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JBL’s soundbar with built-in Android TV keeps getting delayed

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Maybe JBL got a little overambitious with this one

Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

After missing its initial planned release timeframe, the $400 JBL Link Bar has been delayed yet again and is now scheduled to launch sometime in the summer — assuming the plan actually sticks this time. The product was first announced at Google I/O last May as a unique hybrid soundbar/streaming device running Google’s Android TV software. JBL initially hoped to get it out by late summer. Then that turned into the fall / October. And when that didn’t pan out either, the shipping target slipped to spring. Even before spring rolls around, JBL seems to have already realized it’s going to miss that window too.

So now we’re looking at summer — meaning after Google’s next I/O keynote. More specifically, it’s “mid-to-late summer” according to a statement obtained by Android Police. The Link Bar still hasn’t lost its one-of-a-kind luster, but perhaps that’s part of the problem JBL is having. Getting this thing to a finished, consumer-ready state sure seems to be taking a long time.

Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

The Link Bar advertises deep Google Assistant integration: Assistant is supposed to be accessible via an on-screen overlay on any of the speaker’s three HDMI inputs even when using another device. During a demo back in May, we saw a calendar app running overtop a game console.

This product has a ton going on:

  1. It’s a soundbar.
  2. It’s a smart speaker with far-field microphones.
  3. It’s an Android TV set-top box.
  4. It’s got Google Assistant running on top of every HDMI connection.
Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

The $400 price tag makes a bit more sense when you factor all that functionality in. JBL previously said a subwoofer would be made available for $300. But maybe JBL has the company has overengineered itself into a corner if the Link Bar keeps getting punted like this.

I hope it eventually ships, as the underlying idea is still very cool if you just want to buy a do-everything TV accessory.