VIZIO S4251w-B4 Soundbar And Wireless Sub Reviewed

I'm beginning to believe that I might owe Vizio an apology. Somewhere in the miasmic swirl of mistaken notions and half-baked prejudices that exists inside my head, I've ignorantly clung to the idea that Vizio is near-single-handedly culpable for all the woes that plague the AV world. "They're nothing but mass-market whores who couldn't care less about picture or, especially, sound quality," I often mumbled to myself. Of course, it's easy to understand why I came to that conclusion when you learn that the majority of my experience with Vizio gear has come from quick glances at "stack 'em deep" displays in the zoo-like atmosphere of the local Sam's Club.

So I wasn't expecting much when Vizio's new S4251w-B4 soundbar and wireless subwoofer arrived in a golf-bag-shaped box. I'm not as phobic about soundbars as some people are, but a soundbar with surround speakers and a wireless subwoofer for $329.99 seems like a surefire recipe for disappointment. Still, I wanted it to sound good ... for a variety of reasons. For starters, there's the affordable price tag. Then there's the bit about the subwoofer being wireless. (Wires, however, are used to connect the surround speakers to the sub.) Although it's not earth-shatteringly unusual, the fact that the S4251w-B4 has an attractive, narrow profile and comes with brackets for wall-mounting is a big plus. An even bigger plus is the system's Bluetooth connectivity for pairing with smartphones, tablets and the like. But for me, the system's most compelling aspect is a remote control twofer: 1) the system comes with a small but powerful remote control that sports a very simple, intuitive button layout along with an LCD status/menu window at the top, and 2) the S4251w-B4 has the limited ability to learn the IR commands for volume up/down and mute from your TV's remote control. For me, remote controls can make or break a system, and too often the remote control is an aspect of a product that gets shortchanged in the design process. In this case, though, the remote control and the learning capability that comes with the S4251w-B4 looked quite promising.

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