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Vizio takes on Sonos with Google Cast-friendly soundbars

Engadget Engadget 7/06/2016 Billy Steele
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Vizio teased us with Google Cast-friendly soundbars back in March, and now the audio gear is up for sale. The company had already put the tech inside its TVs, so allowing you to beam tunes and other audio from a mobile device or computer is a logical addition. The SmartCast lineup starts at $180 for a 38-inch 3.0 Sound Bar and goes up to $500 for the 44-inch 5.1 Sound Bar and 45-inch 5.1 Slim Sound Bar options at the top end. That 45-inch model is the flagship of the group, ticking the tape at 2 inches tall by 2 inches deep to work alongside a 47-inch display.

The 45-inch Slim Sound Bar also comes with two speakers for a surround sound setup and a 3-inch tall subwoofer that lies flat or stands vertically depending on where you want to put it. Inside, custom drivers crank out up to 104dB Sound Pressure Level (SPL) and 30 Hz of bass. There's also a dedicated center channel to ensure any spoken dialogue remains crisp and clear. Unfortunately, Vizio didn't go into much detail for the other models. All of the soundbars feature Google Cast though, making it easy to stream tunes from the library of apps that support the tech. There's also a Vizio SmartCast app that controls the gear from an Android or iOS device and pulls in audio content from all of the services you like to employ.

Like Sonos, Vizio's SmartCast soundbars feature WiFi connectivity for streaming directly from the internet and offer multi-room options if you own more than one model. In addition to better audio quality, that WiFi connection also means that calls, texts and other notifications won't interrupt whatever is playing over the speakers. Should the need arise, there's Bluetooth connectivity on Vizio's soundbars, too. The pricing is more affordable than Sonos and other Cast-friendly gear, arriving in a range of sizes to fit the TV you likely already have in your living room.

The 2.1 setups are a soundbar and wireless cube subwoofer while the 3.1 options include the wireless slim sub we mentioned above with the flagship unit. 5.1 options include both the flat subwoofer and a pair of satellite speakers in the pricing. If you're just after the soundbar itself, the 38-inch 3.0 option is the only one that doesn't come with a sub or extra speakers. Here's how the SmartCast lineup stacks up:

  • Vizio SmartCast 38-inch 3.0 Sound Bar: $180
  • Vizio SmartCast 38-inch 2.1 Sound Bar System: $220
  • Vizio SmartCast 38-inch 3.1 Sound Bar System: $270
  • Vizio SmartCast 38-inch 5.1 Sound Bar System: $300
  • Vizio SmartCast 40-inch 3.1 Slim Sound Bar System: $380
  • Vizio SmartCast 40-inc 5.1 Slim Sound Bar System: $430
  • Vizio SmartCast 45-inch 3.1 Sound Bar System: $450
  • Vizio SmartCast 44-inch 5.1 Sound Bar System: $500
  • Vizio SmartCast 45-inch 5.1 Slim Sound Bar System: $500
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