- Lots of features
- Easy to use
- Excellent picture performance
- Clumsy Viera Connect layout
- Lacks refinement at loud volumes
- Speakers lack robustness
- Review Price: £409.99
- 3D Blu-ray playback
- 3D Cinema Surround
- DLNA certified
- Viera Connect
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- 1000W power output
The Panasonic SC-BTT290 is a 5.1-channel Blu-ray system that packs a 1000W 3D Blu-ray receiver, five compact satellites and a passive subwoofer into a single box, getting you a complete home cinema kit in one go without having to shop around for separates. It’s the step-up version of the SC-BTT190, throwing in a few extra features for a £49 premium, and is two rungs down the range ladder from the flagship SC-BTT590.
There are some cosmetic differences between this and the entry-level SC-BTT190. This time there’s a flap on the front panel, which covers up a couple of buttons (play and stop), plus the USB port and SD card slot. On the right-hand side is an integrated iPod/iPhone dock tray (not found on the SC-BTT190), which pops out when pressed. The aluminium bodywork elsewhere is pleasing, bringing a sense of solidity to the back end. There are a few buttons dotted along the top of the fascia, while an LED display on the front gives pertinent information in large digits.
The speakers’ compact dimensions make them easy to fit into the living room, with each one measuring just 139mm high, while the gloss black finish brings a touch of class. Inside, they sport a 6.5cm full range driver. The centre speaker is longer and horizontally configured to fit in front of your TV. They look terrific, but a manual inspection reveals that the cabinets are light and plasticky, which doesn’t inspire confidence in their performance.
The rear panel houses a better line-up of sockets than the SC-BTT190. This time you get two HDMI inputs, which make it easy to run other components like digital TV boxes and games consoles through the system. You also get optical digital and analogue stereo inputs, an HDMI v1.4 output, an Ethernet port, an aerial input for the FM radio and a composite video output. What’s more, this time round the second USB port can be used exclusively for the optional Skype communication camera as the Panasonic SC-BTT290 comes with built-in Wi-Fi.
The SC-BTT290 is also compatible with Panasonic’s SH-FX71 wireless kit, which lets you beam rear channel information from the main unit to a receiver at the back of the room. This means you won’t have to conceal any long cables runs.