While traditional home theater systems offer at least a 5.1 channel surround sound, most of them are bulky single purpose devices which play blu-rays or DVDs. They do not work well with other devices and some older models do not stream music from smartphones.
There is now a cheaper and simpler alternative – a sound bar. They are smaller in size, less cabling problems, and can connect seamlessly to multiple devices via your TV. The downside is that most provide only 2.1 channel sound.
A new breed of soundbars allows Bluetooth music streaming from mobile devices, and some even come with apps for greater functionality. These soundbars are gaining traction with buyers for their simplicity and easy connectivity.
The number and variety of sound bars in the market have increased markedly this year. They now come with more playback and connectivity options such as USB, SD card slots and Bluetooth. Because of these additional functions and better sound quality, prices of soundbars have also started to match home theater systems.
Some soundbars manufacturers are also targeting the high end market, like the Sonos Playbar, the Libertone Lounge speakers and the Yamaha YSP-5100BL Digital Sound Projector which costs in excess of $2000.