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Sound Advice: Sound bars a solution for flat-screen TVs

  • Article by: DON LINDICH
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • October 26, 2012 - 1:48 PM

Q I have recently upgraded my TV from an old rear projection box to a 55-inch Samsung flat panel and the sound quality has greatly dropped. I am not an audiophile so I do not need a top-of-the-line system. What I am looking for is a reasonable sound bar with a wireless subwoofer that won't break the bank. Less than $200 would be wonderful but I am not sure if that is achievable.

A Less than $200 with a wireless subwoofer is stretching it, but for a tiny bit more you can get something with a wireless subwoofer that sounds good, too.

My first recommendation is the Sony HT-CT150 3D Sound Bar System. It has received good reviews from journalists and consumers and can be found discounted to $209.

The Samsung HW-E450 is worth considering, as well. It can be found for $215, and since it is a Samsung the remote will work your TV without the need to fuss with remote codes to synchronize the TV and remote.

The poor sound of today's flat panel TVs has had many consumers searching for solutions, and sound bars are a great choice for the sound quality and form factor. I will have a follow-up on higher-end options in an upcoming column.

Micro USB leads the charge

Q I purchased the Oontz Bluetooth speaker and have a question about recharging. I would prefer to charge it using an adapter that plugs into any electrical outlet. (I never seem to be on the same floor as my iMac when I need to recharge.) The instructions say to use a USB Power adapter. Where and what do I buy?

A The Oontz uses a Micro USB connection. You can get a Micro USB AC charger for about $5 online. You can also purchase an AC USB adapter that plugs into the wall and provides a powered USB outlet, which can be used with the cable that came with your Oontz.

Micro USB is not to be confused with Mini USB, the connection used on many Android smartphones. If you already have a Mini USB charger you can buy a Mini USB to Micro USB adapter for about $5 and use it to charge your Oontz as well as your phone. Given that you can buy a complete charger for about the same amount, you may want to just get a second charger so you can charge both devices at the same time. If portability is the issue, get the adapter. Of course, for only $10 you may want to get both and have all the bases covered.

You may already have a charger that works with Micro USB. For example, many cellphones use Micro USB for charging. I use an old cellphone charger from a Motorola RAZR flip phone to charge my Oontz and my portable navigation system, which also uses Micro USB connection. If you have any old cellphone chargers you may want to check and see if they are compatible. I'd bet a friend or family member has an old cellphone charger lying around that happens to use Micro USB.

Send questions to donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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