I am interested in answers to this question also. A surround system isn't really practical in my situation, so I am tempted to get a soundbar. I just don't want to spend money if I am not sure it will be better than the 2.1 system I rigged up using an old bass amp from a set of PC speakers and a set of decent Sony speakers from a bookshelf component set.
I am an audiophile and as such my requirements may be higher than most folks. I currently use a Defenitive sound bar, basically the Mythos 10 turned sideways less a few speaker components . It is SEPERATE three chanels . So that is left, center and right. Add a sub and two small rear speakers and you are done. However, now, Mr Sandy Gross who invented the Defenitive speakers and engineering theories , white papers etc., has a new company called Golden Ear. Mr Gross has invented a new Sound Bar that does the entire job of creating the 5.1 sound field from just the bar. He has been winning awards for this design and is well worth the 700 to 800 dollars it costs. You can use a simple 2.1 chanel integrated amp and enjoy for the rest of your life. They will sound better each time you use them as you loosen the voice coil..........