If you need a Blu-ray player and you’re fed up with the flat, weedy sound coming out of your TV then the SC-BT222 could be just the upgrade you’re looking for. It’s a budget 2.1-channel Blu-ray system that delivers 500W of audio power from two compact front speakers and a subwoofer – all of which takes up considerably less room than a full 5.1-channel system.
Running the show is a combined Blu-ray player/receiver unit, which handles all the audio amplification, processing and video playback. It’s a slim and sturdy deck, measuring 430(w) x 54(h) x 287(d)mm, and is styled in a tasteful glossy black finish. The front panel is peppered with interesting bits and pieces – most eye-catching is the iPod/iPhone dock, concealed under a flap on top. That’s a real bonus for those who want to play music on their Apple device out loud, and there are onscreen displays for added convenience.
The right hand side of the fascia drops down to reveal a couple more buttons (play and stop) plus an SD card slot and USB port, making it easy to play your digital media. On the back of the unit is a limited selection of connections, including an HDMI output and a pair of optical digital audio inputs, which lets you enjoy sound from digital TV receivers and games consoles through the system. The lack of HDMI inputs is disappointing but no great surprise at this price. The line-up is completed by analogue stereo input, composite video output and an antenna input for the built-in FM radio.
The speaker terminals on the main unit are colour-coded plugs as opposed to fiddly springclips, which makes connection a quick and easy process, although you’ll find springclips on the back of the speakers. The speakers’ sealed enclosures are surprisingly well built for such a modestly priced system, and although their black styling and plain rectangular shape lack pizzazz they’re pleasant enough – plus the little stands at the bottom are an attractive touch.
The subwoofer is a passive unit, which means it lacks its own power source and connects to the main unit with regular speaker cable like the front pair. It’s a remarkably compact box (145(w) x 289.5(h) x 258(d)mm) that should be easy to slot into a tight space. It’s ported at the front and features a 16cm cone, while the speakers use a lighter and more rigid bamboo cones than previous systems, which Panasonic says is more responsive and therefore helps improve the clarity of dialogue.