If you're looking for a home-theater solution that's easy to set up yet offers top-notch sound, the hybrid Vizio VHT510 is the leading option. It includes two discrete rear speakers that connect to the wireless subwoofer for a true surround-sound experience.
The only sound bar with true surround-sound capabilities. The VHT510 sounds very, very good for a fairly low-cost system, although reviewers say you might need to adjust the volume and play with surround mode options during especially raucous scenes or when deep-voiced men speak. Music also sounds very good in general. On top of that, the rear speakers create a truly expansive sound field that critics say makes other sound bars' simulated efforts pale in comparison. Setup is also a snap.
Do you want simplicity? Many people buy sound bars for their easy setup, something that the Vizio VHT510 lacks somewhat due to the need to string cords from the rear speakers to the wireless subwoofer. Once you've done that, however, the setup process is simple -- partly because the Vizio VHT510 only contains a single optical port and a stereo analog connection. The trade-off, reviewers say, is that the lack of inputs and the addition of proprietary rear speaker connections also limit the system's versatility. The sound bar and speakers themselves have a simple, unassuming look.
Few extras to be found. Aside from the addition of rear speakers and the onboard Dolby Digital and DTS decoding -- but not the Blu-ray-favored Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD -- the Vizio VHT510 has virtually no extra features to speak of.
A great bang for your buck. The Vizio VHT510 delivers solid sound in true surround sound and only costs $100 more than a budget sound-bar solution.
While some users may not want its extra speakers cluttering up the room, the Vizio VHT510 delivers a solid, truly immersive audio experience that no other sound bar offers, albeit at the price of connectivity and upgrade limitations.
CNET's review of the Vizio VHT510 sound-bar system is largely positive. The sound quality for the price and the ability to deliver a true surround-sound experience are praised. Limited connectivity and the added complexity of the rear speakers are negatives. The editors say the widely reported problem of front panel lights that fail has been addressed by the company.
Review: Vizio VHT510 Review, Matthew Moskovciak and Steve Guttenberg, June 15, 2011
2. Home Theater Magazine
Mark Fleischmann weighs in on every aspect of the Vizio VHT510 in this extensive three-page review. The system's setup, physical looks and feature list are all covered before he dives into a long hands-on testing session of both movies and music. He reports pretty good performance overall, especially on the musical front, though he says that the system is best used in a small room.
Review: Vizio VHT 510 Soundbar Speaker System, Mark Fleischmann, May 31, 2011
This review starts off with an in-depth look at the Vizio VHT510's technical specifications, physical design and dimensions before launching into performance test results. Will Greenwald reports that the extra speakers create a true feeling of immersion during action scenes in "Robocop." He's impressed by the system's low-end chops, but he reports that the sound bar itself can sound hollow during especially chest-rattling bursts of bass.
Review: Vizio VHT510 Surround Sound Home Theater With Wireless Subwoofer, Will Greenwald, April 27, 2011
In the midst of its coverage of all things home theater, ConsumerReports.org evaluates a handful of mostly still current sound bars, including the Vizio VHT510. Rankings and ratings are provided, but discussion is lacking.
Review: Home Theater Systems, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Robert Silva's two-page review of the Vizio VHT510 is one of the better critiques on the site. Silva lays out the system's specifications in exhaustive detail and describes deep hands-on testing, even going so far as to lay out which components -- such as the TV and DVD player -- he used to test the system. In the end, he calls the VHT510 "a nice, modest, home theater system [for] the budget conscious." (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Vizio VHT510 5.1 Channel Home Theater System with Wireless Subwoofer, Robert Silva, Not Dated
This insightful thread starts with a user named "Davyo" comparing the Vizio VHT510 against the Vizio VHT210 and the JVC TH-BA1 (since discontinued). He says that the JVC sound bar has been his go-to sound bar for a while now, but the Vizio VHT510 is the superior product. "The Vizio simply blew away the JVC BA1 when I played Star Trek," he reports. Several pages of lively discussion ensue.
Review: Vizio 510, Vizio 210, JVC BA1 Another Davyo Shoot-Out w/ Pictures, Contributors to AVSForum.com, Not Dated
The overall rating at Amazon.com for the Vizio VHT510 has been pulled down over the issue of an LED display that tended to fail in early units. Reports, including some posted here, say that the problem has now been addressed. Other than that, the reviews are positive overall, with ease of setup and sound quality singled out as two of the best aspects of the system.
Review: Vizio VHT510 5.1 Channel Home Theater System (Black), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of September 2012