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Important Specs Overview
Speaker type: powered, sealed, 2 channel (soundbar); powered, front ported (subwoofer)
Continuous power handling: 15 W x 2 (soundbar, total); 30 W* (subwoofer)
Frequency response range: not specified
Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2, included remote
Max signal range: 75 ft
Warranty: 1 year
*When nominal/RMS power isn’t specified by manufacturer, we use an approximation of ~30% of the specified peak/dynamic power for comparison purposes.
Review And Discussion
Sony is mostly known for its ancillary a/v equipment and doesn’t currently produce a whole ton of speakers, but in recent years they’ve delved into the increasingly popular sound bar market and produced several soundbar systems. The HT CT290 is their currently cheapest, entry level 2.1 soundbar system, meaning it includes a 2 channel soundbar and an external subwoofer.
The claimed 300 W of total power is somewhat misleading – sometimes speaker companies deceptively add up the sum of the components and use peak power handling (can only last for infrequent short bursts) rather than the more pertinent continuous power handling spec, which is usually around 30-40 percent of peak power handling. After sifting through the product’s rather convoluted manual we were able to deduce that the actual power handling, quoted above, which seems much more realistic for a budget-tier soundbar.
While we won’t admonish the company, it’s usually not the greatest sign of a product’s quality when specs aren’t clearly specified or are fudged to be misleading. And speaking of which, another issue is that there’s apparently no response range specified – this is mostly pertinent for the subwoofer, to get an idea of how well it can actually fully reproduce the bass.
The HT CT290 is all inclusive, meaning it’s ready to plug in and go right out of the box. The bar is wide, but light, with the option to wall-mount it (mount hardware is also included). It also has a USB input, but we don’t know why anyone would ever try to finagle a thumb drive into the back where it is when you can just sync a source via Bluetooth. Also comes with a remote, but that will need batteries. The 1 year warranty is pretty bare minimum, but fairly standard for budget soundbars.
Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
We never like it when companies seem to fudge specs, and the HT CT290 would have definitely been a hard pass at its original price – you could get actual speakers which would be far more performant. However, despite the HT CT290 not being all that old, it’s been significantly discounted to the realm of where many of the popular VIZIO sound bars reside.
So, if you’re looking for a simple and easy way to bump default TV speakers up to being sufficient, for regular TV watching basically, the HT CT290 is currently a solid choice. If you’re unsure between this and some of the equally popular VIZIO or Samsung bars, it’s probably just going to come down to a listening test and/or the best deal at the time.
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However, if you’re looking for a truly immersive home theater or musical listening experience, then we’d recommend opting for a traditional 2.1 system with passive speakers and a receiver – the starting price will be higher but you’ll ultimately get the most value for your dollar, and you’ll have maximal ability to upgrade components in the future.