6
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

First Look: Vizio's sound bar is a solid pick -- for now

About Video Transcript

First Look: Vizio's sound bar is a solid pick -- for now

3:03 /

The Vizio SB4021M-A1 hits a nice blend of features, design, and performance for its price, but better sound bars are coming in a few months.

-Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET and we're taking a look at the Vizio SB4021M-A1. This is a budget sound bar that came out at the end of 2012 and is currently selling for $270. If you've seen the Vizio sound bar over the last year or so, you're gonna be pretty familiar with this design. It's a relatively sleek look with a glossy black finish with silver accents and angled feet at the bottom. It's not quite as slim as some other sound bars I've seen, but it's still gonna fit comfortably on a TV stand. There's a front-panel display, which is handy, so you can see what level of volume is that, plus some basic controls on the top of the sound bar for when the remote goes missing. The included subwoofer is wireless which is nice because you can place it almost anywhere in your living room, although you'll get the best sound quality if you keep it within 8 feet of the sound bar. It also does need to be powered so you wanna keep it close to some kind of power outlet. The included remote is a cut above the typical sound bar remote. It's got a nice sizeable design plus the button layout is very straightforward. It doesn't have the neat slide-out panel that Vizio's older VHT215 had, but it's still, overall, a good clicker. There's an optical, coaxial, and mini-jack input on the back which should be enough for all your devices as long as you use your TV as a switcher. There's also a USB port which can be used to play MP3s, although it's a clunky solution since you need to navigate your music using the small front-panel display. The big missing feature is built-in bluetooth which is still relatively uncommon on sound bars, but will be much more prevalent in 2013 based on what we saw at CES. Built-in bluetooth is quickly becoming a must-have feature for sound bars since it works with nearly any smartphone or tablet for wireless audio streaming and it's not an easy feature to add to a sound bar with an adapter. Sound quality is good for the price and the Vizio lets you adjust bass and treble to dial in the sound exactly how you like. Movies are its strong suit and they can get plenty loud without distorting even on dynamic action sequences. As you'd expect, it's not as good with music and heavy rock can really reveal its limitations. Vizio's big weakness is that the blend between the subwoofer and the sound bar isn't perfect. And when we compared it to our reference Haier SBEV40-Slim, the Haier really shined in that regard. However, that Haier sound bar is currently discontinued, which puts the Vizio's performance in a better light since it's one of the better performing options that's still available on the market. And that's really the main story with the Vizio. If you need a sound bar right now, this is a solid all-around choice with the good blend of design features and sound quality, but if you can wait a few more months, you'll have a lot more options and most of them will include built-in bluetooth. So, it's worth the wait if you can. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Vizio SB4021M-A1.

New releases

Panasonic LX100 advances the advanced compact
2:34 December 22, 2014
The company's pricey enthusiast compact raises the bar across the board among its peers.
Play video
The Arcade: a capitalist commune of indie game development
5:36 December 21, 2014
Playing host to 19 different companies, the Arcade in Melbourne, Australia is dedicated to changing the face of indie game development....
Play video
XCAR Awards 2014: Person of the year
1:41 December 20, 2014
Some incredibly people crossed paths with XCAR in 2014. We look back to see who impressed us most.
Play video
2014 BMW i8 (CNET On Cars, Episode 56)
19:02 December 19, 2014
BMW's i8 is definitely a taste of the future -- but whose? We'll shed some light on MPGe, the benchmark for tomorrow's cars. And we...
Play video
Need a new size? Just tap the mirror
1:55 December 19, 2014
In a place where fashion comes first, tech is coming in at a close second. In major department stores and small boutiques, the dressing...
Play video
Did life forms exist on Mars? Curiosity makes a big find, Ep. 187
4:46 December 19, 2014
It's the last Crave show of 2014. This week, Curiosity makes a huge discovery, the US Navy has a shark drone and American satellites...
Play video
Obama: Sony wrong to pull movie over hackers' threats
2:56 December 19, 2014
President Obama addresses the Sony cyberattack and vows to respond to North Korea. Also, T-Mobile settles cramming lawsuit, and Facebook...
Play video
A cheap activity tracker you will actually want to wear
2:11 December 19, 2014
CNET's Dan Graziano gives you a look at one of the most affordable fitness trackers on the market.
Play video