It’s a budget home cinema system that packs a Blu-ray player, amplifier and 5.1 speaker system into a single box. It’s similar to the Panasonic SC-BTT460 and SC-BTT570, except their 'tallboy' fronts are replaced by compact speakers, making this a more suitable system for small rooms where space is at a premium.
The SC-BTT500 marks a departure from previous Panasonic systems with its silver Blu-ray receiver unit. With its slim, elegant bodywork that slopes inwards at the sides, it’s sure to make a splash in any living room.
What’s more, build quality is surprisingly good for the money – the casing is fashioned from metal, with a brushed aluminium front edge embedded with a few buttons. It’s hardly high fashion, but possibly the best-looking budget system Panasonic has produced – certainly prettier than the SC-BTT460.
The fascia is mostly covered by a black flap that drops down to reveal the disc tray, an SD card slot, USB port and play/stop buttons. On the right hand side is an iPod dock that pops out when pressed. It’s designed to accommodate the iPhone 5, iPod Touch 5th generation and iPod Nano 7th generation thanks to the Lightning connector. A built-in plastic support keeps the device upright.
The slim front speakers stand 8cm taller than the rears and their lustrous gloss-black finish looks gorgeous. Closer inspection reveals weighty, rigid build quality. The exposed drivers on the front add extra panache with their ringed surrounds and silver cones. On the downside, the black finish doesn’t sit well with the Blu-ray unit’s silver styling and they’re plasticky to the touch.
The rears and horizontally configured centre share these cosmetic traits, and when dotted around the room they make a fetching ensemble. It’s rounded off nicely by the passive subwoofer, which solves placement headaches with its cute, compact size. The front panel is dressed in gloss black with a matt finish covering the rest. Build quality is so-so – the exposed MDF on the back looks ugly, and it sounds hollow when you tap it.