Sunday, November 26, 2017

JBL Link 20 Voice-Activated Portable Speaker Review

JBL makes some excellent products.  In the past, we have had the opportunity to review their portable Charge series of speakers.  So when given the chance to review their new Link series, we naturally jumped at the opportunity.  Today we are reviewing their JBL Link 20.  It's a great portable wireless speaker with Google Home built-in, and is also IPX7 level waterproof rated.

Features and specs:

General Specifications

Transducer2 x 50mm
Output power2 x 10W
Frequency response65Hz–20kHz
Signal-to-noise ratio>80dB
Wireless network802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
Bluetooth version4.2
Supported audio formatsHE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC, Opus
Dimensions (Dia x H)93mm x 210mm
Weight950 g


Battery typeLithium-ion Polymer (3.7V, 6000mAh)
Battery charge time4.5 hours @5V 2.3A
Music play timeup to 10 hours (varies by volume level and content)

Battery 1

Battery typeLithium-ion Polymer (3.7V, 6000mAh)
Battery charge time4.5 hours @5V 2.3A
Music play timeup to 10 hours (varies by volume level and content)


The JBL Link 20 came in a nice looking color printed box, with photos of the speaker and it's specs printed on the box.  Opening the box revealed a well protected speaker set in custom plastic molding.  Also included was the quick start guide, and wall charger and cord.  The JBL Link 20 is mostly plastic with some rubber and covered in a cloth mesh.  Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish.  The build quality is very good, as we have come to expect from JBL. 

I was very excited to test the JBL Link 20.  I had some high expectations, and was hoping the Google Home was integrated very well.  The Link 20 came mostly charged, and after plugging it in, I got it fully charged.  There are 4 LED's above the power button that blink as the Link 20 charges and tells you the level of charge.  The power button lights up, as well as a mic button directly under the power button.  Just press the mic button to mute the mic.  On the front of the JBL Link 20 is a wi-fi image that lights up when it's connected to a wi-fi network.  And on the top are a series of 4 white LED light that light up in motion when Google is listening for your request.

Setting up the JBL Link 20 was very easy.  Once it was fully charged, I downloaded the app on my HTC One M9 smartphone.  The app was very simple to follow, and walked me thru setting up the JBL Link onto my home network, and getting it to recognize my voice.  In less than 5 minutes I was up and running.  Although for whatever reason, I had to first turn off the Link 20 and restart it for Google to start working. 

Now it was time to put Google Home to the test.  I asked a couple of the sample questions provided, like what is the temperature outside.  And do I need an umbrella.  These questions had no problems with a response.  Then I started asking many other questions.  When asked what to do for a headache, I was told a cold towel on my neck or soaking my feet in hot water can help, and cited the source and reasoning for why it would help.  I was impressed.  There were a couple times when I did get a response of something along the lines of...I do not know the answer to that question, but I am continually learning.  For listening to music, it does help to have a Google Play Music account for better music selection.  There was also one time that my music was interrupted by some notification, but I wasn't sure what it was doing until I remembered I asked google to set an alarm for me. Lol.

And that leads us to the music test.  When asked to play some soft jazz, Google obliged.  Cymbals were crisp and clean.  Piano sounded natural.  Drums had good impact and depth of midbass.  Sax was nice and smooth with good air.  Vocals also had good resolution and texture.  Bass had good depth and output for a device it's size, and was just a tad muddy.  Mids were smooth without being too warm.  Treble was also crisp without being bright.  For it's size, the JBL Link not only played very well with better than expected sound, it also played really loud for it's size, and can fill most rooms in a house with sufficient sound. 

They also performed well with Bluetooth performance.  Getting the JBL Link 20 to pair to my HTC One M9 was very quick and easy.  And the connection was very good. Having a 3 story location, I was able to go all over the main and 3rd floor with the Link 20 being on the 2nd floor.  But having the Link 20 on the 3rd floor, signal was dropped once I reached the main floor.  I guess the signal did not like going thru 2 thick floors.  Going thru multiple walls on the same floor or a floor above or below however was not a problem.  So the Bluetooth performance was quite good.

