Sonos Launch the PLAYBAR Soundbar: Review Roundup

Sonos-Playbar

Despite humble beginnings in the not-so distant past (founded in 2002), Sonos have catapulted themselves to the forefront of the AV market, becoming the byword in wireless audio technology.  The latest innovation comes in the form of a soundbar, bringing Sonos into the world of home cinema.  It has long been clear that the quality of the speakers in today’s TVs simply hasn’t kept pace with the significant enhancements made to picture quality and screen size.  There are plenty of solutions out there for those of us who have decided that it’s about time the noise matches the picture, but, having helped to revolutionise home HiFi, Sonos have decided to apply their own considerable expertise to the Home Cinema experience.

Sonos seem to think they have hit the nail on the head with their latest offering and they aren’t shy about telling us exactly that, with Sonos Inc CEO, John MacFarlane, saying “Playbar will change everything about the sound experience in your living room, bringing together amazing HiFi sound for your TV and wireless access to the world’s music in a radically simple way”. But do the experts agree that the Sonos Playbar is about to revolutionise the AV experience in your home?

What HiFi: It’s great for sports, opting for a more immersive sound.

The big question, of course, is how the Sonos Playbar sounds, so we kick off (excuse the pun) with a spot of Premier League football. Within just a couple of seconds it’s clear that this is a massive improvement over even the most impressive-sounding flatscreen TV. The width of the soundstage that’s created is mighty impressive, and there’s detail, weight and tonal balance that a TV on its own simply can’t deliver.

SlashGear: A smart piece of tech with nifty features; there is no remote, but that need not be an issue.

Sonos has fitted the PLAYBAR with an accelerometer so that it knows which way up it’s placed: that means it can automatically figure out if it’s on the wall – with the “top” facing out – or sitting flat, and adjust the equaliser settings automatically. There’s also a pass-through IR system, which repeats your TV remote’s commands in case the TV’s own IR receiver is blocked in some way.

T3: It sounds good, but the addition of a Sub is almost essential.

Add the Sonos SUB to create a ‘3.1’ system and things change. Having that dedicated bass channel allows the PLAYBAR unit to concentrate on higher frequencies, thus creating a more balanced sound. Like us, you’ll have to play around with the SUB settings, as having it too loud can be overkill.

Wired: It beats the competition for looks

Stocked with an impressive nine drivers, the compact, low-profile Playbar employs rounded corners and silver accents to earn more style points than most sound bars, which tend to be black, boxy, and décor-damaging. At just 3.3 inches tall, it can sit in front of your TV without blocking the IR or the screen itself.

Gizmondo: It’s expensive, but for those with the money it will live up to expectations

The Playbar does a lovely job, but you could get something that sounds just as good with more features for less money. That said, Sonos is a luxurious, simple, and satisfying way to listen to music. If you can afford it in the first place, you won’t be disappointed.

All in all, the consensus is that the Playbar is an attractive and well featured piece of kit. All of the usual Sonos features are included and it makes a great addition to an existing Sonos system. However, the Playbar is not cheap and to really get the best from it the cost skyrockets further as you add the all-important Sub. If style and substance are your primary concerns the Playbar is well worth considering, but if your credit card bill is of more importance, perhaps it is worth seeking a cheaper alternative.

PLAYBAR will retail for £599 and will be available for purchase at Sonos.com, and other retail partners around the world. For more information on SONOS PLAYBAR, including technical specifications and more, please visit Sonos.com/playbar.

Home Automation Future and Present: WiFi Lightbulbs, Speakers and Doorlocks

Philips-Hue

Are you ready for robotic lawnmowers, rechargeable cars and intelligent fridges? Well, we’re not quite there yet. But our homes are a lot smarter than they’ve ever been before, and with the rise of home automation systems they’re only going to get smarter.

An automated home is all about saving your time; It’s about the energy savings you will see by regulating the operation of lights, water, heating and security; it’s about peace of mind of being able to lock the door from anywhere in the world; it’s about being able to have your favourite radio station and the lights turned on before you even reach the door. Basically, the benefits of an automated home are only limited by your imagination, and how deep your pockets are.

Sonos-Family

As you’d probably expect a fully automated home automation system, where all the functionality of home is completely unified into one system isn’t cheap. But the doesn’t mean us mere mortals can’t get pimp our homes with cheaper off-the-shelf technology.

Here’s a quick run-down of some clever home automated tech that we’ve come across over the last few months, there’s everything from clever lights to intelligent audio systems and even a futuristic door bell.

Doorbot

DoorBot is a doorbell with a difference; it connects to your home Wi-Fi and has an in-built camera. The doorbell also has speakers built in, so you can answer the call and speak to the person at the door, meaning that you can tell a courier to deliver a parcel round the back or a friend to come and join you in the back garden.
The system runs on a simple app that you can log into on a smartphone or tablet, with iPhone, iPad and Android compatibility.

The doorbell itself can be connected to your Wi-Fi network so it can communicate with your smartphone or tablet, and it will last for a year from a set of 4 AA batteries.

One awesome feature is compatibility with Lockitron. For those unfamiliar, Lockitron is a smart door lock that can be fitted to any door in your house, allowing you to remotely unlock it using a smartphone. With the DoorBot app you can tap a Lockitron button – if you have such a system built in to your home – after receiving the video call from somebody at your door, and remotely unlock it for them.

Find out more at Doorbot

Philips Hue: LED Wi-Fi Light Bulbs

Philip’s new LED Wi-Fi light bulbs could be the end of the lightswitch – and could herald the start of having to hunt for your mobile every time you want to switch the lights on.

Their new Wi-Fi LED Hue bulbs plug straight into a normal screw light socket, then there’s a control box that plugs into your broadband connection. The bulbs can then be controlled via a simple iPhone or iPad app, where you can choose the colours, program scenes, and fully automate your lighting all from within the app.

The app for Philips’ hue also features expert LightRecipes the firm claims can improve people’s lives, with four pre-programmed lighting settings based on Philips’ research around the biological effects that lighting has on the body.

These scenarios adjust bulbs to the optimum shade and brightness of white light to help you relax, read, concentrate or energise.

The firm is also developed advanced software for the system using a phone’s GPS sensors to automatically turn on the lights as you approaches your home, and turn them off again when you leave.

Find out more at Meet Hue

Sonos Multi-Room Music System

Sonos is one the world’s leading manufacturers of low-cost multi-room home audio. With either their PLAY:3 or PLAY:5 system you can daisy chain multiple speakers across your home and enjoy all your music streamed wirelessly from your computer, or from a plethora of radio stations and streaming services like Spotify and Deezer.

Once the speakers are in place, you can control them all from a simple PC desktop or Mac application. There’s also the option to use their free controller app on an iOS or Android devices – or, alternatively, Sonos offers their own touchscreen controller.

It really is as simple as that. Sonos also offers a range of accessories to take your Sonos system to the next level, including a new Soundbar for TVs, and a new sub for true audiophiles.

Find out more at Sonos