In the past year, the soundbar category has exploded due to a combination of convenience, discrete footprints and (usually) value for money. Though most solutions are available for under a grand, this hasn't stopped premium brands such as Marantz from releasing its own versions.
Definitely not the looker that the B&W Zeppelin is. (Credit: B&W)
And now it's Bowers and Wilkins' turn. The B&W Panorama is a subwoofer-less soundbar system and promises to "redefine the soundbar market in the same way the Zeppelin shook up the iPod speaker world".
While we saw one hanging on the wall at CES, the company was only giving private demonstrations offsite. Size-wise, it's about the width of a 37-inch television, and features nine drivers; five for the active centre speaker, two bass woofers, two mid-range drivers, and a tube-loaded aluminium dome tweeter.
We must admit that for a system that costs US$2,200 we're disappointed by the lack of HDMI inputs, with the only connectivity being two optical digital, one coaxial digital and two stereo analog inputs.
While B&W claim the unit should provide enough bass for most rooms, they also suggest hooking up a PV1 sub if you want more boom.
It's due to release in the US in Q2 2009, but no local availability or pricing is yet known. However, at the current exchange, and given the local distributor's fondness for pricing, we're probably looking at over AU$5,000.
Ty Pendlebury is attending CES 2009 as a guest of LG.
B&W says the Panorama should have enough bass to fill most rooms. (Credit: B&W)