono 360° speaker with Wi-Fi or
BT streaming and OK Google. It is portable – an 8-hour battery and a charging
The JBL Link Portable is another ‘Link’ in the OK Google voice-activated
speaker chain including Link
View, Link 500 and the clever Android
smart TV Link
We put the JBL Link Portable through its paces. Spoiler
alert – it has the warm and sweet sound signature that JBL is famous for and the
charging base makes it easy to move around to the pool, patio or room to room. It
is a winner.
Colours: Black or Charcoal (other colours may be on request)
Size: 170 (h) x 88mm (round edge square) x 735g
From JBL Online, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and everywhere you see the distinctive JBL logo. Shop around
We use the words FAIUL, PASS and EXCEED against test criteria.
What is it?
It would be easy to mistake it for the superseded Link 10 or Link 20 – in fact, the specifications are similar – just upgraded for Wi-Fi 5 AC dual-band and the addition of AirPlay 2.
It is a 360° 20W mono speaker with a maximum volume of about
80dB and a claimed frequency response of 65-20kHz.
Apart from doing anything that OK Google can do it is IPX7
(waterproof to 1m for 30 minutes for around pool use but don’t take it swimming)
and can accept Wi-Fi streaming music (Spotify, YouTube or Apple Music for
example), BT, Chromecast and AirPlay 2.
It comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable and charge base – no wall
charger (which is a little disappointing as you tend to leave it on the charging
base most of the time). It needs a 5V/2A charger and will fil the battery from
0-100% in about 3.5 hours. If you do not have a spare 5V/2A charger, it will
use any new USB-C PD from 3A, but it does not speed up charging.
Setup – PASS but you must use OK Google
You simply use the Google Home app. It finds it, you allocate
it to a room and Wi-Fi network (2.4Ghz is best for a longer distance from a
router) and that is it. It is up to you to reject any prompts like voice and
calendar matching – we recommend you leave it generic so all can use it.
BUT it requires to set up through the Google Home App before
the Bluetooth or AirPlay 2 capability is available.
Wi-Fi Distance – PASS
While Wi-Fi 2.4Ghz can reach up to 90 metres line-of-sight; doors,
walls and floors cut that distance substantially.
We tested line-of-sight, and it was good to about 50 metres.
We tested at 20m away through three walls, and it was fine. But on the outside
of that 20m wall, it would not work. Using our NETGEAR Wi-Fi 6 AX12 router app (or
any Wi-Fi signal strength app), we measured signal strength. It tends to drop
out at around -75dBm or greater. So, if you want to use it around the pool or
in the yard, you may need to buy a range extender.
How does it sound? EXCEED
Remarkably good for an IPX7 speaker. Let me explain. A
waterproof speaker has a fixed air volume so it cannot pump the volume of air
needed for great bass.
This has dual passive radiators that help mid-bass. One 49mm
full-range, down-firing driver, radiates sound in 360°.
Sound quality depends a lot on what you feed it. It supports
BT codecs including SBC, HE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV, FLAC and OPUS (opensource
LDAC). Let’s not carried away – the better the bitrate (and that means you need
a strong 5Ghz Wi-Fi signal strength) the sweeter it sounds – but standard SBC
and AAC are fine.