Anyone who owns an HDTV has no doubt discovered an almost universal truth: built-in speakers stink. Unfortunately, as I noted the other day, you can't just plug in a set of external speakers; usually you need a receiver to act as the go-between, and that gets expensive.
Note that I said "usually." Another option is a sound bar, a speaker/receiver combo that sits above or below the screen and does the work of two or more standalone speakers. Of course, these can be pricey, too.
Not today: TigerDirect has the refurbished Vizio VBS200 HD Sound Bar for $69.99 shipped. Buy one new and it'll cost you more like $100.
The VBS200 consists of four midrange speakers and two tweeters, which kick out a maximum of 60 watts' worth of audio. And thanks to built-in SRS TruSurround technology, you can opt for a virtual surround-sound experience.
Make no mistake: this isn't intended to rival a full-on surround system--but you can bet it's a vast improvement over your TV's built-in speakers.
That's my takeaway from reading a ton of user reviews, which average out to around 4 stars out of 5 on TigerDirect and Amazon. That said, I don't have any hands-on experience with the VBS200. If you do, well, let's hear from you!
I've been waiting for a price drop on one of these, as the TV in my basement lair sounds dreadful. Although the warranty is just one month, my guess is the sound bar either works out of the box or doesn't. As always, I'm willing to roll the dice. You?
Bonus deal: Game time! Direct2Drive has the thoroughly awesome BioShock 2 (PC) for just $4.99. That's just about the best five bucks you can spend on an action-adventure sci-fi-horror RPG game, IMHO.