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CNET First Look
JVC TH-BA1VC's TH-BA1 sound bar home theater system is affordable, easy to use and sounds better-than-expected, but doesn't offer HDMI connectivity.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> Hi, I'm Matthew Moskovciak, senior associate editor at CNET.com and we're here with the JVC TH-BA1. Now this is a sound bar home theater system and what that means is that you've got one long speaker cabinet here. You got a subwoofer and that's it. You don't need an AV receiver. You plug everything directly into the main unit here. Now as you can see, the style is a little bland but it's pretty functional. It has an LCD display on the front and it's really simple with just, you know, red numbers, but it's nice because you'll be able to see, you know, how high the volume is and also what input you're on. Surprisingly a lot of the competing models don't have this and you're kind of navigating in the dark. Another nice element is that the subwoofer is wireless. Now this is already a pretty simple system but the fact that the sub is wireless is just one less wire that's gonna be running from the main unit out to the sub. Another aspect of the design that we really liked is the remote. It's just a little bit bigger than those credit card-style remotes that you'll see on some other products and that extra heft makes it feel nice in your hand. The button layout is really simple and you can do things like adjust the levels on both the subwoofer and the individual speakers on here and that's really nice to be to go on there and do that during the movie if say, you can't hear the dialogue or the base is getting too loud. If you look around back you'll see the connectivity. Now there are no video inputs on here. There are just two optical digital audio inputs plus an analog audio input. There's no HDMI input. So if you're looking for HDMI, you're gonna have to check out something else. Sony has the HDCT 100 which is about the same price and has HDMI connectivity so that's a good option if you're looking for HDMI inputs. If there's any weakness of the JVC system, it's probably the fact that there are not as many inputs as we'd like to see. In terms of sound quality, we're never expecting a lot out of a sound bar home theater system, but we were pleasantly surprised overall with the VJC. Like most sound bars, it does a passable job on movies and what surprised us is that it did okay with music too. It's not gonna replace is full 5.1 home theater system, but this is one of the better sound bars that we've heard, especially considering the price. Now the list price on this system is about $400, but we've seen it as low as $300 online. And when you consider how easy it is to use and the fact that it has a wireless sub, which a lot of other sound bar home theater systems don't have, we think that's a really good value. Although if you need HDMI connectivity, you are gonna have to look elsewhere. I'm Matthew Moskovciak with CNET.com and this is the JVC TH-BA1.