Feature parity is a huge point of contention in Android, and now in Google Assistant speakers too. Whenever Google announces a new ability for its Home line-up, you can toss a coin and it's pretty much 50-50 whether this will work on Assistant speakers from other brands. For phone calls, the situation has been more dire. Even though Google Home users could make a voice call starting August 2017 (in the US first), those with third-party speakers didn't have that option. But things are getting better. Read More
In the Samsung-owned Harman audio empire, consisting of JBL, AKG, and others, Harman Kardon is the original brand and it still has a fairly decent reputation for making products with relative audiophile appeal. The group is no stranger to Google Assistant-equipped devices, but the Citation/Enchant range of speakers, subs, towers, and soundbars really caught our attention when it was announced last summer. This could be the versatile Sonos competitor we've been waiting for.
The range went on sale last month, and I've been able to test the cheapest speaker in the lineup, the Citation One. At $200, it's competing with the Sonos One (I wonder where it got the name from), as well as other Assistant speakers from Sony, LG, JBL, and many more. Read More
As the proliferation of AI-enabled headphones continues, Harman's JBL is adding to its collection with three headsets from the newly-announced Live series, beginning at $100. The Samsung-owned audio subsidiary also revealed several other new mid-range products at CES 2019, including a $30 portable speaker for kids that comes in colors including "Spider Red" and "Froggy Green," and the JBL Flip 5 portable speaker, which features a 4,800mAh rechargeable battery and starts at $100. Finally, Harman is showcasing an app called Personi-Fi that aims to bring personalized audio settings to any streaming device. Read More
We're here in Berlin for IFA 2018, and one of the first press conferences we attended was by Harman. The Samsung-owned company is an umbrella for several smaller brands, including JBL, AKG, and the higher-end Harman Kardon, all of which got some stage time. Google Assistant speakers, headphones, and a smart display from JBL were re-announced for different markets, but the only truly new things of interest to us came from Harmon Kardon Read More
Samsung-owned JBL and Harman Kardon have released a flood of products at this year's CES, collectively covering an extensive range of uses. From the new Google Assistant-equipped JBL Everest Bluetooth headphone line, to a literal pile of individually sport-optimized waterproof earbuds and Bluetooth speakers, all the way up to the $4,000 re-release of the 1970's JBL L100, the company has an almost comically massive lineup for the coming year. Read More
There is no shortage of Alexa-powered smart speakers at this point. Even though the first third-party Google Assistant smart speakers were the stars of IFA in Berlin this past week (at least as far as audio products go), Amazon hasn't been resting on its laurels. A few more Alexa speakers were revealed at the event, including ones from big-name companies like DTS and Harman (parent company of JBL). Read More
You have almost certainly heard the name Harman when it comes to audio products, but the company has spent the last few years getting big into automotive technology as well. That's what piqued Samsung's interest in the company, and now the Korean tech giant is putting a lot of cash on the table to become a player in connected car tech. The $8 billion deal will be Samsung's biggest acquisition to date when it closes. Read More
I've had my eye on JBL for about a year now, ever since Cameron (we miss you Cam!) reviewed the company's Xtreme and Flip 3 speakers and came away more than impressed. Cam knows his music and sound, so his recommendation stuck with me until I spotted the speakers at a local reseller and thought I'd ask the customer rep to test them. The sound quality, clarity, and volume blew me away. But my main holdout for purchasing any JBL speaker was the lack of Google Cast integration. I know the Chromecast Audio exists, but I'd rather have something with the feature built-in, to avoid more unnecessary wires. Read More
I own many different Bluetooth speakers, but there is just one that I carry daily in my backpack. That's the JBL Flip 3. It is rugged and water-resistant, surprisingly loud and crisp, and has great battery life. I paid $100 for mine a few months back, but now you can pick up a refurbished Flip 3 for a whole lot less. HarmanAudio.com has them on sale for just $69.99 ($85-$99 new on Amazon) in your choice of black, blue, or red.
If you want a little more oomph and rumble, you might also consider a refurbished JBL Xtreme, the Flip 3's muscular older brother, which Harman is selling for $209.99 ($249-$265 on Amazon). Read More
I've been on a bit of a headphone kick lately, and have tried out a number of sets from various manufacturers. The only on-ear headphones I've tried during this time, though, have been AKG's K 830 BT's, the company's only high fidelity Bluetooth headphones. Bluetooth headphones remain a relatively young technology, and have been growing steadily as more and more computers and smartphones adopt the A2DP Bluetooth audio transmission standard.
The 830 BT's are a very comfortable pair of headphones with some nicely designed (if plasticky) on-ear controls (track skip, volume, answer call, play/pause). But like all Bluetooth headphones, they suffer from diminished audio quality when compared to their corded counterparts, particularly at high volume and high frequencies. Read More