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Philips sound bar has detachable rear speakers, gets you true surround sound

Philips announced at CES 2013 the Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100, calling it the world's first sound bar with battery-powered detachable speakers that operate over Bluetooth.

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LAS VEGAS--If you go with a sound bar instead a speaker system, you generally have to give up true surround sound. Unless, of course, your sound bar is a transformer.

The Philips Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100 is billed as the "world's first sound bar with detachable speakers," as the far ends of the sound bar can be removed and used as rear speakers. The detachable, battery-powered speakers operate wirelessly and Philips claims 10 hours of battery life. The speakers then recharge automatically when they're reattached.

Philips Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100
Philips Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100 John Falcone/CNET
Philips Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100
John Falcone/CNET

The HTL9100 also features two HDMI inputs, in addition to an optical input, although you won't need the HDMI connectivity if you use your TV as a switcher. There's also built-in Bluetooth, so you can wirelessly stream audio from most smartphones and tablets.

Philips Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100
John Falcone/CNET

The HTL9100 is definitely an interesting design, but get ready for the sticker shock: an $800 suggested retail price. The street price may be lower, but in that range the HTL9100 will be competing with excellent high-end sound bars like the SpeakerCraft CS3 and Atlantic Technology PB-235. And it's much more expensive than Vizio's just-announced $330 S4251W sound bar, which comes with wireless rear speakers, albeit not of the detachable variety.

The Philips Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100 is scheduled to be released in May.

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