I went out and purchased the Sony 550w from Sony. The setup is fairly simple, especially after reading this thread. The hdmi switching and ARC work great. The unit would be simpler with a Sony Bravia TV although the Harmony would eventually take much of that annoyance away. The wireless SW works great (with one major exception) and having the receiver removed from the soundbar has certain advantages with my geometrical setup. The sound quality varies quite a bit with the tuning of the unit but the values given in this thread are pretty good. Changing audio settings would be nicer if a menu showed up on the TV. That is possibly a Sony Bravia advantage. It's a bit hard to see the receiver's display from a distance and selecting the various options is a bit strange with the way the arrows are used. Those are minor issue though. I have 2 reservations, one of which is a deal breaker.
1- The SW is placed behind out setup and is quite far away. It has a fan that reminds me of a cheap media player fan. You can hear it, even during movies. Perhaps the fan is defective, but that one issue has made keeping the 550w impossible. You don't have whiny fans in home theatre setups. Given that the receiver is not part of the SW I really don't understand what Sony was thinking. The receiver makes no noise at all. The sound is comparable to a Boxee Box or Patriot Box Office (two media players with small high pitched fans).
2- The audio from the SW is very nice, if you ignore the fan, but the soundbar itself is just ok. I have to say that my Bose Cinemate analogue sound is better, by far ( the speakers that is).
Audio is very subjective. The 550w is potentially very nice. The fan noise in the SW may be a defect. If not, it's unforgivable. If it is a defect then it would be hit and miss with a new unit. Trying 4 Boxee Box players to get a quiet fan is one thing (and I never succeeded), but the soundbar package is a bit of a pain in terms of size.
I really have mixed feeling about this. It is a bargain for what you get with the HDMI switching. The sound, especially from the SW, is nice but not great. Must be simpler with Sony equipment. Too difficult to deal with the remote and fine tuning.
I think I will be sticking with the Bose Cinemate setup. Far simpler and richer sound, even if it's not as high tech.
Edit: Ok, I tracked down the source of the noise. It is not the SW, but rather the receiver. That makes more sense but is still unacceptable. The subwoofer as I said actually sounds really good. But the fan noise from the receiver makes things hard to take. Shouldn't it be quiet?