Playbar: Playbar: Wireless Soundbar (Refurbished) | Sonos

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Sonos Arc vs Sonos Playbar: Is it worth upgrading?

Sonos introduced the Arc soundbar in 2020, replacing the older Playbar from 2013, likely leaving many wondering whether they need to upgrade.

After all, a lot can happen in the world of tech in seven years, and the Sonos Arc introduced some features that just weren’t possible or popular back when the Playbar first came about.

With that in mind, we’re looking at the differences between the old Playbar and newer Arc in Sonos’ soundbar range in order to help you make your mind up on any upgrade decision. You can also read how the Arc compares to the smaller Beam and Ray soundbars in our separate feature.

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  • Sonos Arc: 1141.7 x 87 x 115.7mm, 6.25kg, HDMI eARC
  • Sonos Playbar: 900 x 85 x 140mm, 5.4kg, optical
  • Both require broadband and power supply

The Sonos Arc represents a major design rethink in comparison to the Playbar, but not when you consider the rest of the current Sonos speaker family. It adopts smooth curves and elliptical ends, over the square chunky aesthetic of before.

Both are able to work equally as well when wall-mounted or laid flat on a TV stand, with intelligent sensors determining the position for each bar to adjust its sound signature to suit.

The Arc is a little bigger – longer and with fractionally more height, but has less overall depth. The Playbar’s shape means that it offers a very different look when flat than when under a TV, whereas the Arc looks similar in both form factors.

They differ when it comes to the connections on the rear. The Arc has a HDMI port that is HDMI eARC capable. In comparison, the Playbar has a single optical digital audio input (TOSlink). You do get an optical audio adapter in with the Arc, in case that is still your preferred connection (from an older TV, say), but most TVs these days support HDMI ARC or eARC from at least one of their ports.

Both speakers can be connected to your home network (and the internet) via Ethernet or Wi-Fi (802. 11b/g 2.4GHz).

The Sonos Arc is available in two colours, however: black and white. The Playbar has only ever been available in black (with metallic trimming).

Sound

  • Sonos Arc: 8 woofers, 3 tweeters – with Dolby Atmos
  • Sonos Playbar: 6 mid-range woofers, 3 tweeters
  • Both have Class-D digital amplifiers to match speaker drivers

There is a marked difference in sound between the two bars, most notably because the Arc was the first Sonos speaker to adopt Dolby Atmos support.

The Playbar remains an excellent sound system, with a speaker array that features six mid-range drivers, three tweeters and nine Class D amplifiers. Two of the drivers are angled at either end to deliver a wider soundstage, especially when combined with the front-facing drivers left and right. The centre channel is served by two woofers and one tweeter for precise, clear vocals.

It is effectively a 3.0 system that can be matched with a couple of separate Sonos One speakers and the company’s Sub to make more of a home cinema setup.

The Arc, on the other hand, has been completely reworked and retuned to deliver more of a 5.0.2 experience from the same soundbar. The far left and right drivers are more angled still, to deliver wider side channels, while the front facing drivers work for centre, left and right channels.

There are two extra drivers angled upwards this time, creating the height channels needed for Dolby Atmos. These bounce supported soundtracks off the ceiling to the listening position to provide further immersion in a movie, sporting event or Atmos-mixed music.

There are eight elliptical woofers in total this time, plus three tweeters – each served by one of the 11 Class D amplifiers in total.

Again, you can add extra Sonos One speakers (or older Play:1s) to work as actual (rather than virtual) rear/surround channels and a Sub.

Features

  • Sonos Arc: HDMI eARC with HDMI CEC and auto sync, Alexa and Google Assistant on-board
  • Sonos Playbar: IR receiver

In many respects, the Sonos Playbar is a fairly dumb system when compared to the Arc. It is a Sonos speaker, of course, so connects to the Sonos controller/app and can play streamed music just like all Sonos devices. However, as it connects to a TV (or AV receiver) via optical it is fed audio and that’s all.

