Panasonic continues to push the boundaries of Blu-ray with its cutting-edge players and systems, but that doesn’t mean the company is turning its back on DVD just yet. And why should they? With discs going for peanuts in supermarkets and the nation’s shelves heaving with standard-def discs, there’s plenty of life left in the format yet. So if you’re looking for an affordable all-in-one home cinema system but aren’t quite ready to upgrade to Blu-ray, then the SC-PT480 might be just the ticket.
As systems go it’s as simple as they come – five bookshelf style satellite speakers, a combined DVD player/receiver unit and a passive subwoofer. The DVD/receiver is a straight-laced set-top box, which lacks glamour but is by no means an eyesore. It’s adorned with a glossy plastic front panel, part of which drops down to reveal the disc tray, and there’s a nicely-sized display panel on the right. This shows the running time by default, but switches to the current Title and Chapter when you press a button on the remote. Pleasingly, Panasonic has squeezed all the electronics into a very slim case, which won’t take up much space under your TV.
The rear panel is sparse but covers the essentials. You get an HDMI output, which allows you to take advantage of the deck’s 720p, 1080i, and 1080p upscaling, as well as a Scart output for older TVs. On the audio side there are analogue stereo and optical digital inputs, which will come in handy if you want to channel your Sky or Freeview box through the system. Otherwise that’s it, apart from the FM radio aerial and speaker terminals.
The supplied speakers are ideal for rooms with very little space to play with. The identical fronts and rears stand just 119mm high, which makes it easy to perch them on shelves or cabinets, while the horizontal centre channel is equally compact. What’s more, they’re a lot more robust and attractive than we expected (based on our experience with some previous Panasonic systems), sporting a fabric mesh over the front and subtly curved corners. The springclip terminals on the back of each one are a bit fiddly but overall these are impressive little speakers.
They’re joined by a subwoofer that’s equally living-room friendly in terms of size, measuring 289mm high and 145mm wide. But its build quality is more indicative of the price tag – it’s light and hollow, with an ugly exposed MDF back panel. It’s also passive, which means you’re not likely to get the same sort of tight, powerful bass punch as you would from a powered sub, but then that’s par for the course at this price.