Belly Up To The Soundbar

LOS ANGELES — The days of home theaters with multiple stereo speakers spread around a room may be numbered, thanks to the soundbar.

The soundbar is a slender collection of speakers in a single housing that connects directly to the TV — so there's no worrying about stringing up speaker wire. The devices have been around for a while, but those in this year's crop are cheaper, more powerful and have the ability to connect to smartphones, tablets and PCs for streaming music.

Soundbar prices range from upwards of $1,400 for multiple speaker systems from Bose and Philips to $700 for the new Sonos Playbar and $100-$200 for lower-end units from Samsung and Sony.

This week, TV manufacturer Vizio began shipping its latest, the S4251w-B4. At $329, (street price, $299) it is $200 less than its previous model. It also has built-in Bluetooth to stream music into the living room from a smartphone, tablet or PC.

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