The JBL Link 20 entered the ring with high expectations, having reviewed multiple of their wireless speakers before.  And the JBL Link 20 did not disappoint.  From a speaker standpoint, they performed very well! Vocals sounded very natural with good texture, mids were smooth with good resolution and nice harmonics.  Bass was sufficiently deep with good authority for it's size and the highs were crisp with lots of detail. Any music genre I played sounded good on the JBL Link 20.  And the Google Home performed very well.  So well infact that it was able to hear me in the other room!  Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the JBL Link 20 has earned our Highly Recommended award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Monday, November 20, 2017

2017 Annual Holiday Gadget Gift Guide

Thanksgiving is almost here, which means it must be time for our annual Holiday Gadget Gift Guide. So if you are looking for some gift ideas, hopefully we can help. This year we tried to include some focus on smart home products. And they are from some great manufacturers. They are Elite Screens Yard Master 2 Dual, JBL Link 200, JBL Link 300, Kingston DataTraveler Bolt Duo 64GB, Next Book Flexx11A, Royale Moon, and Sound Blaster KatanaX.

The Elite Screens Yard Master 2 Dual is an outdoor screen. If you like to entertain, and this includes watching movies outdoors, an outdoor screen like Elite Screen’s Yard Master 2 Dual is a must have. The Screen is portable, and easy to assemble. You can also use a 2-Way screen material for more viewing options.  MSRP for the 120" 16:9 screen is $454.  Review is re-scheduled for the week ending 12/17/17.

The JBL Link 200 is a wireless speaker system that is also a Google Home product. It’s small and portable. Being water resistant also gives more usage options. So while it’s perfectly home in your home, the JBL Link 200 can also be used poolside, or anywhere else outdoors.  MSRP is $199.95. Review is scheduled for week ending 11/26/17. 

When it comes to memory for your electronic devices, Kingston has you covered.  It started for them with computer RAM memory sticks.  And while they still provide those memory sticks, not they also provide storage for all of your other electronic devices, such as SD cards for digital camera's and camcorders, and microSD cards for smart phones.  They also have flash drives for your computers and smart phones.  Now they have extended this to your iPhone with their new DataTraveler Bolt Duo to store all your phone's photos and videos.  MSRP is $89.99 for the 64GB model.  Review is scheduled for week ending 12/17/17. 

Next is the JBL Link 300. A member of the JBL Link family, it is a Google Home device. So, if you are looking for the weather, or for a show time, just ask the JBL Link 300, and Google will answer. The JBL Link 300 is not water resistant, so it’s home is in the home. The JBL Link 300 is part of the JBL Link family, so it can be linked to any of the other Link products. Link several together and you have a whole home system.  MSRP is $249.95.  Review is scheduled for week ending 12/3/17.

If you are looking for a tablet, Nextbook gives you bang for the buck. Especially the Nextbook Flexx11A. It’s a 2 in 1 tablet with a detachable keyboard. So you can use it with or without a keyboard.  MSRP is $229.  Review is scheduled for week ending 12/10/17.

It’s time now for the Royale Moon. The Royale Moon 3D Mobile Theater is a portable theater with the dual 1080p displays and headphones, you can enjoy your movies and gaming anywhere. Thanks to the foldable design, they are easily portable.  MSRP is $799.99. Review is scheduled for week ending 12/10/17.

Last but not least is the Sound Blaster KatanaX. The Sound Blaster KatanaX is a high quality soundbar with a separate subwoofer. With its multiple inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, the KatanaX provides a lot of options to give you great sound. And I love the LED light show they provide to enhance the gaming experience.  MSRP is $299.99.  The review can be found here:

This year’s gift guide has provided some great products. Don’t forget to check back in for the full reviews for any of the products you may be interested in. And hopefully these will give you some gift ideas. Any of these products would make for a great holiday gift.  Thank you for reading, and Happy Holidays from our family to yours.

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