Soundbars are usually at the bottom of my reccomended lists because:
a) They have to be placed below the screen level, so the sound generates from below the position of the screen that you're watching (you are usually looking 3/4rds to the top)*
b) Tweeters and domes are really tiny, and tiny speakers lack power (important for the low end, aka explosions, bass etc) and definition (important for the high end, such as voices and many musical instruments)
c) The soundbar has to be positioned right under the tv, which means it will lack any proper sound stage (the sound comes come straight in front of you, no immersion)
d) They look pretty in a living room, so most makers charge a lot of money for what is essentially a center speaker with a different form factor
There are some soundbars that claim to be able to reproduce sound stage and direction of a standard 2.0 or 2.1 setup, and some come with a subwoofer like the Philips HTL5140 to cover the low end, but a 2.0 or 2.1 setup will often give you better results for both movies and music, while costing much less.
For a 2.0 setup buy a pair of powered speakers, the bigger the better (improved low end). Edifier r2700 or 2800 are massive and give you treble and bass control, so they can either be delicate or knock off the walls (5500nt). Edifier also has the r1900, similar product, much smaller and more living-room-friendly, cost is under 3000nt.
They both sound pretty good for their price.
They're powered speakers, so you don't need a receiver, just plug them in the Tv / pc and you're ready to go.
For a 2.1 setup there are a ton of options here in Taiwan. Edifier, Ozaki, Js, Kinyo, Tc Star and many others. They all have cheap sets that sound pretty "meh" and are only good on a small desk to use as computer speakers, but they also have bigger setups that can fill a room. To use as a speaker set for my laptop I bought an Ozaki Wr690, and it turned out to be overkill, I don't know how anyone could use it above 60% volume, considering that at 50% it fills a 10ping living room to the point that my wife asks me to lower volume. Not amazing for music (small tweeter, so the highs are a bit muffled), but that double subwoofer can really push out a lot of low end. The 2 speakers are relatively small and easily fit next to a tv/monitor, the subwoofer requires a lot more space. Pretty good set considering the price point.
There are many good reviews for Edifier 2.1 sets and they have many available, but I've only heard the smaller ones under 2000nt, so hard to compare.
Again, powered speakers, so no need for a receiver.
If you want to go full 5.1, or at least you want to have a setup that will allow you to go 5.1 in the future, you have 2 options:
1) Buy a second hand receiver, as long as it supports hdmi and 5.1 you're good to go (other features can be useful, but not necessary)
2) Look for a Yamaha/Denon/Pioneer dealer and see if you can get a good price on one of the entry level models.
An entry level receiver with cheap bookshelf speakers will kick any 2.0 out of the water, and you can add a subwoofer anytime you want.
My 4.1 in the computer room is:
Receiver: Denon S500BT
Front speakers: Tannoy Mercury V1i
Rear Speakers: Singleton X-5
Subwoofer: Ozaki WR690
I'm currently not using a center channel because I still have to find one that will match the tone of the Tannoy in a proper way (and the center from Tannoy is fairly expensive, so I'd prefer to find a good alternative). The 2 front speakers are roughly 3m away from each other so I use a "phantom center" setup.
The Ozaki subwoofer is good enough for me, at 40% it makes my computer table tremble and my wife shouts at me.
The SIngleton speakers were a leap of faith. Rear speaker during movies basically only handle BOOMB BAM BLAST and SWOOOOSH, so they don't need to match the front ones and don't need to be expensive. I found those Singletons on Ruten for 1800nt and I thought:"Eh, let's try, they're supposed to have slightly better low end than the Tannoy, hopefully they'll work fine as rears", and they work PERFECTLY as rears. Hell, if I wanted to make a cheap 5.1 setup I'd buy 4 of them to use both as front and rears. My guess is that for most people their low end is good enough but a subwoofer is always a welcome addition.
Absolutely avoid home theaters in a box and Logitech stuff, it's all insanely overpriced. HTIAB should be considered only if you find a really good deal and you don't think you'll ever plan to upgrade.http://www.tkec.com.tw/pt.aspx?cid=1131 ... pid=158609
At full price no way, but under 15000nt? Eh, that's not too bad. I'd take that over any soundbar, though I still prefer Receiver + bookshelf speakers OR large, powered speakers.
If you think that the 2 rear speakers will be annoying to place, then 2.0 or 2.1 is the way to go.
* = to further explain this, if you buy a 5.1 setup the center speaker will have the same issue of generating sound from below the ideal height, but having side and rear channels that generate sound all around you means that you are less likely to notice it. With a "phantom center" setup the sound is generated exclusively from the side channels, and since they're taller and easier to place you can have voices and sound at the right screen height.