We’ve recently checked out three of Panasonic’s 2012 standalone 3D Blu-ray players, all of which mix abundant features with the company’s incredible picture quality. But if you want to get yourself a sound system at the same time, you might want to check out Panasonic’s wide range of all-in-one systems.
The one we’re looking at here is its entry-level 2.1 channel system, the Panasonic SC-BTT182. As well as a combined Blu-ray player and AV receiver, which outputs a claimed 520W of audio power, you get a pair of compact speakers and a passive subwoofer in the box. That makes it an ideal choice if you want bigger, louder sound than TV speakers can provide, but simply can’t accommodate larger towers or surround speakers in your living room.
The speakers supplied with the Panasonic SC-BTT182 measure just 139mm tall by 80mm wide, a perfect size to plonk on top of your TV stand without getting in the way. Their shape is a straightforward cuboid with no curves, but the gloss black finish gives them all the elegance they need. If you want to save even more space, they can be mounted on the wall using the holes on the back.
The plasticky cabinets aren’t up to the same standards as a dedicated speaker system a la Wharfedale or Boston Acoustics, and the plastic springclip terminals are par for the course, but they’re solidly put together and look stylish. Step up to the higher-end SC-BTT282 and you get slightly larger speakers, the same ones that accompany Panasonic’s flagship SC-BTT590.
The passive subwoofer is much smaller than most bass boxes, measuring 289.5mm high. It’s the perfect size for tucking away in a corner, although with its matching gloss black finish it’s attractive enough to have out on show. A large port on the front is the only feature of note, while a pre-attached cable pokes out of the back. Being a passive sub there are no controls to worry about, as its performance is all governed by the receiver.
Talking of which, the main unit is a typically conservative box, slightly fatter than Panasonic’s Blu-ray decks and styled in a neutral gloss-black finish. An LED display panel shines through the front panel giving the usual running time information, and unusually the USB port and SD card slot are permanently out on show and not tucked away under a flap, making them even easier to access.
On the back is a limited array of sockets, including an HDMI output (3D and ARC-compatible, natch), optical digital and analogue stereo inputs, a second USB port, an Ethernet jack and an antenna input for the FM radio tuner. The USB port lets you play back media from flash memory devices, as well as supporting direct iPod or iPhone playback (with onscreen playback menus and operation with the system’s remote).
The step-up Panasonic SC-BTT282 adds two HDMI inputs, allowing you to pipe external sources through the system, and a built-in iPod dock tray on the front.