Sharp’s HT-SB250 soundbar is aimed at those who want to add extra punch to movie and TV sound without committing to a space-hogging home cinema system. It sits discreetly below your TV, either attached to the wall or on your TV stand, and belts out 32W (RMS) of audio power from its stereo speakers and built-in subwoofer – a great deal more than most flatpanel TVs. There’s no disc drive and only a smattering of sockets, which makes it more of a TV add-on than a home entertainment hub, but the usefulness of simple soundbars like these shouldn’t be underestimated.
Naturally for a product designed with discretion in mind, the bodywork is sleek and compact. This particular model is best suited to TVs between 32 and 40in, and as such measures 851mm wide and 70mm deep. The black styling is attractive in an understated way and the curved corners are a subtle but significant aesthetic touch.
Head-on, all you can see is the speaker mesh and central control panel, with its bright blue LED display panel showing the selected input and volume when adjusted (it can be dimmed if it’s too distracting). There’s also a row of lights indicating the selected sound mode and a row of buttons below allowing you to adjust volume, sound mode and input.
It’s also worth mentioning that the HT-SB250’s build quality is first rate. The metal mesh and solid casing give it a reassuring weightiness that can only mean good things from a performance point of view.
On the back is a small recess that houses three sockets – a 3.5mm minijack input, stereo phono inputs and the DC power adapter port. The phono inputs are provided primarily for connection to a TV, although there’s no reason why you couldn’t hook up a Blu-ray player directly.
The HT-SB250’s simple purpose means there’s no need for fancy HDMI ports and the like, but some buyers might bemoan the lack of a digital audio input or two, or even a USB port for on-the-fly music playback. Still the two analogue inputs give you a choice of how to control the volume – either hook up your TV’s red/white analogue outputs to the soundbar’s corresponding inputs and use the Sharp’s own volume controls, or connect the TV’s headphone output to the 3.5mm minijack and use your TV’s volume. It’s a simple but effective solution.