Vizio's been in the sound bar game for a while now and it shows. The VHT215 is the company's latest sound bar and it bests its predecessors in just about every way. It's the first Vizio sound bar that actually looks good, with a slim, sleek cabinet and a glossy finish that doesn't look cheap. The included remote is one of the best we've used and it's packed with connectivity options, including two HDMI inputs. Sound quality is great out of the box, plus it's endlessly tweakable, with separate controls for bass, treble, and subwoofer volume. There's really little to complain about with the VHT215, except the fact that the Haier SBEV40-SLIM is just a little better and costs less. But the Vizio VHT215 deserves serious consideration, especially if you want to more control over your sound bar's sound.
Design: Thin with a truly great remote
The VHT215 looks considerably more refined than Vizio's previous sound bars. The front panel is dominated by a dark-gray speaker grille, with the rest of the cabinet sporting a glossy black finish. From the side, you can see the VHT215 is seriously slim at 1.9 inches deep. Metal feet jut out at an angle on the bottom, giving it an interesting look and, more importantly, providing a pretty solid base for the unit. There's a front-panel display (which not every sound bar has) and it gives helpful feedback like how loud the volume is or what input you're on. Overall, the Vizio VHT215 doesn't look quite as slick as the ultraslim Haier SBEV40-SLIM, but it's not far behind.
The wireless subwoofer has the same glossy black finish as the sound bar, although it looks a little tackier on the sub. It's reasonably compact and the wireless connectivity means you can place it pretty much anywhere in your living room, although it will typically sound best within 5 to 6 feet of the sound bar.
The included remote on the VHT215 is a real winner. Its minimalist design offers up buttons only for volume up/down, power, and mute. Even better, you can slide out a panel on the bottom to get a few more controls for adjusting the bass, treble, and subwoofer levels, plus select an input or choose a sound-processing mode like SRS TruSurround. It's really the perfect sound bar remote, although the build quality could be better.
Setup and features: Packed with jacks
The VHT215 is packed with connectivity for a sound bar, with two HDMI inputs, two digital audio inputs (coaxial and optical), and an analog minijack input. Even if you're planning to use your TV as a switcher, those extra inputs on the sound bar are nice in case you run out of inputs on your TV. The VHT215 also supports ARC (audio return channel), which means you can possibly simplify your cabling needs down to a single HDMI cable if your TV also supports ARC.