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First Look: Polk Audio SurroundBar SDA IHT

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First Look: Polk Audio SurroundBar SDA IHT

2:55 /

The Polk Audio SurroundBar SDA IHT sounds better than most sound bars and puts a focus on simplicity, but its feature limitations and lack of a remote make it less appealing against the competition.

>> [Background Music] Hi, I'm Matthew Moskovciak senior associate editor at CNET and I'm here with the Polk Audio SurroundBar SDA IHT. Now IHT stands for instant home theater and that's a pretty good description of what this product is about. You've got the SoundBar, you've got a wireless subwoofer and that's it. You don't need a separate AV receiver, you connect your component directly to the SoundBar SDA. Now a lot of SoundBars you'll see they have a glossy finish, but the Polk has a matte finish and we kind of like that understated look. It also has two cradles that it can sit on, but if you take the cradles away it also has little rubber feet on the bottom so it will sit flat. Now from the front you'll also notice that it has a pretty bare look. There's no display on the front which we found to be a little bit confusing. Sometimes when you're adjusting the volume you won't know if you're at the maximum or if you have a little head room. So the lack of a display can be a little confusing at times. You'll also notice that there's actually no remote included with the unit. What Polk wants you to do is to program the remote that you use for your TV also to control the SurroundBar SDA. Now in some cases that makes it a lot more simple because all you have to do is use one single remote. At other times what we found is that sometimes it's adjusting the TV's sound, sometimes it's adjusting the Polk sound. It can get a little confusing so we thought that maybe Polk should have included a remote for situations where that worked better. If you look around back you'll also see that the connectivity is really limited on this unit. There's only a single analog input. Now what Polk wants you to do is to run all of your components directly into your TV and then use your TV's output to go directly into here and that allows you to use more than one device. That works well enough, but when there are other devices such as Sony's HT-CT100 and JVC's THBA1 that offer either HDMI connectivity in the case of the Sony or digital audio inputs in the case of the JVC. We found it a little hard to defend the Polk's shortcomings. Now, while we did find the Polk a little underfeatured we didn't have as many quibbles with the sound. We actually liked the way the Polk sounded a lot. In particular the blend between the subwoofer and the SoundBar is one the best that we've heard and we never felt like we could specifically hear the subwoofer it really just blended into the overall sound. Now, while we did find that the Polk has above average sound the one aspect that we found was a little bit lacking was overall dynamic impact. When we compared it to some of the ZVOX units that we've tested we found like the ZVOX 525 had a little bit more impact, but if you're more concerned with music and audio fidelity rather than just raw power the Polk is a good choice. Overall what we really liked the exterior design of the Polk and we liked the way that it sound. We found it really hard to justify the missing features offered on competitors especially when they're available for the same or even lower price. I'm Matthew Moskovciak here with CNET.com and this the Polk Audio SurroundBar SDA IHT.

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