Electronics manufacturers are beginning to see soundbars as the next category of device that should come with built-in smarts. The latest brand to pursue this strategy is Anker, which has just started taking pre-orders for its $230 Nebula Soundbar — Fire TV Edition, a soundbar that delivers 100 watts of power while enabling any HDMI-equipped TV with Amazon’s Fire TV streaming media software and its Alexa voice assistant.
On the video side of things, the Nebula Sounbdar impresses, with 4K resolution at up to 60 frames per second, and every major flavor of HDR including HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. In fact, this may just be the first soundbar you can buy with Dolby Vision built-in. Around the back of the soundbar, you’ll find a good array of connection ports including an auxiliary-in, USB, HDMI-ARC, and optical input.
You get a full Fire TV remote, including a dedicated voice button that lets you direct Alexa to do your bidding. All of the usual Fire TV commands are available, such as “Watch The Expanse,” or “Search for Matt Damon,” but it’s also a full Alexa device, so smart home commands will work too.
Anker calls the Nebula Soundbar a 2.1 speaker, claiming that the two built-in subwoofers let it deliver the kind of “intense low frequencies” typically associated with home theater sound systems. We’re not sure that any soundbar can deliver true 2.1 sound without an accompanying — and separate — subwoofer, but if the Nebula indeed pulls off this trick, perhaps it should describe it as a 2.2 system. We’ll let you know once we have a chance to review it.
Surprisingly, for a soundbar, Anker hasn’t said if the Nebula supports any of Dolby’s audio formats. The absence of Dolby Atmos isn’t unusual for a soundbar at this price, but Anker doesn’t list Dolby Audio at all, which could mean this is simply a stereo speaker with enhanced bass.
The Nebula Soundbar is the first soundbar to include Amazon’s Fire TV platform, but we suspect it won’t be the last. Competition in this space is heating up. Roku recently launched its own $180 Smart Soundbar and partnered with Walmart to create a less-expensive version under the retailer’s Onn. brand.
Earlier this year, JBL released its $400 Link Bar, which runs the Android TV operating system and has Google Assistant built-in.
If the Anker Nebula Soundbar — Fire TV Edition sounds like it deserves a home under your TV, you can pre-order it now on Amazon.com for delivery starting on November 21.
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