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Vizio's new soundbars start at $179 and all come with Google Cast

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The battle with Sonos begins

Vizio's 2016 lineup of soundbars

Just as it's done with TVs over the last few months, Vizio is now bringing Google Cast to the soundbars that go beneath those sets. Today the company is announcing a new Sound Bar System lineup that starts out with a 38-inch 2.1 model and goes up to a 45-inch unit with 5.1 surround sound. That top-tier "Slim" one is designed for displays 47 inches and up. Here's how Vizio talks up what you get if you spend for the upper tier models:

VIZIO’s flagship offering was engineered with custom drivers, a center channel for enhanced dialogue clarity and a sleek profile that doesn’t sacrifice audio quality. Measuring 2" high and 2" deep, the 45" slim sound bar features rear satellite speakers and pumps up to 104dB Sound Pressure Level (SPL) 1 and 30 Hz of bass. The flagship model,along with the 40" 3.1, 40" 5.1 and 45" 3.1 slim sound bar configurations, features a sleek and compact 3" tall subwoofer, perfect for easy, out-of-the-way storage beneath or next to a sofa.

But the neat trick here is definitely that Google Cast integration, which will let you send audio from Spotify, Google Play Music, podcasts, or pretty much any other Cast-compatible app to any of these soundbars. Vizio says Cast, which streams over Wi-Fi, cuts out all the interruptions that can come when listening via Bluetooth with your phone. I'm not entirely clear whether that means these soundbars ship without Bluetooth period, so I've asked for clarification.

Putting Google Cast inside a speaker isn't really quite as unique as the reinvention of Vizio's TV interface we just witnessed. But both experiences now revolve around the technology and the company's SmartCast app, which can be used to control the soundbar from an Android or iOS device. (And also like the TVs, there's a basic physical remote in the box.)

Since Google Cast supports multi-room streaming, this is where you start to see Vizio's challenge to Sonos come into focus; a separate lineup of Bluetooth speakers is due this summer. If your content truly streams seamlessly between all this hardware — TVs, soundbars, and speakers — well, that'd make for a pretty convenient setup that could rival a system of Sonos speakers and the company's PlayBar. Here's the full lineup and pricing for what Vizio's offering:

  • 45-inch 5.1 Slim Sound Bar System $499.99
  • 44-inch 5.1 Sound Bar System $499.99
  • 45-inch 3.1 Sound Bar System $449.99
  • 40-inch 5.1 Slim Sound Bar System $429.99
  • 40-inch 3.1 Slim Sound Bar System $379.99
  • 38-inch 5.1 Sound Bar System $299.99
  • 38-inch 3.1 Sound Bar System $269.99
  • 38-inch 2.1 Sound Bar System $219.99
  • 38-inch 3.0 Sound Bar $179.99

They're all shipping to retailers now.


A look at Vizio Google Cast speakers