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    Anker Nebula Soundbar—Fire TV Edition review: Great Fire TV and Alexa functionality, but so-so sound

    For these seeking to improve their TV’s audio and media-streaming capabilities with out coping with a nest of cables and dongles, an all-in-one soundbar like Anker’s Nebula Soundbar—Fire TV Edition is definitely interesting. This 2.1-channel soundbar boasts a built-in subwoofer, baked-in Fire TV interface, and Alexa voice management. You can enhance your TV’s audio and stream video excessive by connecting only one element to your TV utilizing a single cable.

    The Nebula is just like the $180 Roku Smart Soundbar in that respect, however whereas we love the comfort of the its video streaming and Alexa capabilities, its iffy audio efficiency—whereas definitely superior to that of most built-in TV audio system—leaves one thing to be desired.

    This assessment is a part of TechHive’s protection of the best soundbars, the place you’ll discover critiques of competing merchandise, plus a purchaser’s information to the options it’s best to think about when procuring.

    Configuration

    While it lacks a discrete subwoofer, the Nebula Soundbar—Fire TV Edition Anker nonetheless payments this soundbar as a 2.1-channel system by advantage of its two built-in 3-inch woofers and bass ports on all sides, whereas two 1.5-inch full-range drivers provide the left and proper channels. There are not any up-firing drivers, which implies no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X assist, though (as we’ll cowl in a bit), the Nebula does have a (first rate) digital encompass mode.

    It’s additionally value noting that for now, you’ll be able to’t improve the Nebula to a 5.1-channel system by including encompass audio system, though an Anker rep didn’t rule out the opportunity of a wi-fi encompass package sooner or later. Roku provides an optionally available wi-fi subwoofer for its system, and you should use Roku’s Wireless TV Speakers as encompass channels.

    Measuring 36.2 x 4.5 x 2.4 inches and weighing in at a bit greater than seven kilos, the fabric-covered Nebula has a rounded design and it’s pretty simple to hold, regardless of its bulk. The soundbar is brief sufficient that you would be able to plunk it down in entrance of most TVs with out blocking the underside of the display, even within the case of my 55-inch LG C9 OLED TV (which has an unusually low-slung show stand). You might additionally mount the soundbar on a wall utilizing the 4 mounting holes within the backside of the unit; a bracket, screws, and a mounting information are included.

    Inputs and outputs

    A center cavity behind the Nebula provides only a trio of inputs: a 3.5mm analog audio enter, an HDMI port with ARC (audio return channel) assist, and an optical (Toslink) digital audio enter. There’s additionally a USB Type-A port right here, however it’s just for putting in firmware updates, not for taking part in music recordsdata saved on a thumb drive.

    Ben Patterson/IDG

    The Nebula soundbar options inputs for HDMI (ARC), optical, and analog cables, whereas the USB port is just for servicing the soundbar.

    That single HDMI port is a tad stingy. Better soundbars include a minimum of a few them, so that you don’t must depend on your TV having a number of and supporting ARC to be able to join a couple of supply (e.g., a gaming console along with a cable or satellite tv for pc TV set-top field and maybe a Blu-ray participant, as an illustration). And because the Nebula doesn’t assist the higher-bandwidth eARC (an admittedly unusual characteristic on soundbars), the Nebula can’t play again lossless audio codecs equivalent to Dolby True-HD or DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks.

    While the dearth of eARC assist limits your audio choices, the soundbar does assist 4K/HDR passthrough, together with Dolby Vision, which implies you’ll be capable of watch streaming 4K HDR motion pictures and exhibits from the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Netflix.

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