Pros Without prior experience with soundbars, to me it has great sound (don't know what some people are complaining about in the reviews??). My size of TV it doesn't block IR receiver. Pairs nicely with Vizio TV's.
Cons For some, the lag when first turning TV on. For me, the sound increases too much at lower levels. It is hard to find that happy medium when turning the volume up. At level 2 for some shows the center is too low, but at level 2.5 or 3 it is too loud.
Summary I have never owned a soundbar before and wasn't quite sure where to start. Having a technology background I do know that it can be beneficial to stay with the same brand for multiple pieces of equipment. I have a Vizio 55" 3D T.V., so I decided to compare Vizio soundbars. My decision was down to two models, this one and the VHT 510. I paid $176 out of pocket for this one compared to what would have been $65 out of pocket for the VHT 510.Edit:
I will admit I was hesitant to buy this according to some of the reviews. I was worried about sound cutting out, delay in initial sound coming from pausing, etc. When I compared this to the 510 my biggest concern was that the model I was going to buy would not have the bugs fixed in the light issues (510). Spending the little extra to me was worth not worrying about faulty lights.
A. So far I have only noticed the soundbar not having sound when I first turn the tv on. I have to hit the volume button to "wake up" the soundbar. I don't think you should have to do this, but for me it isn't that annoying.
B. Same thing switching to a different input on the tv. For example, switching to my PS3, If it is not already on when I change inputs, the tv says it is waiting for an input signal. This sometimes causes the soundbar to go into a "sleep mode", and once again I have to hit the volume button to wake up the soundbar. Still, not a major issue but at times if you are an impatient person it could be annoying.
C. TV setup is great. Like I said, I paired it up with a Vizio TV, the tv remote controls the volume of the soundbar, but not the menu (changing inputs, speaker levels, etc.) I also have Directv which controls the soundbar as well. That was a nice surprise. I did turn my tv speakers off, but still see the volume levels change on the tv when using the Directv remote. For anyone else in the house who isn't used to looking at the soundbars lights for volume levels, it can cause them to turn the soundbar up extremely loud. This is part of the lag when turning the TV on and hitting the volume button to wake up the soundbar. Even though sound isn't coming out of it yet the soundbar receives the volume increase commands and raises the volume. When it does start playing the sound, it will play according to how much you increased/decreased the volume during its waking up process.
D. Bluetooth - I paired it to my Galaxy Note II and it worked perfectly fine. I had no troubles switching inputs or pairing it to do this.
E. Components - I was surprised to see that it came with the cables needed to hook it up immediately. It came with 1 optical, digital, aux cable. I only used the optical since I am using the TV to send sound from Directv and PS3 to the soundbar. Which this is where it helps to have a newer TV or one that is compatible with the soundbar. I set my audio output to PCM. I have had NO problems with sound at all for any of the devices that send Digital Output to the soundbar.
F. Set up - I took my time taking things out of the box and saw what was to be attached where before I started setting it up. I also had to do some minor alterations to my room to put the subwoofer where I wanted it to go. In all it took about 30-45 minutes (took my time). Once the speakers were set where I wanted them I adjusted the sound output to each using the remote. REMINDER - it DOES have to be pointing directly at the soundbar or it has trouble receiving commands from the remote.
G. I do have this in a "bedroom", so the sound can get loud at times. I only have mine turned up to level 2 to 2.5 (two bright dots or two bright dots and a 3rd half bright dot) and this can be loud at times. When I turn it to level 3 (3 bright dots) it is almost too loud for the area it is in. When nobody else is home I can turn it up pretty loud, and to me that is when I get my $$$'s worth.
Note: before buying, I recommend to check for it's best price at: Musicsystembuying.blogspot.com/p/vizio-s4251w-b4.html
Would I recommend this unit? YES!
Updated on Dec 17, 2013
I recommend to check for its best price at: checkingsoundbars.wordpress.com/vizio-s4251w-b4/
Pros Best of both worlds with sound bar/surround system
Wireless subwoofer makes setup in an apartment easy
Bluetooth connectivity is great
On-screen remote is a great feature
Cons Had trouble connecting digital coaxial cable to my TV
Remote screen needs backlighting
Summary I just got this system set up to a Vizio M3D550KDE TV. A couple observations:
I was planning on using the included digital coaxial audio cable to connect the sound bar to my TV. But I found that the plastic molding on the back of the TV has a lip near the audio-out jacks that blocks the thick plug on the coaxial cable from fully plugging into the TV. I ended up using the included digital optical cable instead. Not a big deal, but considering they're both Vizio devices, it would have been nice for them to work better together.
The remote with the screen is a great feature, but it's begging for some backlighting. In a well-lit room, it was difficult to see the text on the screen.
I'm not sure what's causing this, but when I rewind/fast-forward on my Fios DVR, there's a lag between when the video resumes and the audio comes back in. I never experienced this when I was just using my TV's audio.
Connecting my iPhone via Bluetooth to stream music from Pandora was very easy and a convenient way to quickly play music from my smartphone.
I'm far from being a sophisticated audio critic, but the sound quality meets my needs. I live in an apartment and wanted to upgrade my TV's built-in audio with surround sound, but I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on a more robust system that I wouldn't get to fully enjoy. I also didn't want the hassle and clutter of excessive cables. The wireless subwoofer, along with the price of the system (I even found a promo code online for 10% off), made this perfect for my living situation.
