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JBL Link 20: A waterproof speaker with Google Smarts!

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It was only a question of time after Amazon launched Alexa by enabling third-party speaker manufacturers to use the virtual assistant in various models that Google offered Google Assistant the same flexibility. A JBL Link 20 is one of these speakers, and it has a feature that no other Google speaker does: a battery.

You set the JBL Link 20 to see how it compares to other smart speakers and whether it supports all of Google Assistant’s features.

Price and availability

JBL Link 20: Price and availability

A JBL Link 20 is several years old already, which makes it more difficult to find than before. But don’t worry: you can get it for $130 from Verizon.

If it sells out, you can try Musician’s Friend, where the JBL Link 20 is listed for $230. Both of these sites are for the black models; finding a credible vendor for the white model is even more difficult.

Design

A cylindrical 8.3 x 3.7-inch JBL Link 20 resembles a somewhat larger Charge 3 and maintains the JBL portable speaker design style. The Google Home is both taller and slimmer than this device. The Link 20 is only available in black and is covered in a strong mesh fabric with black plastic here on the ends.

The speaker has few controls, which is reasonable given that Google Assistant may assist with most tasks. The play/pause & volume buttons, and a Bluetooth pairing button, are all located on the top of the device.

JBL Link 20

Also, there is a physical Google Assistant button, as well as two microphones. 4 LEDs on the front pulse when Google Assistant activates, indicating that it is listening. When the speaker link to a network, a Wi-Fi indicator appears on the front bottom.

The power button, an battery life indicator, and a microphone mute button are all located on the back. The micro-USB port for power & charging the battery is hidden beneath a flap towards the bottom, which helps to keep it waterproof. The Link 20 does not have an auxiliary input, unlike most JBL speakers.

Waterproof

Waterproof

The Link 20 has an IPX7 rating, which means it can completely submerge for up to 30 minutes without harming it, making it the finest Bluetooth speaker featuring smarts that can withstand the elements.

It continued to play after you submerged it in a sink full of water for 5 minutes.

JBL Link 20: Google Assistant

Google Assistant here on Link 20 is just as responsive as on Google Home, so it handled practically all of the same chores. It streamed music from Spotify, activated my WeMo, and cast Stranger Things to my TV through Chromecast.

When paired with the Google Home speaker via the Google Home app, it also provided multiroom sound. The Link 20, on the other hand, was unable to make calls.

Sound Quality

Sound Quality

The JBL Link 20 has well-balanced treble, bass, and mid-tones when playing music. That’s not the same sound profile as Google Home, which has a highly bass-heavy tone. The sound quality of the Link 20 is comparable to or better than that of reasonably priced Bluetooth speakers, like the $200 UE Boom.

The bass thudded on St. Vincent’s “Los Ageless,” Annie Clark’s vocals were rich, and the distorted guitars showed terrific detail. The unit generated a considerably deeper sound than the UE Boom when listening to Dhani Harrison’s “All About Waiting.” When you played the song on Google Home, it had more bass, but if preferred the overall tone balance on the Link 20.

The Link 20 was also capable of playing acoustic music. On Cannonball Adderley’s “Autumn Leaves,” the horns were bright, and the bass was warm. On Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again,” Lindsey Buckingham’s finger-picked guitar was sharp.

The speaker is capable of producing enough volume to fill most spaces. It attained a maximum loudness of 90 decibels without distorting the music.

Wireless and Setup

JBL Link 20: Wireless and Setup

Use a Google Home app to complete the setup. The app guides users through the process of connecting the speaker to your Wi-Fi network and adding it to your devices. The whole thing went quite smoothly. You can also use Bluetooth to connect to the speaker, which is useful if you just want to listen to music streaming services that aren’t enabled by Google Assistant, like Apple Music.

You can also connect the Link 20 to additional Google Home speakers in your network via the Google Home app to enable multi-room listening. The Google Home app, on the other hand, doesn’t let you modify the sound’s bass or treble settings.

Battery

The main advantage of the JBL Link 20 speaker over Google Home is its flexibility. It comes with a 10-hour battery, and it could last at least that long before needing to recharge.

Keep in mind that because Google Assistant is constantly on, it does not turn off when you aren’t using it, and as such, the battery will continue to drain until you turn it off. And because Google Assistant only works while you link to Wi-Fi. You won’t be able to use it while you’re out somewhere.

Conclusion

In practically every manner, the JBL Link 20 beats the Google Home. It has a better sound and is more portable and robust. While using Google Assistant, it responds to commands and only has one limitation: it cannot make phone calls. The Link 20’s advantages come at a price: it’s $70 more so than Google’s speaker. The extra money is probably not worth it if everything you need is a smart speaker to give you the weather. The Link 20 — or its smaller, less costly sibling, the $149 Link 10 — is a good pick if the sound is important to you and you plan on taking the speaker out and about.

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