JBL (part of the Harman group owned by Samsung) gave CES 2019 visitors new insight into this consumer sound company.
Add Google Assistant to your car
One of the more innovative products is the JBL Link Drive that adds Google Assistant to cars via a plug-in dongle to the cars 12V utility socket (cigarette lighter). It pairs with an Android or iOS phone to allow drivers to stay connected, get directions, and find information on-the-go with their voice.
Google Assistant has the highest level of voice recognition and intuitive success rates of all voice assistants, so you won’t get directed to a urinal when asking for Erina! (as happened to me recently).
JBL LINK Drive device has dual noise cancelling microphones, a 5V/2.1A USB-A charge port, Bluetooth 4.2 multipoint, and a load of smarts including a Radio Barging (mute radio when you say OK Google) and auto connect.
US price is a low $59.95, so we will see it under $100 here.
JBL and Under Armour – UA True Wireless Flash for Athletes
With an IPX7 rating, five hours fast charge battery life (25-hours with charge case) and new sound and listening technologies these are for athletes. These have two 5.8mm dynamic drivers and three Sport Flex Fit Ear Tip pairs.
Bionic Hearing, unique sound and mic technology, enables athletes to hear surroundings with two sound technologies. TalkThru lowers the music and amplifies speech at the press of a button, making it easy for quick chats with a running partner. AmbientAware allows a runner to listen to their music while amplifying background noises to can stay aware of their outdoor surrounds.
US price is $169.95 and includes a 12-month MapMyRun Premium membership, valued at $29.99. Not sure if this offer will come to Australia.
JBL Truly Wireless range – Tune 120TWS, Reflect Flow and Endurance Peak
Tune 12TWES (US$99.95) have fast charge 15min=1hr use), 4-hour battery (16 with charge case), hands-free calling, OK Google or Siri, and JBL Pure Bass.
Reflect Flow (US$149.95) is for fitness fanatics. It has IPX7, OK Google and Siri, TalkThru and Ambient Aware technology (as in UA True Wireless).
Endurance Peak (US$119.95) has all the fitness features and a PowerHook fit to keep them in whether gym, running or hiking, no matter the weather condition.
JBL PartyBox 200, 300 and 1000 speakers
Continues the tradition set by Sony ExtraBass with mood lighting, mic inputs and multi-connect.
JBL PartyBox 200 & 300 Features
- JBL Signature Sound
- Wireless Bluetooth Streaming
- Light Shows: Meter, Pulse, and Party mode
- Rechargeable Battery: Plug into a 12V DC (Car lighter) or use the built-in 10,000mAh battery for 18 hours of playtime ( PartyBox 300)
- Mic and Guitar Inputs
- USB Playback
- True Wireless Stereo & RCA: Connect compatible speakers
JBL Partybox 1000 Features (in addition to 200/300)
- 1 kilowatt (kW) of power, a 12-inch down-firing subwoofer
- Air Gesture Wristband (patent pending): allows control of lighting using hand gestures
- Full Panel Lighting: with speaker rim and strobe lighting effects
- Karaoke-Enabled: equipped with a vocal fader, key control and echo effect
- Integrated DJ Launch-Pad: DJ skills will be put to the test every night with the integrated 4×4 DJ launch pad
JBL PartyBox 200 ($349.95) and JBL PartyBox 300 ($449.95) are available for purchase now. The JBL PartyBox 1000 ($999.95) will be available in July 2019.
JBL Link Bar – sound bar with Google Assistant
Another innovative product that transforms any HDMI ARC equipped TV into an Android TV OS.
- One-piece soundbar with JBL signature sound
- Android TV built-in
- The Google Assistant built-in
- 4K video passthrough HDMI inputs: 3 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI ARC output
- Chromecast built-in
JBL LINK BAR ($399.95) and optional subwoofer ($299.95) will be available in Spring 2019. More on the innovative bar here
JBL LIVE headphones
We have spoken of JBL Signature Sound – now it is in headphones. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, as well as Ambient Aware, TalkThru and noise-cancelling technologies. Five models to choose from.
JBL Kid-friendly portable speaker – JBL JR Pop
- Bluetooth streaming.
- Durable and rugged materials
- Multi-colour lighting mode
- IPX7 waterproof
- Built-in rechargeable 5-hour Li-ion Battery
- Fun and colourful stickers included
- Detachable strap
JBL JR POP (USD: $29.95) is available now in six colour options: Aqua Teal, Iris Purple, Rose Pink, Spider Red, Cool Blue and Froggy Green.
JBL Flip 5
The newest member of Flip portable Bluetooth speaker line. Great sound, packaged in a waterproof and durable case.
- Wireless Bluetooth
- 12-hour/4800mAh, USB-C 5V/3A rechargeable battery
- IPX7 Waterproof
- Acoustic Racetrack shaped driver for crisp sound and deeper bass.
- Rubber housing and durable materials
The JBL Flip 5 (USD: $99.95) will be available in spring 2019 in 11 colour options: Desert Sand, Mustard Yellow, Dusty Pink, Grey Stone, River Teal, Fiesta Red, Ocean Blue, Midnight Black, Steel White, Forest Green, and Squad.
GadgetGuy’s take: JBL under Harman/Samsung has really taken off
It is owned by Harman International that owns brands 22 brands including AKG, AMX, Becker, Crown, Harman Kardon, Infinity, Lexicon, dbx, DigiTech, Mark Levinson, Martin, Revel, Soundcraft, Studer, Arcam, and BSS Audio.
In March 2017 Samsung bought Harman to help it develop a range of sound technologies to address different markets – automotive, consumer, professional, audiophile.
The result is that JBL is a highly consumer-focused company making portable/waterproof Bluetooth speakers (challenging Ultimate Ears territory), a range of voice-activated speakers/screens/soundbars, headphones, home audio speakers all with the typical JBL sound signature. It’s warm and sweet with a tad more bass for easy listening.
Expect to see much more from this venerable company with a new consumer focus.