Feb. 12, 2013 at 4:45 PM ET
Wireless audio giant Sonos has announced the Playbar, a compact sound bar that incorporates all the usual surround-sound speakers and integrates with the company's other wireless speakers. It could be a great solution for the tech-savvy media lover.
Sonos' speakers have always been a handy way to keep your music with you regardless of where you are in the house. They connect over Wi-Fi and are controlled via an app on your phone, so whether you're working in the garage or drifting off to sleep, you can change the song, channel or volume with a gesture.
But this is the first time they've attempted to tackle TV audio, which is a more complicated proposal. There are good sound bar systems out there already, and of course many people already have excellent multi-speaker systems installed. Why get this Sonos?
Well, it should have pretty great sound — Sonos has always been good about that — but the big draw would probably be putting the controls all on your phone or tablet. Combine the Sonos with a smart set-top box with its own app, and you've got a whole world of music, TV, and movies controllable from your iPad. And setup should be a breeze — it plugs right into your TV and you can even control it through the TV's remote.
And if you have Sonos speakers in your house already, it's a no-brainer. Integrating the powerful TV system with the rest will make your music that much more pervasive, and simplify the controls further. (By the way, Sonos owners, there's a software update out now that adds a few new features).
Of course, audio purists will maintain that separate speakers are necessary for optimum surround sound, and they're probably right. And at $699, the Playbar is significantly pricier than other sound bars from Sony, Yamaha, Philips and other well-known brands.
It should be available soon at the usual retailers and online stores. If you're interested (and feeling flush), head over to the Sonos website for more information.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.