Sonos Introduces $199 PLAY1 Speaker

Sonos introduced its new PLAY1 speaker this week. At a retail price of $199, the PLAY1 is a welcome addition to Sonos complete line of multi-room audio products and is bound to be one of the hottest products at Grand this holiday season. The compact PLAY1 measures just 4.7″ wide by 6.4″ high allowing it to fit just about anywhere. But don’t let the compact footprint fool you. PLAY1 is outfitted with two Class D amplifiers to power its built-in woofer and tweeter and produce sound quality you’d expect from a much larger speaker. Of course PLAY1 also features all the streaming music capability you’ve come to know and love from Sonos. Not familiar with Sonos? Check out this video for a complete overview: Sonos Intro Video.

The versatile PLAY1 speaker is more than just a compact HiFi powerhouse. You can wirelessly pair two PLAY1s for true stereo output capable of filling larger spaces. If that’s not enough, add Sonos’ high performance SUB to your PLAY1 pair for a wireless 2.1 solution that rivals bulky component based systems at significantly higher prices. If home theater is your thing, add a pair of PLAY1s to Sonos PLAYBAR soundbar home theater system for a wireless surround sound solution for your TV viewing. Speaking of PLAYBAR, the popular home theater system recently received a #1 rating from Consumer Reports in the soundbar home theater category.

PLAY1 will be hitting Grand stores on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. In the meantime, check out the product images below or this video to see the PLAY1 for yourself.

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Sonos PLAYBAR: The Smart Speaker for Today’s Smart TVs

For more than a decade, Sonos has been a pioneer in wireless, whole-home audio technology. Their initial product launch in 2002 essentially created the category and the company has been dominating ever since. After seeing their brand new soundbar, PLAYBAR, I’m a firm believer their dominance will only continue to grow.

Before we get into the new product, here’s a little background info.

SONOS OVERVIEW

sonos family- no playbar

Sonos’ Current Product Family

Sonos allows users to easily stream content from their iTunes library, SiriusXM, TuneIn Radio, Pandora, Rhapsody, MOG, Spotify and more to any room in the house. Systems can be wirelessly expanded to additional rooms as needed and easily controlled with free software for most smartphones, tablets or computers.

What sets Sonos apart is its wireless, room-by-room approach. Users can build and customize their system over time rather than buying all rooms at one time. System are made up of one or more ZonePlayers, which are Sonos devices that play streaming content. ZonePlayers are available as stand-alone Sonos speakers or components that connect to any speaker or audio system. ZonePlayers communicate wirelessly with each other to create a whole home system capable of streaming a different feed in each room or the same feed in all rooms. Best of all, Sonos uses its own unique wireless technology (rather than WiFi or Bluetooth), so users get consistently reliable results without taxing their home network.

If you want to learn more about Sonos and its ZonePlayers, click here for more information.

SOUNDBAR OVERVIEW

A soundbar is a low-profile, elongated speaker designed to match today’s ultra-flat TVs. They’ve become very popular because they’re simple systems that can provide much better sound than speakers in an ultra-thin TV and can be installed without hacking into walls or running extensive cabling.

generic soundbar

Virtually all of the soundbars on the market today have three basic flaws:

  1. Subwoofer Required: Most subwoofers are wireless, but it’s still a speaker that needs to find a home in the room.
  2. Another Remote Control: Although some can learn the basic functions of your TV, cable or satellite remote, the system remote is still required to switch inputs or sound settings.
  3. TV-Centricity: The sole purpose is making your TV sound better. But what about everything else? Some have multiple inputs, but connecting an iPod or smartphone to rear mounted inputs is pretty difficult when your soundbar is on the wall – or worse yet on a wall over a fireplace. Bluetooth can solve that in some cases, but that technology can be finicky and is not the ideal format for streaming music.

MEET PLAYBAR

playbar views

Wall Mounted and Table Top Views

Yesterday Sonos introduced PLAYBAR, the innovative soundbar that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen. I could dive into how the low profile PLAYBAR speaker sounds great thanks to its nine premium built-in drivers, but its the built-in Sonos streaming audio technology that really pushes PLAYBAR ahead of the pack. Now, when you combine PLAYBAR and a smart TV, you’ve got a central hub for virtually any music or video source on earth. It’s truly a smart speaker for your smart TV.

In addition to great sound and streaming music capability, PLAYBAR offers additional features few competitors can match. Perhaps the most impressive is PLAYBAR’s automatic sound optimization. PLAYBAR has the built-in computing power of a laptop and performs millions of calculations per second in order to output outstanding sound in any environment. It even features a built-in accelerometer that automatically detects the installation configuration to deliver great sound for that specific application. Best of all, the entire process is automatic – no software to run or settings to adjust.

PLAYBAR Family View

PLAYBAR Family View

Another very cool feature is PLAYBAR’s multiple configuration options. PLAYBAR sounds great on its own, but add a Sonos subwoofer (model: SUB) and you have a 3.1 system with some serious punch. Add the sub and two Sonos PLAY3 speakers and you have a completely wireless 5.1 solution that rivals just about anything available today.

