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If you’re setting up a home theater in your living room, the default configuration would be to invest in a nice HDTV, a good amplifier, and a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system for that whole surround sound experience. However, that kind of setup might not be appropriate for everyone and that’s one of the reasons that soundbars exist. But if you could also use that soundbar to stream multimedia content wirelessly?

We had the opportunity to go hands on with the new Sonos Playbar recently and the idea here is that it almost reinvents our perception of the whole soundbar product category. For one, it’s not cheap. Whereas something like the Samsung HW-C450 can be had for about $250, the Sonos Playbar retails for $700. To be fair, though, this is a superior product. There are a total of nine speakers inside, powered by nine Class-D amplifiers. What results is actually really good sound and, surprisingly, pretty decent “fake” surround sound too. It doesn’t come with a subwoofer — that’s a separate $700 Sonos investment — but for what it is, there’s pretty decent bass too.

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Of course, this ties into the whole Sonos wireless ecosystem too. There’s an Ethernet port on the back for connecting the Playbar directly to your router or, alternatively, you can invest in a Sonos Bridge to keep that connection wireless too. There is just a single optical audio input and this is meant to connect directly to your TV. Since it’s Sonos, you can also stream your Internet radio, iTunes library, and other multimedia sources through this speaker system too. If you want true surround sound, you’ll need the Playbar, the subwoofer and a couple of Sonos Play 3 (or Play 5) speakers for the rear. All said, you’re looking at north of $2000, but you gain the advantage of being mostly wireless and the speakers tie into more than just your home theater setup.

During the product demo, we were mostly impressed by how the soundbar performed with straight music, but it did very well with the Blu-ray movie demos too. Of course, having the full setup with the sub and the rears made it that much better. I think the Sonos Playbar is a great fit for people who have already bought into the Sonos ecosystem, but because the system is so modular, it could be a good entry point for newcomers too. We’re hoping to get our hands on a review sample soon, so stay tuned (no pun intended) for that.

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