Tech products, like so many other things, employ the adage "You get what you pay for." That, too, is true in the case of TaoTronics' 40-inch sound bar. (Also known as the TT-SK019.) For $90 you get a basic sound bar with a handful of inputs, and it'll sound marginally better than your televisions internal speakers.
Of course, your mileage will vary depending on just how bad your TV's internal speakers are — but let's be honest, they're probably not great.
And so that's where a relatively inexpensive sound bar can come in. In a room like, say, the bedroom, I don't necessarily need 12.1 surround sound with Dolby Atmos. (Note to spouse: It'd be awesome, though.) No, in the case of a secondary TV in a secondary room, audio may not be the top priority. And that's OK.
The TaoTronics SK019 has four inputs — RCA (analog stereo), optical and coax for wired options, and Bluetooth for the times that you just can't be tied down. (OK, probably for when you want to use your phone with it, but TV could work, too, so long as latency isn't an issue.)
The business end sports a bevy of speakers (and a total of two woofers, which are the only sort of technical specs you get), a small LCD screen that lets you know the volume level and which input you're on. A basic digital clock would have been great here, but to no avail. It sort of seems overkill, but at least it's not the sort of thing that's bright in an otherwise dark room. There also are physical buttons for power, mute and volume control. The included remote control (you're on your own for batteries) is basic as can be, with exactly the same controls. As none of this uses Wifi at all or is smart in any way, any third-party remote you want to use will have to rely on infrared signals, so keep that in mind. (that made hooking it into my Harmony setup a little fun, and laggy.l)
There's an optical audio cable, as well as a coax audio cable included in the box. I had a devil of a time getting the optical input to play nice with the optical output on my Vizio TV. (Including with my own optical cable.) And according to a smattering of reviews I'm not the only one. The analog inputs worked just fine though.
Once the sound bar is actually up and running, it works exactly as you'd expect a $90 sound bar to work. It sounds fine. Not great. Not explosive. Not room-filling. But it's the sort of thing you don't mind having attached to a TV that you just want to sound a little better. It's also the sort of inexpensive sound bar you wouldn't mind using with an outdoor TV, maybe.
Just don't expect too much, and you won't be disappointed.
The bottom line
This is the sort of sound bar you get when you want a $90 external audio option and not a $900 external audio option. And the sound quality is proportional to the price. It's probably better than what you'll get out of your TV's internal speakers, but it's not at the top of the options in this price range.
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