But wait, there’s more! Here are some more unique PLAYBAR features:

  • Simple Connections: Plug it in and connect to your TV with the included fiber optic cable and you’re all set.
  • TV Control: PLAYBAR pairs with your TV remote in a matter of seconds for simple control while watching TV
  • Smart Device Ready: Like all Sonos components, PLAYBAR is easily controlled with most smartphones, tablets and computers.
  • Future-Proof Upgrades: Like all Sonos components, PLAYBAR will continually be upgraded with software updates and new services to make it a future-proof home audio solution.
  • Night Mode: Outputs clear, contained output for stealth listening while others are asleep.
  • Speech Enhancement: Outputs clear dialog so you can actually understand what people are saying on-screen.
  • Ethernet Connection: Allows you to hard-wire your TV to the home network if WiFi is spotty.
  • Rear IR Output: Allows for control of your TV even if the bar is blocking the IR sensor.

Spice up your Summertime Fun With Great Sound

If you’re looking for a way to easily add high quality sound to your outdoor fun this summer, consider an Outcast speaker system from Soundcast

Overview

An Outcast weather resistant speaker system is by far the simplest solution for high quality outdoor sound. Simply plug it in, connect your iPod, smart phone or tablet and enjoy your favorite playlists and music services outside. Better yet, charge the built-in battery and take it anywhere you want for up to 15 hours of quality music output.

High Performance Output

Outcast’s unique design allows you to fill even large outdoor spaces with rich, stereo sound. Models feature four strategically positioned omni-directional speakers and a built-in subwoofer to deliver 360-degrees of stereo sound. 

Wireless Streaming Music

Want to be completely wireless? No problem. Select Outcast systems ship with Soundcast’s wireless iPod docking station, which allows you to stream music from your iPod or iPhone to the speaker system. The dock even features an input for connection to your computer, stereo, home theater or even your TV allowing you to stream your favorite CD, the ball game, Pandora and more to your Outcast system. With a wireless range of up to 300ft., the docking system is a great solution for virtually any application.

Models and Options

Outcast speaker systems are available in two sizes. The full-size Outcast speaker system features a 100-watt amplifier and 8″ subwoofer. Suggested retail is $899 for the speaker itself or $999 for the speaker and  wireless iPod dock bundle pack.

The more compact Outcast Jr. features a 60-watt amplifier and 6.5″ subwoofer. The compact size is perfect for portability. It even ships complete with a 12-volt car adapter making it the perfect tailgating solution. Suggest retail is $599 for the speaker itself or $699 for the speaker and wireless iPod bundle pack.

Samsung Smart TVs

Samsung’s 2011 line of web-enabled Smart TVs have hit the market and are generating a lot of buzz on the retail floor. Smart TVs allow you to surf the web (select models), access popular web applications like Netflix, Facebook and Pandora, access files stored on networked devices in your home such as your computer or smart phone and even allow for enhanced control with smart phones and tablets.

The Smart TV feature is available on five LED series and three plasma series with retail pricing starting at $1,099 for a 40″ LED TV. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.

Smart Hub. The heart of the Smart TV system is the Smart Hub (pictured below). From the Smart Hub you can easily access content, games and more. Best of all, you don’t have to miss a minute of the action on TV while browsing the Smart Hub for content. Notice the box in the top left showing several hot air balloons. That box represents a live action feed of the TV broadcast while browsing the Smart Hub.

App-Based Web Content. Smart TV content is app-based so you can add and delete apps over time as needed. There are currently hundreds of apps available with more being added every day (click here for a full list). Listed below are the most popular apps by category:

  • Video On Demand: Netflix, Blockbuster, Vudu and Hulu Plus
  • Sports and News: ESPN Next Level, MLB.TV, AccuWeather, USA Today, AP News and Google Maps
  • Lifestyle: Facebook, Twitter and Picasa
  • Music: Pandora and Napster
  • Games: Sudoku and Texas Hold ‘Em

Skype. Skype is a free video chat service ordinarily confined to your computer or laptop. Not anymore. The Skype app is available on most models allowing you to video chat through your big screen TV. Samsung’s Skype camera accessory ($149) is required for use of this feature.

AllShare. AllShare is what enables connectivity with networked devices in the home like your computer and smart phone. Download the free AllShare app on your smart phone or enable sharing on your computer to pull pictures, family movies or music from your PC to your TV without a mess of wires or complicated connections.

Smart Phone/Tablet Control. Most of the functions on the Smart TVs can be controlled by a tablet or smart phone via Samsung’s free control application. Apple’s iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone and most Android devices are compatible with the controller app. What’s more, Samsung announced a partnership with Comcast and Time Warner Cable at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that could eventually lead to the ability to control of your cable subscription through the Smart TV platform and eliminate the need for a cable box. Stay tuned for developments on that front.

System Requirements. All Smart TVs can be connected to the internet using a standard Ethernet cable or wirelessly via WiFi. Ethernet provides the fastest, most secure connection, while WiFi provides good connection without extensive rewiring. In fact, many models are equipped with a built-in WiFi adapter so in many cases, they can connect to your existing WiFi network right out of the box. For the best WiFi connection, particularly for streaming video content, be sure you’re using an N router.

So if you’re tired of waiting for the next Netflix shipment to arrive or huddling the family around the computer to Skype with the grandparents or view pictures from your most recent vacation, a new web-enabled Smart TV might be up your alley. Samples are on display at all 12 Grand Appliance and TV locations now. Stop in for a test drive.