With a HDMI connection, the Sonos Arc is much more capable. Especially with HDMI eARC support.

HDMI eARC adds a number of additional benefits. Not only does it support the bandwidth required to deliver a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, it is a two-way connection so the Arc can communicate with the TV too. This allows HDMI CEC to work between devices, meaning you only need the one remote control to use on both. Your TV remote, for example, can control all functionality of the Arc – volume, mute, etc.

The Playbar volume could only be controlled via IR or the Sonos app, while the Arc (also with an IR sensor) provides more options.

Another big feature that comes with the Arc is voice control and assistance.

Like the Sonos One, Move and Roam, the Arc has Alexa and Google Assistant support on board, as well as Sonos Voice Control. That means you can use its four far-field microphone array to issue commands and ask questions of either voice assistant.

Price

There’s no doubt that the Sonos Arc comes with many more bells and whistles than its older sibling, but you might be swayed by the price.

The Sonos Arc was considerably more expensive at launch than the Sonos Playbar was. And, considering it has now been replaced, you might be able to get hold of a Playbar at a healthy discount.

The Sonos Arc will set you back £799 ($799), while the Playbar was £699 ($699) at launch.

Sonos PlayBar

Amazon

Conclusion

To be honest, we often compare new products with the older version they are replacing or have replaced and rarely do we recommend a generational upgrade. However, in the case of the Sonos Arc, there is a much clearer argument.

As the first Sonos product to adopt Dolby Atmos, and to include actual upward firing drivers, the Sonos Arc has a clear advantage over its predecessor. And, that’s without even considering HDMI eARC support, Alexa and Google Assistant, plus a, frankly, sexier look.

Yes it will be a pricey upgrade, especially as the Sonos Playbar remains one of the best-sounding out there, but you do get a whole lot more for your money.

You can check out our full review of the Sonos Arc here.

Sonos Playbar vs. Sonos Beam: Which Is Better?

It’s a well-known fact that TV speakers aren’t the best. Sure, your large TV may look fantastic, but unless you have a dedicated soundbar, don’t expect premium quality sound to accompany your glorious display.Two of the best soundbars you can get your hands on right now are the Sonos Playbar and the Sonos Beam. If you’ve narrowed down your search to these two amazing options, but can’t make your final decision, we’re here to help you out. We’ll take a look at everything there is to know about both soundbars, and ultimately choose a winner.

Product Pricing

The Sonos Beam has a slight advantage here, only because you can still buy it new. The Sonos Playbar, on the other hand, is incredibly difficult to find new, so you’ll likely be purchasing it refurbished from a large retailer.

Because you’re at the mercy of whoever is selling a refurbished Sonos Playbar, the price is unpredictable and can sometimes be ridiculously high if the demand is high as well. You’ll be looking to pay anywhere between $500 and $900 for a refurbished Sonos Playbar. The Sonos Beam retails for $449.

Comparing the Sonos Playbar and Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam is equipped for powerful, crisp sound, with five Class-D digital amplifiers, four full-range woofers, one tweeter, and a five far-field microphone array. Although the audio specs are what most people are interested in, it’s also worth noting that the Beam is a little over 6 pounds in weight and has dimensions of 2.68 x 25.63 x 3.94 inches.

Alternately, the Sonos Playbar has nine Class-D digital amplifiers to match its nine dedicated speaker drivers, three tweeters, and six mid-woofers. Because there’s quite a bit more packed into the Playbar, it’s not surprising that it weighs almost 12 pounds, about twice as much as the Beam. Physical dimensions are 3.35 x 35.43 x 5.51 inches.

Connectivity Options

To connect the Sonos Beam to your TV, you’ll need an HDMI ARC or optical digital audio output, a strong broadband internet connection, and the Sonos app for iOS or Android. To connect the Sonos Playbar up to your TV, you’ll need all the same things, except you can only connect the Playbar to your TV via an optical audio output.

