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LG's sound bars snub AirPlay, stick with Bluetooth

LG has announced three new sound bars, with two featuring built-in Bluetooth for wireless music streaming from smartphones, among other devices.

LG NB3520A
LG's NB3520A sound bar includes both Bluetooth and a wireless subwoofer.Photo by LG

LAS VEGAS--AirPlay gets all the press, but LG is betting that Bluetooth is good enough.

LG announced three new sound bars at CES 2012 this morning, with two including built-in Bluetooth for wireless music streaming from smartphones. The choice to stick to Bluetooth could be a savvy one for a number of reasons, including compatibility with both iOS and Android devices and overall lower cost. When I reviewed LG's LSB316 last year, the Bluetooth streaming was impressive, with my iPhone 4 treating it almost exactly like an AirPlay device. Sound quality on the LSB316 wasn't as impressive, especially on loudness, but the high-end NB3520A is packing a little more wattage.

The features on LG's sound bars break down as follows:

LG NB2520A: 80W + 3 HDMI inputs + built-in sub
LG NB2420A: Bluetooth + 160W + "3D sound"
LG NB3520A: Bluetooth + 300W + "3D sound" + wireless sub

At first glance, LG's trio of sound bars doesn't easily lend itself to the traditional "entry-level," "midrange," "high-end" ordering in a lineup. Some will find the NB2520A's three HDMI inputs to be the most premium feature of the list, and it's surprising that the midrange NB2420A doesn't have a wireless sub. No pricing (or release dates) have been announced yet, so it will be interesting to see how these systems shake out.

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