Pros Excellent for the price. (I got it at Costco for under 250). - creates solutions for a TV room like mine where running wires to the back of the room would have been a big undertaking. It's loud for the wattage. Easy to install.
Cons Remote could be easier to see, wish the instructions were more clear on its capabilities
Summary I wanted a simple solution ams this thing is it. I have it on the audio out of my 55 vizio TV and the output set to Dolby out. The bar uses trusurround and makes what seems to be a very very good faux 5.1 sound. I watched predator and revenge of the sith on this with excellent results with the surround sound. Bullets sizzled past me and light sabers swung around me. I cannot express how pleased I am with the performance for the price.
Pros The sound quality is great! The system is also a cinch to setup AND use. Translation, wife friendly lol
Cons Replace the included optical cable that comes with the unit. You will get even better sound.
Summary FIRST NOTE: DO THE FIRMWARE UPDATE! CHECK VIZIO WEBSITE
This is hands down the best value for a soundbar system. You will not be disappointed! It's ideal for any apartment sized to medium sized living room. It sounds great with both music and movies too. There is a firmware update that addresses loss of audio when switching between sources or during fast forwards. ALL ISSUES WERE CORRECTED AFTER FIRMWARE UPDATE! CNet and other reviewers stated that you might not get a true 5.1 mix if routing audio directly from your TV. However, I did not experience this problem, using a 2012 Samsung UN55D8000 model TV.
I tested the soundbar with World War Z, Battleship, Scandal (TV show) and the Clemson/Syracuse game. The system put out room filling sound with no detail left untouched. Especially the bass! Once you adjust the levels of the subwoofer and the surround sound speakers to your liking, it sounds spectacular. NO HYPE! Everything you need for the system comes in the box; however I'd recommend purchasing a better optical cord. The one supplied is very thin and extremely hard to disconnect from components. It also rendered significantly lower detail with the system. I heard a very noticeable difference when I used the cable I already owned. Overall, I'd seriously recommend this system for anyone looking for home theatre sound, but does not want to deal with the speaker wiring process that comes with traditional receiver and speaker systems.
I was seriously considering the Pioneer SP-SB23W Soundbar as well but did not get a chance to hear it. All of the Best Buy's in my areas had the unit, but did not have it connected for demonstration purposes. Definitely a win for Vizio, but I probably would have still purchased this one, due to the surround sound feature. They do, however push that Klipsch soundbar ($599) to almost every customer who will listen. It sounds great, but the Vizio sounds good too and definitely has a better value! I'm completely satisfied.
Pros Remote has LCD screen.
Remote control also controls Bluetooth device.
Rear satellite speakers for true surround sound.
Sleek minimal design and look.
Quality feel and weight to the product.
Easy to install.
Cons Remote LCD screen does not light up.
Remote signal must be clearly pointing in the direction of the sound bar.
Subwoofer and satellite speaker cables provided could be longer.
Summary I had gone into Best Buy to check out some sound bars to replace my cheezy cheap surround system.
From what Best Buy had on display to test, none of them met my standards in audio quality for the price range I as trying to stay under. The best product they had was a Harmon/Kardon sound bar, which doesn't include a remote, doesn't display any settings, but had great 2.1 sound.
After reading reviews, I had decided to make the purchase of the Vizio 5.1 system and went back to Best Buy to grab it.
Arriving home, I quickly unboxed the system and began to set it up. Within a few minutes, it was complete, and I was streaming music from my iPhone.
The sound was impressive, and for the price, it beat all the other sound bars I had been testing. (Samsung, Sony, Boston Acoustics, Yamaha, Toshiba.) The additional rear speakers really improves the quality and experience of the system, adding in that 5.1 sound I desired.
The system allows you to control the volume and settings from the remote that has been included. I was very impressed with the look and feel of the entire system, but was let down when the remote didn't light up. No biggie, I'm sure one I've programed my setting, I wouldn't need to mess with it much.
Compared to the Samsung and Sony sound bars that were right in this price range, the Vizio s4251w-b4 produces crisp and clear highs, warm mid tones and a great low end for a small-medium sized room, best suitable for apartment living rooms or large bedrooms. The subwoofer packs a punch for a 6" speaker, without any distortion, and keeps a clear, steady and warm low end that gives techno and drum and bass some life.
I was impressed that the control had all the setting features displayed on the LCD, and you control the setting based on the LED lights on the bottom left of the bar. Very neat, impressive minimalist design. Furthermore, the controller also changed the tracks on my iPhone while playing music.
For the price, this package would be hard not to pass. I own a 60" Samsung tv and not even Samsung could match the sound quality of this product, and I'd rather save $100-$200 than fork out the cash for a higher end sound bar without 5.1 surround sound.
I would highly recommend this product to friends and audiophiles alike. I've read reviews where some aren't as impressed with the quality of sounds as I was, but I'd argue that.
It's a simple package to setup, provides great sound quality, should be best used for apartment/condo living rooms or large bedrooms. Might even fit a large living room, too! Easy to setup and install, and it should match most of your new devices and meet your expectations.
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