An alternative to a 2.1 Sound Bar with separate sub-woofer from Sony in the form of a 'Sound Base' - a rectangular black box which your TV sits on. Built in to the Sound Base is a sub-woofer and dual speakers in a single unit.
Sony argue that the Sound Base offers a neater solution to improving TV sound compared to a Sound Bar with no need for a sub-woofer. This is certainly the case if you have space under your TV and don't mind the additional height placing it on the Sound Base results in. However, I was surprised at the overall size (and particularly the length) of the Sound Base at 72cm long, 31cm deep and, having less impact, just over 7cm high. It looks OK with a 42" TV but might look a little strange with a smaller set. I guess if you're buying a compact 2.1 system you need to chose where a sub-woofer is best-placed for you - in a unit under the TV or as a separate box.
Despite having one of the latests Sony TVs which should work with the Sound Base allowing both to be turned on and off using a single remote control and the Sound Base to work seamlessly with the TV BRAVIA Sync resolutely refused to work which means the separate Sound Base remote control has to be used which is a little inconvenient. Unfortunately, so far phone calls and e-mails to Sony Support have failed to resolve the issue.
Another option is to use your phone or tablet to control the Sound Base and, if you wish, output music on the phone to the Sound Base. I have a Sony Xperia Z1 phone and a Z2 Tablet. Both paired with the Sound Bar easily - helped by the NFC option built into the Sound Base which means you don't have to fiddle with the connection settings of your phone/tablet if that also has a Near Field Communication chip built-in - Sony like NFC technology at the moment. The phone-based remote is rather better than the block-like remote that comes with the Sound Base. Using the supplied remote to select sound options - such as night-playing which reduces base, or settings fro playing a film - can be slightly tedious using the Sony remote. Less so with the phone.
In terms of sound quality, well I think it's pretty good. If anything there's too much bass perhaps indicating that the sub-woofer in the Base is working very well indeed. Music sounds especially good and there are pre-set options for this as well as sport, movies, the nighttime setting mentioned above, clear audio to make voices easier to pick out and more. The settings are also adjustable. So the sound goes about as far as the constraints of the number of speakers allow.
Overall the Sound Base is an interesting and relatively new concept. The Bose ® Solo TV Sound System
comes closest to offering the same functionality as Sony's offering. I'd certainly looks at this as well. I think the overall message is that you need a sub-wooffer somewhere in your sound system to get decent TV sound - it's really a question of where suits you best.
I would have given the system four stars (one dropped because to get surround sound you really need a 5.1 system, good as the sound is). However, the unit has more impact under the TV than I anticipated, and the lack of BRAVIA Sync is an annoyance, and a matter Sony should be able to resolve.