JBL announced a couple of speakers at consumer electronics show IFA, including the Pulse 4 and two new Link speakers. 

Here we're looking at the Link Portable, which not only offers built-in Google Assistant but it has an IPX7 waterproof housing and plenty of connectivity. These are our first impressions. 

Design

  • IPX7 water and dust resistance
  • Portable size 
  • GA button for mic control 

The JBL Link Portable has a cylindrical design with a material protective cover and the result is a lovely, neat speaker that's a great size for portability - perhaps unsurprising given its name.

Pocket-lintJBL Link Portable initial review Connected and compact image 8

At the top, there's a plastic disc which houses the volume controls and a dedicated Google Assistant button in the centre for turning the microphones on or off.

Move towards the bottom and the Link Portable has a smooth silicone base that slots onto the plastic charging dock (when charging). The charging dock blends nicely into the overall design but you don't have to use it as there is USB Type-C available too.

Pocket-lintJBL Link Portable initial review Connected and compact image 9

A small JBL logo is positioned on the front of the material cover towards the bottom of the Link Portable, while the rear has a small panel that features a Bluetooth indicator, and a microphone off indicator. The USB Type-C charging port we mentioned sits below the power button on the same plastic panel.

Features

  • Built-in GA
  • AirPlay 2, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Chromecast support 

The JBL Link Portable comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as support for Apple's AirPlay 2, making it a pretty connected little speaker.

There's also Chromecast support in the JBL Link Portable, allowing the speaker to integrate with compatible streaming apps like Spotify, as well as with other Chromecast-supported speakers for multi-room music playback. 

Pocket-lintJBL Link Portable initial review Connected and compact image 7

With Google Assistant on board, you'll be able to not only ask Google on the Link Portable what the weather is like, or what events you have coming up, but you'll also be able to use the link to control compatible smart home devices, such as a Nest camera or Ikea smart lights, for example.

When Google is listening to your commands, four LED lights will appear on the front of the JBL Link Portable - just like they do on Google's own Home Mini and Home Max speakers.  

Performance

  • 360-degree JBL Signature Sound
  • 8-hour battery life

The JBL Link Portable has an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning it is suitable for taking outside, as well as into the bathroom or anywhere there is water. You won't want to submerge it in water but if it gets splashed, it should be able to handle it.

Pocket-lintJBL Link Portable initial review Connected and compact image 10

In terms of audio, it offers JBL's 360-degree Signature Sound with dedicated passive radiators. We didn't get a chance to listen to the JBL Link Portable properly during our short amount of time with it but from what we heard, it's a decent sounding speaker for its size. We will be sure to test the performance properly when we come to review the device though.

In terms of battery, JBL says the Link Portable will offer eight hours before it needs to go back on its dock. As with sound performance, we'll be sure to test the battery in our full review.  

First Impressions

The JBL Link Portable is a lovely, compact speaker that's a perfect size for delivering decent sound (from what we have heard so far), whilst also remaining portable. 

The material covering gives it a soft design appeal - like Google's Home speakers - while the charging dock blends nicely into the overall look. 

There's plenty of features too, including Google Assistant, along with AirPlay 2, Chromecast support and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.