VIZIO SmartCast
VIZIO SmartCast

VIZIO SmartCast SB3851 5.1 Sound Bar System review

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In a day and age where you may discard the entirety of your paycheck to a soundbar, the 38-inch SmartCast SB3851 of Vizio is a breath of fresh air.

VIZIO SmartCast

For around $299 (about Number240, AU$395), the SB3851 comes with a decent-sized pub, a wireless subwoofer and two satellite speakers for about up to a Blu-ray player.

It may not offer the Hi-Res badge that the soundbars of Sony include or provide objective-based surround sound like Dolby Atmos or DTS: X but, for the price, the SB3851 is tough to beat.


So far as soundbars proceed, the SB3851 is more or less right in the center concerning size. At 38 inches end, it makes for the perfect companion for any size TV. It fits since it does beneath a 49-inch TV — its versatility is one of its numerous strengths.

Another strengths, design-wise, are. The SB3851 comes with the cables required to hook them up, and they’re able to sit surprisingly due to the ample-sized cord far from the subwoofer.

VIZIO SmartCast 1

The the main soundbar share exactly the exact same basic-but-classy design scheme of black and silver. While the ends are capped in silver with a VIZIO logo etched into the middle the body of the speaker is covered in a fabric mesh. It’s simplistic to be sure, however the best designs are the most ones.

Apart from both satellite speaker cables, in the box you’ll also discover a remote control, a stereo RCA to 3.5mm cable, a 3.5mm to 3.5millimeter cable, a coaxial cable, an HDMI cable, a digital optical cable and sufficient gear to wall mount the speaker, even if that’s something you’re into.

The wires, as you might anticipate, correspond to open ports on the the SB3851’s backside — there is HDMI in/out, digital coaxial In, auxiliary audio in, optical audio in and an ethernet port, just in case you want to hardwire it to your router.

Controlling the songs can be done in many of ways, either through the VIZIO SmartCast program or via the buttons across the top of the speaker — that include power on, Bluetooth, volume up and down and supply buttons — through the remote. Where we run in our first snag with VIZIO soundbar it is here — beyond controls, the VIZIO program adds nothing. In the program there’s a music department, for example, that less is restricted to content from iHeartRadio and Vadio.

The system appears to make sense for TV and movie lovers who have assumingly purchased one VIZIO SmartCast TVs. But for a music lover, then there’s no reason for the program.

The system seems to make sense for TV and movie enthusiasts that have purchased one VIZIO’s excellent SmartCast TVs. However there’s almost no purpose for the app.


There is two approaches to view performance — relative or universal.
It’s a shallow soundstage, and distort and sound begins to crackle at higher volumes. Audio from VIZIO 38-inch ‘pub is accurate and quite clear, but compared to some of the higher end equipment from Klipsch and Yamaha, it’s not anywhere near the top of the pack.

VIZIO SmartCast 2

But these soundbars, the ones with immaculate mids and highs and room-shaking lows, those prices hundreds of dollars more, occasionally thousands.
Compared soundbars in its own class, however, the SB3851 has been well-performing setup that manages all types from rock and rap to extreme action scenes, with ease. Moreover, if I had to nail one highlight for the SB3851 it’d be how the soundbar is in everything. Mids and highs shine through bright enough over a bass that is controlledguitar. Little details are missing here and there, and also the bass feels a bit more passive than I would like it to be, but you can feed the soundbar of VIZIO any kind of articles and come away at least moderately pleased with what you hear.

If you’re looking for hard specs, the only ones provided by VIZIO are the soundbar itself comprises 2 2.75″ full range drivers (one for each channel), one 2.75″ driver to the center channel, two 2.5″ high-efficiency drivers for each satellite and a 5″ subwoofer driver. There’s no reference of codec support, although the system’s frequency response is 50-20KHz — although it does support DTS Studio Sound Dolby Digital and DTS TruVolume technology.

We liked

Check any other major manufacturer and you would be hardpressed to find a 38-inch soundbar, two satellite speakers and a wireless subwoofer — together with built-in Google Cast abilities — for $299 (about #240, AU$395). I am not saying I am sure they exist somewhere and it’s hopeless, but finding them which VIZIO’s SB3851 offers is 1 heck of a task.

We disliked

While I label the soundbar as a, you will find others who’d claim the soundbar lacks refinement in the sound department. As everything can be handled by it, doesn’t mean that it manages everything . Details are currently going to get lost in the transition and highs, lows and mids won’t appear as good here as they would end equipment.

Final verdict

In the budget audio category, the 38-inch soundbar of VIZIO is king. Hardware producers are even fewer, and ambitious in selling you a soundbar, a subwoofer and two satellite speakers for under $ 300 could pack in the half-dozen cables needed to connect the system that is sound to all of your devices.

VIZIO SmartCast 3

That said, performance-wise the SB3851 leaves a lot to be desired. It never sounds obvious or as sharp as a soundbar should even though it can push the envelope in terms of volume. The SB3851 is best bought as an inexpensive replacement to the awful-sounding speakers that come built into your TV. This soundbar isn’t going to win any fans from the audiophile crowd, but I can’t help but adore VIZIO’s latest ‘bar.

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