VIZIO is a popular name to think about if you are living in the US and you want a reasonably good TV for the cheap. Although the company continues to advertise itself as an HDTV company, other products are being sold under the VIZIO brand as well. This includes home audio equipment and more recently, computers and tablets. VIZIO’s first shot at the computer industry was met with some criticism and that is understandable for the newcomer but VIZIO has been making sound bars in the past. The VIZIO S4221W-C4 is part of the 2013 series of sound bar products serving as the largest 2.1-channel sound bar in VIZIO’s current portfolio but manages to be $50 cheaper than most of the mainstream competition.
The design of the S4221W-C4 goes for the trapezoidal prism shape giving this sound bar an edgy appearance. Other than that, the design looks pretty plain and should look great with any standard black HDTV. A wireless subwoofer is included as well which makes this sound bar a bit better than the sound bars that have built-in subwoofers.
VIZIO is pretty generous for including just about all the essentials to set up the VIZIO S4221W-C4. The package comes with a pair of power cables, a stereo RCA to 3.5mm cable, coaxial audio cable and digital optical cable. If you want to mount the sound bar to the wall, a wall mount template is included to get the job down. The only other parts that are involved with the mounting is the 2 wall mount screws and 2 sound bar wall mount brackets. You can use the cable management tie as well so the back of your home theater system doesn’t look so messy. The included remote control already comes with batteries which is always nice.
The back of the sound bar features a decent selection of ports including a USB port, optical audio in, coaxial in and 2 analog audio in ports. You can find the buttons on side portion of the sound bar. This lets you turn the sound bar on or off, adjust the volume, change the input and use the Bluetooth connectivity.
Since the S4221W-C4 targets budget crowds, you cannot really expect much on the feature side of things. But the one big feature that this sound bar has is something that you won’t find in some of the other available sound bars. That feature is Bluetooth connectivity and it really adds value to the sound bar. Bluetooth allows you to connect virtually any mobile device that also has Bluetooth. Every high-end smartphone, tablet and laptop has it and plenty of inexpensive feature phones and MP3 players have them as well. Pairing is as simple as holding the Bluetooth input button once you made your portable device discoverable. Once paired, anything that you play using your mobile device will be played back on the sound bar as well. The TV doesn’t even have to be turned on for this feature to function.
As far as setting up the sound bar goes, you won’t have to worry about any complicated user interface. The subwoofer, for instance, wirelessly communicates with the sound bar so all you basically have to do is switch the subwoofer on after plugging it in. Once you made the other necessary connections and properly positioned the VIZIO S4221W-C4, you can enjoy the sound experience. The main interface actually resides on the remote control and the minimal set of buttons are easy to understand. There is a small screen on the remote that shows basic status messages.
Aside from changing the input, the main things that you can do with the remote control involve turning on or off the various modes the S4221W-C4 support. You may configure your VIZIO TV remote control to work with the sound bar if you have one by turning the VZtvRmt feature on. There is also an Eco Power function that automatically shuts down the sound bar if no audio is detected.
The VIZIO S4221W-C4 works rather well for watching movies, playing games and listening to music. You can slightly improve the audio quality for certain instances if you turn on the DTS TruSurround feature which creates a virtual surround sound environment. By turning on the Night Mode, bass frequencies are lowered so you can better hear the dialogue of your favorite movies or shows without distracting other people. Finally, the subwoofer levels can be adjusted to your liking.
Overall, you can find some better sounding sound bars if you are willing to pay $300 but what matters most for the S4221W-C4 is that it sounds better than the average built-in TV speakers. At the same time, you are essentially paying for a fairly large Bluetooth speaker with its own subwoofer for $249. With that price, the VIZIO S4221W-C4 is nice to get especially if you have a VIZIO TV.