Vizio Smartcast 36″ 5.1 Sound Bar Review: Impressive Quality

Vizio Smartcast 36" 5.1 Sound Bar \ Image: Vizio
Vizio Smartcast 36″ 5.1 Sound Bar \ Image: Vizio

In my previous review about the Vizio M50-D1 Google Chromecast built-in TV, I mentioned the sound quality was just fine on its own. After we had the TV for a few weeks, Vizio offered me a sample of their latest sound bar, the Smartcast 36″ 5.1 system, in exchange for a review. While I still agree that the M50-D1 can stand on its own two speakers, I have to amend it to say the addition of Vizio’s latest sound bar, the SB3651-E6, has made a world of difference in my family’s entertainment experience.

Once again, I’m not going to get all technical on you. You can read a more in-depth review with all the technical jargon you can shake a dictionary at on another site. This review will cover my experience and how a simple user looking to improve their home entertainment experience might enjoy this particular piece of technology.

In the box, you get the sound bar, wireless subwoofer, two satellite speakers to give you the surround sound experience, remote, and a 5′ HDMI cable for setup.

Sound bar side view \ Image: Vizio
Sound bar side view \ Image: Vizio

The sound bar has an Ethernet port, HDMI ARC, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, (1) standard HDMI port, and USB. The satellite speakers plug into the subwoofer so you don’t have a living room full of wires to hide.

And while the sound bar’s remote is just fine, the nice thing about having a Vizio Smartcast TV is we were able to sync it up with the app on our phones and the tablet remote that came with our TV.

What I like best about this particular model is it has the Chromecast built in and you don’t need your TV on to listen to your favorite Chromecast apps. My son has major focusing issues so being able to leave the TV off while listening to Pandora helps him not look up at the screen when the album covers dance across the screen.

Our movie of choice for the Vizio M50-D1 TV was Star Wars: A New Hope and it was the same for this one. The difference in the first scene where the Star Destroyer entered the screen took our breath away. The sound bar way outperformed our expectations and added a new level to the experience. The sound can reach an impressive 101 decibels (not that I suggest you try getting it up that high).

Besides the Chromecast built-in, another neat aspect of this sound bar is the ability to operate it with your Google Home device. Simply ask Google to play something on the sound bar and away you go. I don’t have a Google Home device to test this on out personally, but it makes me want to grab one to play with.

The one issue we have had, but is not the fault of the sound bar, is when you control the volume within an app, like Pandora, the decibels may jump a few more than you are comfortable with. It takes some playing with to see how a particular app responds to the sound bar or just remind yourself to use the sound bar remote to change the volume instead. According to Vizio, this is up to each app developer to determine how its app is programmed. With this being such a new model, I’m sure the apps will update to fix this issue in time.

After having the sound bar for a few weeks and getting to play with what it has to offer it’s hard to believe we listened to our movies and music without it. It was easy to set up, plays nice with our current TV, and since it works with the Smartcast app we have one less remote to keep track of. Overall, we are happy to add this one to our entertainment center.

The Vizio Smartcast 36″ 5.1 sound bar SB3651-E6 retails for $249.99 and can be purchased at your local Vizio dealer.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review sample.

Dakster Sullivan is a network administrator by day and a cosplayer by night. She loves discovering new books to read, tech to play with, and ways to express her herself. She has anxiety and depression and strives to educate others about these invisible illnesses.