Vizio bills itself as "America's HDTV Company," but the company has begun dipping its toe into the home audio side of the electronics pool with the VSB210WS. Billed as a "High Definition Sound Bar," the $349 package features a sleek-looking single speaker paired with a full-size 2.4GHz wireless subwoofer. While high-definition TV is something that is clearly objective, high-definition sound is something completely different. While we wouldn't sign off on the "high-definition" moniker for the VSB210WS (or any sound bar we've heard to date), we did find it to be a credible performer for the price. It's a stereo speaker, so it cannot promise much in the way of surround sound. That said, Vizio engineers gave the VSB210WS a noticeably fuller, more bass-rich sound than your average entry-level sound bar, and the inclusion of a wireless subwoofer makes it a good deal.
Design and features
The VSB210WS's sound bar and subwoofer are attractively finished in a high-gloss black plastic. Construction quality feels substantial and the speaker's brushed metal end-caps are distinctive. A removable black cloth grille covers the four 3-inch-high mid/bass drivers and two 0.75-inch aluminum dome tweeters. A built-in 15-watt-per-channel stereo amplifier powers the drivers. The 9.2-pound sound bar measures 4.82 inches tall by 39.95 inches wide by 4.33 inches deep.
Toward the center section of the front edge of the speaker cabinet, you'll find the power, input selector, volume, mute, and processing controls. Conveniently enough, the sound bar's built-in feet can double as wall brackets.
The small, black plastic remote control duplicates the speaker's controls and adds a subwoofer volume control. While this is a welcome addition, the sound bar doesn't have a dedicated display panel, so you'll have to make sense of the flickering LED lights to determine volume, input, and processing functions.
The 10-segment LED array is located behind the grille. The first seven white LEDs indicate volume level and input selectors. LED numbers five through seven correspond to the three audio inputs, the orange eighth LED indicates that the speaker and subwoofer have linked, and the last two blue LEDs refer to the sound bar's processing modes (These processing modes include SRS TruSurround, which produces virtual surround sound, and SRS Labs' TruVolume, which promises to minimize volume fluctuations.). When you mute the unit, the volume LEDs will flash. If you think all of that sounds confusing to read, our hands-on experience wasn't much better. This is something you'll simply have to get used to in order to understand the various functions of the sound bar.
The frustrating LED arrangement wasn't our only gripe with the system. You have to point the remote directly at the VSB210WS or it won't work--there's no leeway here. We also found that the remote turned the volume up or down a bit too quickly.
Connectivity is fairly basic: just two stereo RCA analog inputs and one optical digital input (one stereo RCA cable is included).
System setup is quite simple, as you only need to hook up your audio connections to the VSB210WS and adjust the subwoofer volume to your taste. But since the VSB210WS doesn't switch video sources, like your Blu-ray player or cable box, you'll have to remember to switch those on your TV manually, or set up a macro on your universal remote to handle the job.