The JBL Link 10 features the company’s iconic cloth housing and cylindrical design. The Link 10 only comes in two colors: black and white, which JBL probably limited the speaker to so that it doesn’t look out of place in the home.
Since the main draw of the JBL Link 10 is its Google Assistant support, let’s go over how that first. In terms of voice recognition, the Link 10 is decent but it’ll have trouble hearing your voice over loud music. There’s no fancy noise cancellation like you get with the Apple HomePod, but this shouldn’t be surprising considering the price and form factor. If you’re listening to music at soft to moderate volumes, it’ll hear your voice commands just fine.
One thing that irked us was just how long the speaker took to boot up. It takes an average of about 20 to 30 seconds for the speaker to fire up and for us to start playing our tunes. Contrast this to Bluetooth speakers which fire up instantaneously and it’s a frustrating experience on the go.
In terms of sound quality, the JBL Link 10 gets impressively loud, though there is some distortion at the upper end of the volume range. Tonally, the JBL Link 10 features a warm sound signature with your typical mid-bass bump. For the size, the Link 10 produces a good amount of bass but can’t compare to its bigger siblings like the Link 20 and Pulse 3. Highs have good extension but not very much detail.
While you can certainly use your voice to control playback, you’ll find physical controls along the top for volume, Bluetooth pairing, a multimedia playback button, and a dedicated button to activate Google Assistant if you don’t want to say, “Hey, Google.”
Around the back you’ll find buttons for power and mute for the mic when you want some privacy, alongside a rubber door on the bottom to access the microUSB port which you'll use to charge the Link 10 in between sessions.
On front of the speaker are four LED lights that pulse when Google Assistant is listening for a command. There’s also a LED wifi signal to let you know when the speaker is connected to your home network. The Bluetooth symbol on top will light up when it’s connected to your smartphone as well.
The JBL Link 10 is IPX7 rated, which means you can fully submerge the speaker in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This is great peace of mind when you take the Link 10 outdoors to the beach or to a pool party. Bringing the speaker away from your Wi-Fi network will mean that you can't invoke Google Assistant by shouting "Hey, Google" but you can still use your phone's built-in assistant with a long press of the Play button as long as it's still paired via Bluetooth.