Both the Playbar and the Beam can be connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network either wirelessly or via an Ethernet connection. The Playbar has two 10/100 Mbps Ethernet ports, while the Beam only has one.

Image Credit: Sonos

The Sonos Playbar, pictured above, is larger and heavier than the Sonos Beam, which is pictured below. With all the audio technology hiding inside, it’s no wonder that the Playbar has to be so large.

Plus, in order to get the best sound quality out of the Playbar, it really needs to be sitting upright, which means it’s going to take up even more space on your TV stand. Or, if your TV is mounted, you can always mount the Playbar underneath or above it if you have the space.

Image Credit: Sonos

Because it doesn’t have to accommodate quite as much internally, the Beam is smaller and about half the weight of the Playbar. And, you can leave the soundbar as it is pictured above, so it’ll easily fit under your TV in your entertainment center.

The Sonos Beam features a more modern look overall. With curved corners and a less boxy feel, the Beam is a sleek, all-black alternative to the Playbar’s almost industrial style with silver accents.

Supported Devices

The Sonos Playbar and Sonos Beam will both likely connect with any devices that you currently use with your TV.

As mentioned above, the Beam can connect to your TV via an HDMI cable or through an optical audio output. Then, the Playbar connects only via an optical audio cable. Once the soundbar is connected to your TV, it will play all sources connected to the TV, including cable boxes and game consoles.

Sound Quality and Performance

Image Credit: Sonos

Between the Sonos Playbar and the Sonos Beam, the Playbar is far superior in terms of sound quality. Simply put, there are more amplifiers, woofers, and tweeters inside that work together to produce theater-quality sound.

Inside the Playbar, you’ll find a nine-driver speaker array and three tweeters that help dialogue and other high-frequency sounds come across clearly. Then, there are six mid-woofers that deliver sound effects and music on the left and right channels, as well as crystal clear dialog from the center.

Because of the pure power inside the Playbar, it can easily fill a room with booming bass that’ll make your living room feel like a movie theater. The Playbar, as well as the Beam, can be paired with a Sonos Sub and a set of Sonos One or Sonos One SL speakers to create a 5.1 surround sound setup.

Although the Sonos Beam is not quite as powerful as the Playbar, it still produces great sound that’s fantastic for home movie-viewing and dance parties. Inside, there are five amplifiers, four full-range woofers, and one tweeter. With the four full-range woofers, you’ll be able to hear midrange vocals and dialogue, as well as some pretty deep bass sounds.

For the average home, the Sonos Beam can easily fill the living room with audio and actually nail booming bass sounds in movies and bass-heavy songs. Despite its smaller size, the Beam is still a premium soundbar, so expect great sound quality as well.

The Sonos Beam also features Dolby Atmos support. Inside the Beam, there’s a faster processor that’s able to support Dolby Atmos and create two different audio paths for a 3D sound effect. This essentially means that if you’re watching a movie with planes flying overhead, the planes will sound like they’re over your head, and so on with other sound effects, like footsteps or crashes. You’ll need to make sure your TV supports Dolby Atmos and Atmos-encoded content.

Voice-Activated Functions

Image Credit: Sonos

Unfortunately, the Sonos Playbar doesn’t have any voice-activated functions built in. You can still use voice commands through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, but you’ll need a separate device, like an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Nest Hub.

If you’re after integrated voice control, the Beam is your go-to choice. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are built-in, so you can use those virtual assistants to help control the volume, change the song, and more without needing a separate device.

Final Verdict: Sonos Beam vs. Sonos Playbar

For most people, the Beam is the best Sonos soundbar to invest in. It’s smaller, more lightweight, and still provides clear and powerful sound to enjoy during a movie or your favorite songs. Plus, it’s still available to purchase new from retailers. Not that there’s anything wrong with buying refurbished electronics, but it’s always nice to buy something brand new for your home.

