CNET First Look
Samsung N550 sound bar a solid investmentThe Samsung HW-N550 offers a big sound and a decent feature set for an affordable price.
If you're buying a sound bar, it doesn't usually pay off to spend a whole lot. At $350, the Samsung HWN 550 is at the limit of what I'd personally spend. And it offers a decent amount of performance for the money. It also comes with a nice complement of features, including HDMI in and out, Bluetooth and a wireless subwoofer. You also get an optical connection, 3.5 milimeter artillery, and the ability to stream your Samsung TV over Bluetooth. The look is understated with a brushed plastic top and an angular set of end pieces. The controls on one end are push buttons as opposed to capacity of touch of the more expensive one. The remote control is quite lovely, with a satin finish, and it offers a decent amount of functionality. Like other Samsungs we've seen recently, the display on the unit itself is a little hard to read as it pokes through the metal grille. Sound quality is what we're here for and based on its own merits, the sound is very even handed. It can play movies and music equally well, and the sub is able to go quite deep. While the stand-by has a wide effect mode, it doesn't really work that well. You need to add the optional surround speakers for $130 if you want better envelopment. Compared against the cheaper Yamaha YAS-207 though, is no contest. That one does an amazing job of simulating the surround sound, and also performs better with movies. Unless you specifically need the Samsung TV streaming of the N550, the Yamaha is a more sensible buy.