Just ahead of I/O 2018, Google has announced the arrival of the JBL Link Bar - a smart soundbar with Google Assistant built-in and support for Android TV. The soundbar does its job of audio output by plugging into a television set, but it takes it up a notch by doubling up as a smart Assistant connected speaker as well.
The JBL Link Bar comes with an Ethernet port, optical line-in port, service port, three HDMI inputs, ARC HDMI outputs, and a subwoofer pairing button. It doesn't come with a remote, so the whole operation of the soundbar is through voice. With Google Assistant integration, you can tell the soundbar to switch on the Android TV, play YouTube videos, start music on Pendora, and start a TV channel without requiring physical interaction. The soundbar also connects with smart home devices in your home and will perform commands like 'dimming the lights' and 'switching on the air-conditioner'.
The JBL Link Bar is a neat addition to your home, effectively replacing the need to have Google Home. It is expected to ship sometime in the fall as well, with the pricing to be announced sometime later.
TCL announced its own smart soundbar, called the TCL Alto Smart Soundbar, featuring the Roku voice assistant at CES this year. This will allow you to control your smart TV through the soundbar via voice commands, with the activation command, "Hey Roku". The soundbar will allow people to turn on a Roku TV, launch video content, or stream audio even when the TV is off. the TCL Alto Smart Soundbar is expected to ship in late 2018, and the price has not been announced yet.