With built-in voice controls, the Beam doesn’t only look modern, it comes with greer features that are extremely useful in smart homes. The Sonos Playbar would be a great investment if you’re after a home theater that’ll be reminiscent of a movie theater, but most people probably just don’t need a soundbar that intense.

Windows 10 Game bar – how to use it

Windows 10 has been around for a long time now with the Game bar, designed primarily for quick access to useful features in games (but can also be used in some regular programs). With each version, the game bar is updated, but mainly it concerns the interface – the features, in fact, remain the same.

This simple guide details how to use the Windows 10 Game Bar (screenshots are for the latest version of the system) and what tasks it can be useful for. You might also be interested in: Windows 10 Game Mode, How to disable Windows 10 Game Bar.0003

How to enable and open the Windows 10 game bar

By default, the game bar is already enabled, but if for some reason this turned out to be not the case for you, and hotkey launch Win + G does not occur, you can enable it in Windows 10 Settings.

To do this, go to Settings – Games and make sure that the item “Record game clips, take screenshots and broadcast them using the game menu” in the “Game menu” section is enabled.

After that, in any running game or in some applications, you can open the game bar by pressing the keyboard shortcut Win+G (you can also set your own keyboard shortcut on the above options page). Also, to launch the Game bar in the latest version of Windows 10, the item “Game Menu” appeared in the “Start” menu.

Using the game bar

After pressing the keyboard shortcut for the game bar, you will see something like the screenshot below. This interface allows you to take a screenshot of the game, video, and control the playback of audio from various sources on the computer right during the game, without going to the Windows desktop.

Some actions can be performed (such as creating screenshots or recording video) without opening the game panel, but by pressing the corresponding hot keys without interrupting the game.

Among the available options in the Windows 10 Game Bar:

  1. Take a screenshot. To create a screenshot, you can click on the button in the game panel, or you can, without opening it, press the key combination Win + Alt + PrtScn in the game.
  2. Record the last few seconds of the game to a video file. Also available via keyboard shortcut Win+Alt+G . By default, the function is disabled, you can enable it in Options – Games – Clips – Record in the background while the game is in progress (after enabling the parameter, you can set how many last seconds of the game will be saved). You can also enable background recording in the game menu options without leaving it (more on that later). Please note that enabling the feature may affect FPS in games.
  3. Video game recording. Keyboard Shortcut – Win+Alt+R . When recording starts, a recording indicator will appear on the screen with the option to turn off microphone recording and stop recording. The maximum recording time is configured in Options – Games – Clips – Recording.
  4. Game broadcast. Broadcast start is also available by pressing Win+Alt+B . Only Microsoft’s Mixer broadcast service is supported.

Please note: If you see a message that “This PC does not meet the hardware requirements for recording clips” when you try to start recording video in the game bar, it is most likely either a very old video card or there are no installed drivers for it.

By default, all recordings and screenshots are saved to the Videos/Clips system folder (C:\Users\Username\Videos\Captures) on your computer. If necessary, you can change the save location in the clip options.

You can also change the sound recording quality, the FPS with which the video is recorded, enable or disable sound recording from the microphone by default.

Game bar settings

On the settings button in the game bar, there are a small number of options that may be useful:

  • In the “General” section, you can disable the game bar hints when starting the game, and also uncheck “Remember this as a game” if you do not want to use the game bar in the current application (i. e. disable it for the current application) .
  • In the Recording section, you can turn on background recording while playing a game without going into Windows 10 settings (background recording must be turned on to be able to record video of the last seconds of the game).
  • In the “Sound for recording” section, you can change what sound is recorded in the video – all audio from the computer, only the sound from the game (default), or no audio is recorded at all.

In summary, Game Bar is a very simple and beginner-friendly game video recording tool that doesn’t require any additional software to be installed (see Best Screen Recorders). Do you use Game Bar (and for what purposes, if so)?

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Game panel with keys

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Game panel “Labyrinth with keys”

art. 3019

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