Review Price £109.00
Sharp HT-SB200 Soundbar
Following in the footsteps of Samsung's HT-WS1G, B&W's Panorama and Crystal Audio's SSB-1, Sharp's first soundbar is designed to offer an upgrade from the soggy sound quality of most flatpanel TVs.
But improved audio isn't the only reason why these all-in-one sound systems are taking off in a big way - they're wall-mountable, which makes minimal demands on your living space, the lack of rear speakers keeps ugly cables to a minimum and their stylish, unimposing designs are guaranteed to get the green light from sceptical spouses.
At one end of the soundbar spectrum, you have models like the Philips HTS8100, which packs everything you need into a single box - DVD player, 5.1 sound decoding/amplification and speakers. At the other end are models like the Monitor Audio Radius One HD, which are simply three passive speakers shaped into a soundbar. The Sharp sits somewhere between the two, boasting 32W of built-in amplification and sound processing, but no on-board decoding.
It's a 2.1-channel system, housing full-range left and right speakers and four built-in subwoofers, but like most soundbars it features some token surround sound tech that claims to simulate the 5.1-channel experience. In this instance it's HDSS (High Definition Sound Standard) and SRS WOW HD.
The HT-SB200 is an unassuming unit, designed to blend in seamlessly with your TV rather than divert attention from it. That's not to say it's ugly - the black finish is actually smart and tasteful - but it lacks the upmarket sparkle of the Samsung HT-WS1G.
At 65mm high and 70mm deep, it's remarkably compact plus its 800mm width makes it best-suited for TVs between 32 and 42in. It doesn't have to be wall-mounted - four screw-in feet are supplied for table top placement on your AV rack, but wall-mounting is the most aesthetically pleasing option.