Sonos Playbar

You can think of the $700 Sonos Playbar as a gateway drug into the company's well-regarded wireless multiroom music playback system. You may start with the soundbar, but once you're hooked, you'll be salivating for more.

On its own, the Playbar is a solid home theater system replacement. Despite its slim profile, it creates the illusion of a wide sound field, as if the speakers were spread further apart than they are. The Playbar offers better-than-average low-end effects for a unit without a subwoofer. Dialogue resounds clearly, and the speaker really shines for music, with rich bass and crisp treble tones.

The intuitive app really opens up what the Playbar can do. Connect the soundbar to your wireless network through Sonos's $49 Bridge adapter and it becomes a hub for digital audio content: Stream music files from your computer, tap into Pandora or Slacker Internet radio, or access your subscription music services.

In addition to more features, the unit offers some sound improvements over similarly priced soundbars.

And that's only the beginning of the potential soundscape you can create. For example, you can add a wireless subwoofer and surround speakers to create a more traditional home theater setup, and you can add other Sonos speakers in other rooms to create a whole-home system. The Playbar isn't just a soundbar; it's the beginning of a sound system. [$700; sonos.com]