LAS VEGAS--Sound bars generally mean you need to give up true surround sound, but Philips's HTL9100 wants you to have it both ways. The ends of the sound bar detach, letting you place them in the back of your room as rear speakers.
Samsung's obsession with tubes started with last year's CES darling, the DA-E750, and now the company is adding vacuum tube amplifiers to home theater systems and even sound bars. The Samsung HW-F750 is dubbed the "world's first sound bar with a vacuum tube amp," which is technically true: like last year's models, it has a tube preamplifier paired with a digital amplifier.
Also cool: it can connect wirelessly to certain Samsung TVs, for the most clutter-free sound bar look yet.
The newly announced Vizio S4251W tries to have the best of both worlds, pairing up a traditional sound bar with wireless rear speakers, so you get the ease of the sound bar up front with true immersive surround effects in the back. It's actually not the first time Vizio has offered the sound-bar-plus-rear-speakers arrangement; I was a fan of the VHT510 when I reviewed it back in 2011.
You can get Netflix on your TV, gaming console, Blu-ray player, smartphone, laptop, tablet, AV receiver, and now, finally, you can get Netflix in a sound bar, too. LG's new model is the first sound bar with streaming-media capabilities and built-in Wi-Fi, with support for Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and Pandora.
The DA-F60 portable Bluetooth speaker is a fraction of the size of most of the sound bars on this list, but Samsung claims it can be used as a sound bar too, connecting wirelessly to certain Samsung TVs. However, just because it can be a sound bar doesn't mean it should be one; I can't imagine it sounds great at that size.
The Sharp HT-SB60 isn't technically a new model (it came out last year), but the company has it on display at CES 2013. It's main claim to fame is size: it's designed to be used with TVs 60 inches or larger.
The Panasonic SC-HTB770 looks like a typical sound bar, with the exception of a separate amplifier unit that houses its three HDMI inputs and Bluetooth connectivity. Its real trick is that it can convert into a 3.1 system, by breaking apart the sound bar.
One of my long-standing complaints about sound bars is that too many models tend to block a TV's remote sensor when placed on a TV cabinet. There's little chance of that happening with the Philips HTL5120, which has a sleek, low profile look that should comfortably fit under your TV.