If all you want is a noticeable improvement over your TVs built-in speakers for a low price the Samsung HW-J250 fits the bill. At a list price of only $130, it brings a decent, powerful sound that is clearly better than anything you'd hear coming out of a TV. Just remember, for a list price that is only $70 more you can get the Yamaha YAS-108, which can really bring your sound experience to the next level.
Samsung HW-J250 Review
Pros: Inexpensive, sounds better than most TVs
Cons: Sound not as immersive as other models
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Samsung HW-J250 meets the one basic qualification of a good soundbar: it sounds better than the built-in speakers on a TV. It also does this at a very low price, but by spending a bit more you can get even better sound.
The Samsung HW-J250 was one of the lowest overall scorers in our testing.
In the sections below we discuss the Samsung HW-J250's performance in all of the different tests we ran. We arrived at the overall score by combining all of those performances.
The Samsung HW-J250 received the fairly low score of 4 out of 10 in our sound quality testing. While most of the speakers we tested sounded significantly better than the Samsung HW-J250, it still sounds significantly better than built-in TV speakers. We noticed a significant improvement in bass power and overall clarity when we plugged it into our testing TV. However, when listening to it side-by-side with other soundbars it was comparatively muffled and less immersive. You'll have to decide if you're satisfied with a small improvement in sound for a low price, or are willing to spend a bit more to get a big improvement.
Ease of Use
We found the Samsung HW-J250 to be fairly easy to use. It earned a score of 7 out of 10 in our ease of use testing. Initial setup took us less than 5 minutes, and the remote provides a user-friendly interface. We also had no issues getting Bluetooth devices to talk to the soundbar, and Bluetooth connections never got interrupted. Our only small complaint was with the buttons on the soundbar itself. We liked having these buttons in case the remote control gets displaced, but we found them to be somewhat unresponsive. We often had to press a button multiple times to get it to do something.
The Samsung HW-J250 was one of the worst scorers in our sound customization testing, earning a 4 out of 10. It does not offer any sort of general EQ adjustment. What it does offer are a few preset sound modes, including voice, sports, and 3D sound plus modes. The 3D sound plus mode attempts to enhance surround sound type effects, but we didn't notice any big difference when using it.
The Samsung HW-J250 opts for a very simple and elegant design, and thus earned a good score of 7 out of 10 in our design/style metric. We really liked the all-black exterior with simple, right angles. It's definitely a classic, unassuming design that will fit right in with most living room decors. Our only small complaint was that the plastic construction did look a little flimsy compared to other models, but this was only really apparent upon close inspection.
The Samsung HW-J250 occupies a slightly odd space value wise. It is the most inexpensive soundbar we would ever consider buying. That is to say, it's the most inexpensive soundbar we tested that sounds significantly better than built-in TV speakers. However, the Samsung HW-J250 lists at $130. For just $70 more you can get the Yamaha YAS-108, which sound a great deal better. So the Samsung HW-J250 only makes sense if your budget ceiling is less than $200.
The Samsung HW-J250 delivers better sound than an average TV, but many soundbars that cost just a bit more sound much better.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata