The Panasonic SC-BTT400 is an entry-level home cinema package that brings you a complete surround sound system and Blu-ray player at a price that won’t break the bank. Unlike some of Panasonic’s latest systems that come with tall, imposing tower speakers, the SC-BTT400’s satellites are small and compact, making it ideal for those who don't want big boxes cluttering up their living room.
Obviously you miss out on many of the features found on Panasonic’s step-up systems like the SC-BTT500, but if you can live without frills the Panasonic BTT400 could be a good money-saver – you can find it for as little as £200 online.
The SC-BTT400’s components are so compact that everything fits in a small box that you can just bung in the back of the car. In the box are four compact satellites, each measuring 143mm high, an elongated centre speaker (though still pretty small), a passive subwoofer and a Blu-ray receiver – the brains of the operation.
The Blu-ray receiver is a strikingly attractive unit and remarkably slim considering all the technology crammed inside. Panasonic’s designers deserve credit for giving this year’s systems a new lease of life with some subtle but effective touches – namely the sloping sides and silver strip running along the top edge.
As ever the gloss-black finish is sleek and stylish and overall build quality is good given the price, thanks to a robust aluminium casing. The front panel feels a little plasticky, but you’d expect that from a budget system. An LED display on the right hand side gives running time and other key information during playback, plus it also lets you adjust channel levels and sound modes without having to visit the setup menu.
The front and rear satellites are also styled in a plasticky but gorgeous-looking gloss-black finish. The sides taper toward the back panel, where you’ll find a pair of springclip cable terminals. They’re equipped with a 6.5cm full range cone driver and a Piezo type super tweeter, which are exposed on the front. They’re fairly solid and weighty for budget system speakers.
The Panasonic SC-BTT400’s front speakers are slightly smaller than those supplied with the step-up SC-BTT500, although the rears, centre and subwoofer are all identical.
The centre speaker is identically styled except it’s 280mm wide and uses two tweeters either side of the 6.5cm full range driver. The subwoofer is one of the smallest and cutest we’ve encountered – it should be a cinch to accommodate in even the smallest living room. It matches the satellites in its gleaming black finish, with a curvy front port catching the eye, although build quality is on the lightweight side.
The front panel plays host to an SD card slot and a USB port for playback of media files, but unlike the BTT500 there’s no flap to hide them away. On the back you’ll find a pared-down selection of sockets, again commensurate with the price. Naturally that includes an HDMI v1.4 output (both 3D and ARC compatible), but there are no HDMI inputs for channelling other components through the system – for that you’ll need to step up to the SC-BTT500.
There’s also an optical digital audio input, analogue stereo input, an Ethernet port, FM aerial input and a second USB port. The latter lets you connect Panasonic’s optional wireless LAN dongle or its Skype communication camera – obviously it can’t house both at the same time, so if you want to use Skype wirelessly you’ll need to connect the camera to the front USB port and put the LAN dongle in the back. Alternatively you can connect to the internet via Ethernet and connect the camera to the rear port.