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Soundbars $499 Or Less: Harman International JBL Cinema SB200

There’s no shortage of soundbar brands and models as suppliers tap into demand from consumers who find most TV speakers woefully lacking. But Harman International said its JBL SB200 stands out from the crowd because it’s a “great performer at an outstanding value.” Said Christopher M. Dragon, Harman International’s senior director of marketing: “Its robust feature set is coupled with a Harman-engineered acoustic set and amplification … [that] free from the additional complexity of an outboard subwoofer, provides consumers with an easy solution to give that big picture, big sound.”

The compact SB200, intended for TVs that are 32 inches or larger, delivers “beautiful sound, free from distortion even at high listening levels, and a proprietary Simulated Surround technology that really works,” he said.

The soundbar, however, doesn’t just deliver a home theater-like experience without setting up multiple speakers around the living room or bedroom. It’s also designed to become the hub of your music experience, thanks largely to stereo Bluetooth technology that enables it to play back music streamed from any Bluetooth-equipped mobile device. The soundbar is also equipped with one optical digital input and one analog auxiliary input, enabling connection of a cable or satellite settopbox simultaneously with an audio source such as a CD player or networked digital music streamer.

Bluetooth, however, isn’t limited to music playback. JBL-dedicated apps turn your Apple or Android mobile device into a remote control. JBL also offers the JBL MusicFlow music player app to create playlists from a mobile device, and the Ampup app turns the soundbar into an alarm clock to wake consumers up to their favorite music.