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Flat-screen TVs may be capable of delivering superb picture quality, but even the best of them usually struggle to produce really good sound. The Sharp HTSB200 aims to solve that problem. Available for around £110, it's a 2.1-channel surround-sound speaker bar that gives your TV an audio-quality boost.
Slim like a snake
Since the move to flat-screen tellies, one of the biggest complaints people have is not about picture quality but about poor sound. The slimline speakers used in today's plasma and LCD TVs often aren't up to the standard of the larger speakers that were used in old CRT tellies. The best option is to twin your set with a surround-sound speaker package, but not everyone has the space for this kind of set-up. This is where the HTSB200 comes in.
The HTSB200 is a long, slim unit that's designed to sit underneath your TV. It can either be left to rest on the supplied spikes in front of your set on a normal TV stand, or you can use the bracket included in the box to mount it on your wall. The soundbar is 80cm long, so it looks neatest when paired with TVs of between 32 and 42 inches in size. Sharp has finished the HTSB200 with an all-black, glossy coating, so it should have no problem blending in well with most tellies.
Setting up the speaker is a piece of cake, as there are only two inputs on the rear. The first comprises a pair of phono sockets that you connect to the audio output sockets on the rear of your TV, while the second is a standard mini-jack input that can be used to hook up a CD or MP3 player.
The HTSB200 houses a pair of stereo speakers, four small subwoofers and a built-in amp. Although it has on-board virtual-surround-sound processing, it doesn't have a full Dolby Digital or DTS decoder, unlike models such as the . Instead, the surround-sound processing on offer is SRS WOW HD. This simply takes the stereo feed from your TV and expands it slightly to make the sound stage seem wider. It's a pleasing-enough effect, but a long way from the bullets-whizzing-past-your-ears audio of a real surround-sound set-up.