At the $200 range, you start to see devices that offer flexible solutions and multiple applications. Often convenient and multi-faceted, this is a good range to get a device with a good build.
The devices we see with the highest consistent quality and largest amount of customer feedback are the LG Electronics LAS551H 35-inch ($175~), the Sony HT-CT60BT Bluetooth 37-inch ($160), and the Amazon Echo ($180~ and free shipping). At this price range, all sound bars offer diverse features as well as consistent quality and product longevity.
The LG and Sony
Both the LG and Sony devices have independent sub-woofers, with the LG offering a wireless one and Sony having a wired device. The LG Electronics LAS551H Sound Bar is somewhat more expensive, but with a little extra offers a large range of inputs ranging from HDMI, Optical, and a USB service inputs.
It’s a good modern device, with bluetooth connectivity for optional wire-free device handling, making it easier to organize everything around your TV. Customers heralded the device for its easy set-up and strong performance. A good device, and for the price, a good value and a safe pick.
The Sony device – Sony HT-CT60BT Bluetooth 37-inch, the cheapest of these offerings, has a lot of similar capacities as the LG device. Customers tended to have minor issues handling set-up, but it still has bluetooth and HDMI functionality. Because of this it offers a similar level of quality as the LG device.
Price ranges for used devices here are far more common too, and while it has a value by the $200~ price range it has many available used prices for closer to $100. However, the quality of those devices can never be guaranteed. Between the two here, the Sony device has less feedback and the LG device held up to more scrutiny, showing high marks with more consistency.
While Amazon’s device is the most expensive here at $180~, it comes with a plethora of application functionality and versatility. It has a quirky design, foregoing the bar and replacing it with a standing cylinder.
The Amazon Echo is not just a sound bar, and offers utilities that may either make it unnecessarily complicating for the regular user or a fantastic alternative and a pleasant surprise for the consumer just looking for a sound bar and getting far more.
Echo is optionally not controlled by a remote, but rather your voice. Using voice commands, the Echo can be hooked up to your home Wi-Fi to access audiobooks, Pandora, alarms, news, weather, traffic, sports, shopping, and music.
It also connects to devices that control your lights, if you have the compatibility. However, if you lack devices with bluetooth functionality Amazon Echo can be an un-intuitive hindrance. The most critical users often complained about the novelty of it wearing thin and not enjoying their interactions with the device.
Utility Versus Convention
Amazon Echo makes the lineup very particular competing against the LG and Sony. With a lot of compatible devices, Echo is a versatile sound system that offers immense utility and decimates the other offerings in terms of value and functionality.
However, for people with older devices that are only interested in accommodating their TV sound, LG and Sony both offer devices with solid foundations and customer satisfaction. It comes more down to personal preference between LG and Sony, whether you prefer a certain brand, and if you require a certain brand for compatibility.