Maybe you don't have enough room, or perhaps you don't like the thought of ugly cables trailing everywhere: there are plenty of good reasons to not get lumbered with a full Home Cinema audio system. A sound bar could be the perfect alternative ...
With or without a sub-woofer?
Some sound bars come with a sub-woofer, and we agree that it's a good idea in theory. Without one, the bar itself will struggle to produce decent audio. The results is something of a hybrid: the system takes up less space, and including a woofer keeps the cost of the whole system down. Other bars don't include a sub-woofer, and some of them are more than capable of producing perfectly reasonable bass. It's up to you to decide whether or not to add another one yourself. It can only improve the quality of your experience-but your neighbours might not be as thrilled.
No beating a real Home Cinema system
The manufacturers use various strategies to reproduce the surround sound effect and they generally work pretty well, as long as they're reasonably well thought-out. But a single bar of speakers will never be able to do the same job as six or eight individually placed speakers in different parts of the room. Don't forget that when you're looking at sound bars, otherwise you might well find yourself disappointed when you settle down to watch-and listen-to your first film. In general, go for a sound bar if you need a compact solution, and a real 5.1 or 7.1 system if you really want to enjoy surround sound.