As we all know, the Xbox One is not just a gaming system and that Microsoft want to make it the centrepiece of everyone’s living room. For me it suits perfectly, it’s used for the game but I use the other video apps such as Netflix just as much, Microsoft know that I won’t be the only one and that’s why they have worked with Polk to develop the N1 Surroundbar.
The first thing you notice is just how nice it looks; it comes in two flavours black and white. I thankfully got a black version to fit in with my TV unit and consoles, but the white does look very nice too. Setting the Surroundbar up is a doddle, plug it in and place the digital optical cable straight into the Xbox One optical port, I had to so things a little differently so that I could continue to use my Headset but that wasn’t a problem either. If your TV is wall mounted then you can mount the surroundbar underneath easily, with built-in keyhole slots for wall-mounting.
There are buttons on top of the bar for Power, Learn, Source, Bluetooth, Mute, and Volume Up/Down buttons but it also comes with a handy little remote too, much like the Xbox One it has the ability to ‘learn’ controls from your normal TV remote which is also very easy to set up. As well as the digital optical port the back of the Surroundbar can take inputs from coaxial, analogue audio inputs, a subwoofer output, and it’s also where the power connector is. Sat just under the buttons are some LEDs to give you visual information such as which mode you are in, as well as the volume/bass level. When you change modes the LEDs will flash in a certain colour, for example when you switch to Polk’s Halo mode the lights go blue and they go red for the Forza mode and for the movies and music modes you see a purple set of lights.
I’ve spent about two weeks with the Surroundbar and have tested it with all sorts of games that I’ll roundup below. Naturally the first game I had to try was good old Halo 4 on the Xbox 360, as expected in Halo mode it brought the brilliant atmosphere buzzing round my ears, the music sounded fantastic and the atmosphere feels fuller when you bump the volume up. With a built in Forza mode, I had to load Forza 5 to test out these settings and as expected it performed really well, from the rumble of the engines to the amazing echoes from screaming through a tunnel.
I tested out other games such as Titanfall which sounds excellent as your titans drop, Madden 15 was really impressive too, I could actually hear my Quaterback shouting commands as well as the other players responding, something I’ve never managed to pick up on my Turtlebeach headset.
Murdered Soul Suspect, Wolfenstein and FIFA 14 all got some playtime too and I was pleased with results. It’s great to able play music via Bluetooth and movies were particularly impressive, we’re a bit Star Wars crazy in our house at the moment and the Surroundbar gets a bonus point for making the pod races even more impressive.
There is really only one downside to Surroundbar that I have come across and that was in a normal house you won’t be able to have the volume up too high, unless you don’t care about your neighbours that is. I only managed to get up to a couple of notches on the bar before I began to worry about disturbing the neighbours.
Polk really seem to have hit the nail on the head with this Surroundbar, although the big push is for it to accompany the Xbox One, in reality it works well across all of your gaming equipment and gives your TV an impressive boost too. It’s a great looking piece of kit and fits perfectly into any living room. The Bluetooth range is really impressive, if I play music from my phone I can change tracks from anywhere in my house unlike most of the devices which seem to fall apart when I leave the room.
Currently the N1Surroundbar while cost you £349.99 from Amazon, so it’s not cheap but it’s an impressive piece of kit that will fit into any lounge rather nicely.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: N/A Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were loaned a N1 Surroundbar by Polk for review purposes. The device was reviewed over the course of two weeks using a multitude of machines and games. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.