Review: Vizio 42-inch 5.1 Home Theater System

There’s nothing like coming home after a tough day, cracking a brew, and cranking up your home theater system. Maybe it’s Major League Baseball. Maybe it’s analyzing Game of Thrones episodes. (But let’s be real: not the Red Wedding. Not again.) Or maybe it’s musing the intellectual profundity of the Michael Bay catalog. However you choose to decompress, there’s one thing everyone wants: booming, sparkling audio that’s easy to install and won’t break your bank account.

And unless you have a surplus of both money and space, you probably want a sound bar.

But, as we’ve said before, investing in a sound bar is an act of concession. Sure, you eliminate messy cord-clutter and gain a large, attractive gadget that looks slick sitting in front of your Tyrano-vision sized TV. But this comes at a sonorous cost. No matter how advanced the tech gets, a sound bar can’t quite match the audio performance of a 5.1 setup. But now Vizio offers something of a workaround with this home theater package.

The idea is simple: Vizio takes a three-channel sound bar plus a wireless subwoofer and adds a pair of get-gadget rear channel speakers. These rear channels plug directly into the subwoofer, which you then ostensibly stash behind the couch. Voilà! The performance of a 5.1 system without a bunch of damn cords running everywhere.

Setting the unit up does not take long. The 42-inch sound bar links to the subwoofer via Bluetooth and comes preconnected so there’s no need to futz around with a bunch of pairing kabuki. Color-coded wires help you connect the correct speakers to the proper ports. All told, it takes under 10 minutes to get things up and running.

And once it started running, I was initially impressed. To test out the system’s cinematic chops, I queued up HBO Go and turned on some particularly raucous episodes of Game of Thrones. As the Battle of Blackwater raged, I heard all kinds of detail from the rear channels — swords clanging, men screaming as they were being burned to death. I half expected the Hound to burst into the living room and cut someone in half.

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