It’s Panasonic’s flagship all-in-one home cinema system, with the company’s best range of features and tallboy speakers for the front and rear channels. Being a flagship system it’s not cheap (£758.99 on Panasonic’s online shop, around £600 elsewhere) but if the BTT880’s performance is half as impressive as its spec sheet then it could be an excellent investment. It’s also worth noting that it’s in the same price ball-park as LG’s range-topping BH-9430PW, so it’ll be interesting to see how it compares.
The SC-BTT880 is a visually striking home cinema system, with four 1185mm-high tower speakers that’ll dominate your living room landscape. They’re styled in eye-catching light silver, with clean, straight edges and glimmering silver rings accentuating the drivers.
They come in three pieces – the speaker at the top, a middle section and a sturdy square base. The speaker cables are pre-attached to the middle section and feed through the base, which means they’re tidily hidden away. The back-sloping leg at the bottom where the tower meets the base is a stylish touch.
Their build quality is disappointing though, particularly when you compare them with LG’s more luxurious towers – Panasonic’s enclosures are fashioned from lightweight plastic, and when the parts are screwed together they don’t feel completely robust. But from a distance they look stunning.
You also get an identically-styled centre speaker, which is horizontally shaped in order to sit snugly in front of your TV, and a passive subwoofer. The sub’s silver finish is stylish and it’s shape isn’t imposing, but again plasticky build quality doesn’t inspire confidence in its performance.
Bundled in the box is Panasonic’s wireless speaker kit, which comprises the SH-FX71 receiver and a TX card that slots in the back of the main unit. The receiver is small and compact – much more so than LG’s ridiculously large receiver – and styled in a matching light silver finish. It sports plug terminals on the back for the rear speaker cables.
The main unit fuses a 3D-capable Blu-ray player with an AV receiver, but somehow Panasonic has packed all this into an deck that measures just 38mm high. It’s the best looking Blu-ray receiver Panasonic has even designed, thanks to its quirky sloping side panels, silver top plate and a tinted front panel that allows the LED display to shine through.
This panel drops down to reveal a disc tray, SD card slot and USB port, plus play and stop buttons. On the right hand side is a pop-out iPod dock with a Lightning connection, which means it supports newer Apple devices like the iPhone 5 and iPod Nano 7G – still a rarity among home cinema systems. Older versions devices have to be connected via the USB port.
This generous connectivity spills over onto the rear panel with two HDMI inputs for digital TV boxes and the like, allowing you to boost sound quality and use the system as a switcher. The HDMI output supports Audio Return Channel, making it easy to input sound from a compatible TV. You also get optical digital and analogue stereo inputs, an FM aerial input and a second USB port for Panasonic’s optional Skype camera.
There’s an Ethernet port too but you may not need this as the system boasts built-in Wi-Fi. The speaker terminals are colour coded plugs, but because the rears connect to the wireless receiver you'll only find plugs for the fronts, sub and centre.