I used it with a Samsung tv (w/o ARC) with only the optical connecting to it and the bar would turn on/off with the tv. Or on/off with the bluray via the hdmi signal. In addition, volume for the soundbar automatically linked to my Samsung remote via the anynet+ feature.
HDMI carries both Video and Sound. The sound bar works like an AV Home Theater Reciever, in a limited way. HDMI makes this very simple. I have three devices, CableTV/DVR box, Apple TV and BlueRay. All of the HDMI for these devices plug into the sound bar IN; 1,2 & 3. Then the HDMI OUT from the Sony Sound Bar plugs into the TV HDMI IN ONE. I leave the TV on the HDMI ONE, the sound bar, and then adjust the input on the sound bar to the source I want and volume on the sound bar. Works like a champ and it is a clean install with just the one cable to the TV.
You can use more devices if your TV supports Optical, for best quality, or RCA out. That can be routend to the sound bar and the you can plug more devices into your TV too.
Yes, all sound fields are available regardless of the input. You can use any combination of input-sound field. However, the sound bar will not remember which field you use based on input. All settings are independent of input.
Cable box goes directly to TV. The optical plug goes from sound bar to cable box. HDMI cable from game unit to bar. We used HDMI 1 for GAME UNIT. Then HDMI output on bar goes to TV. There may be an easier way but this works well.