The official Australian dealer release for this product was this evening for Carlton Audio Visual. A delightfully low key and geek style presentation for a hallmark product. If this had been a tier one brand they would have rolled out the free drinks and canapes and inflicted us with merciless powerpoint presentations.

I hate consumer electronic powerpoint presentations with a fervour, mostly manufacturers know not to invite me to them as I will have tendancy to be either acoustically disruptive or possibly unconscious in short order. Or even worse noisily and conspicuously photograph every frame so that I can actually do something useful with the information portrayed like show the important bits to my colleagues.

The tier one brands often seem to think that the intellectual copyright of their orderly microsoft style presentations is really precious ... when in fact if its a Pioneer or Bose then its really about trying to get people who are possibly functionally illiterate beyond their commission percentage to remember this weeks PMPO rating for a surround receiver while reducing their forebrains even further with free alcohol and colourful ties to overlay the nervous presenters three piece saville row uniforms.

Thankfully the Sonos chaps did none of this with the Playbar release. Small Hotel room, jeans and shirt, concise product show and tell with a bottle of water and Jaffas being the only distractions.

Physically the Playbar is a 900 mm wide slim black bar with silver trims that is an immediate aesthetic match for contemporary TV panels. the raw device consists of nine drive units at a 45 degree angle aranged in theree groups of double woofer and tweeter. When setting it up it rather cleverly senses its attitude and will nominate left and right channels accordingly wether it is above or below the screen.

The Playbar connects to the TV via a single fibre optic cable ... at a stroke ommitting the myriad pitfalls of attempting any type of HDMI connection and acknowledging that 95 per cent of televisions sold in the last five years have a fibre optic output.

As part of its exceptional simplicity of operation the Playbar has auto on sensing, ie: when you turn the TV on it will turn on, and it has IR pass through to enable control of other components in a cabinet and such.

You can set it up so that if there are other Sonos components around the house the TV sound can be retransmitted to them as well, useful no doubt for the typical Australian Football viewer and staggerer about the houser after a few too many Carltons ...

The first piece that was played was on this initial demonstration was the much overused demo from House of FlyingDaggers wherein the bowl of stones is bounced around the drums for the blind dancer to emulate. On its own the Playbar demonstrated adequate timbre and depth, certainly the equal of or better than a non subwoofer assisted soundbar from a typical brand major. With music the vocals are shown as being slightly brassy but immediate with an interesting but effective spacious relationship to the screen courtesy of the 45 degree speaker placement and the 24 million calculations a second that the Playbar carries out as part of its digital proccessing.

When they played Pink Floyd "Time" from Dark Side of the Moon it was exactly suited to this device with the clock bells pealing with terrific presence and the chiming positioned above the Bar cospatial with the screen in an enjoyable and fun musical presentation. Bass was present but clipped within the physical limitations of the Bar.

Adding the Sonos subwoofer to the system revealed its true power as a visual system with terrific albeit mono octave bass presence ... oh that's it ... it sounds like a giant Bose system ... but with better midrange ... and much less expensive ... and better made ... and capable of doing so much more with different types of music media ...

Playing the latest Star Trek movie when the Enterprise cavalry charges out of the gas cloud to save the world from Eric Bana it was clear that all the Sonos Phasers are set to kill in the marketplace.

There is a night mode by the way on the Playbar so as to enable movies without the peaks and troughs and therefore to keep down neighbourhood litigation and visits from your local constabulary ...

There is a speech enhancement mode for dialogue cleanup ... and that's it ... no 24 DSP surround modes with multiple channel offset and infinitely adjustable parameters. When you do the full system with a pair of Play Threes at the rear channels wirelessly connected it is such fun with full Dolby Digital AC3 available straight out of the box when encoded in the original signal, otherwise the device processes with Dolby Pro logic style on two channel or other material. During set up of the Play Threes as rears you put in the distances of the speaker and it sets up the delays accordingly, very thoughtfully there is a lip sync adjustment within the settings as well to allow for those transmisions downloads or discs that don't speak in time to the video ...

One of the very clever innovations on the Playbar is the way they allow its basic function as a TV system to run once set up from ... any remote control ...

What that means is that during set up you can nominate a remote, it could be your Television or your Foxtel or whatever, point it at the Playbar and it will control the Sonos device volume as though it were part of the TV.very uniquely if the Playbar dosnt have the IR coding of your particular remote control stored in it to recognise it you can learn any remotes volume up, volume down, and mute, into it to The Cloud.

In the hotel room this evening there was an unknown Iban brand remote that was easily learned by the unit.
Every existing Sonos client who has their multi room audio is going to love this as an add-on to their Tvs. Other people who can no longer understand what the newsreader is saying in their unintelligable late model Flatscreen will love what this can do and then buy more Sonos for their residences when they discover how much music Sonos can get around your house from so many places to so many places.

This is not say that the Playbar is a universal panacea for surround sound ... lets be very clear that it dosnt do high definition surround audio or high quality stereo. It dosnt do multiple HDMI inputs and retransmit that elsewhere in your house.

But it will certainly effect entry point Receiver sales and will probably take a very large piece out of Bose TV sales ...