Sharp makes some of the biggest TVs in the world, so it's not surprising that the company is applying its plus-size worldview to sound bars.
The Sharp HT-SB60 ($320 street) is a startlingly long sound bar, designed to pair up with TVs 60 inches and up. That length may give it a more balanced look under your own personal Jumbotron, but it also allows the HT-SB60 to produce some fantastic sound quality, surpassing that of smaller sound bars in the same price range. There's also enough space on the back for two HDMI inputs, giving you more flexibility if your TV has a limited input selection.
The HT-SB60's size no doubt contributes to its excellent performance, but it's also its biggest flaw. It's a huge sound bar that just isn't going to nicely integrate into most living-room environments. The other major strike against it is the lack of built-in Bluetooth, so you can't wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices to the HT-SB60 out of the box.
If you're OK with the HT-SB60's shortcomings, it's a solid value at its current $320 street price, although considerably less so from retailers selling it at the full $500 list price. The Sharp HT-SB60 is one of the best-performing budget sound bars we've tested, but its size and lack of Bluetooth keep it from having wider appeal.
Design: Extremely long and incredibly thin
The HT-SB60 is longer than any other sound bar we've tested, hanging well off the edge of our sizable 43.5-inch TV cabinet. Again, the long, slender sound bar is designed to be paired up with TVs 60 inches and above, and it looked a little silly sitting under our 55-inch Sony XBR-55HX950.
The HT-SB60 may be ultralong, but it's small in every other way, measuring just 2.88 inches high and 2.69 inches deep. It wasn't even close to blocking our TV's remote sensor, like many sound bars do, which is good since it lacks the remote pass-through feature that's found on some competitors.
Size aside, the aesthetics of the system are underwhelming. It has a particularly plasticky look and feel -- even for a sound bar -- and the fake brushed-metal stripe isn't fooling anyone. The small front-panel display has an "alarm clock" vibe that also detracts from its style. The wireless subwoofer also has a generic quality, especially the cheap-feeling wood on the sides.
While the included remote gets some points for its considerable size, it's pretty lousy otherwise. At first glance it looks good -- a big volume rocker! -- except that rocker controls the volume of the TV, not the sound bar. I often found myself instinctively reaching for that rocker to adjust volume, only to realize my mistake when the sound bar wouldn't respond.
The rest of the controls are laid out awkwardly as well, including a mute button that's far from the rest of other volume controls. On the plus side, you do get access to subwoofer-level controls directly from the remote, which is handy for program-by-program tweaks.
Features: Dual HDMI inputs, but no Bluetooth
The HT-SB60 has more inputs than most, with two HDMI, one optical, and an analog minijack. You won't necessarily need the HDMI inputs if you use your TV to switch among devices, but the extra ports are nice in case you have more devices than inputs on your TV. (Although input switching could get a little confusing in that configuration, as you'll be juggling between your TV and sound bar remote.)