Panasonic's plasma and LCD flat screen TVs are right up there in the popularity stakes and it has a comprehensive range of home theatre in a box (HTIB) systems to match. The SC-BTT370 is second up its range line-up offering a wealth of modern features and a slimline design that takes up minimal living space.
Design and features
It's a smart and discrete-looking system comprising a Full HD 3D Blu-ray player, passive subwoofer and compact satellite speakers. All are wired; however, the rear surrounds can be configured wirelessly with the use of Panasonic's optional AU$199 SH-FX17 wireless kit.
There's built-in wireless LAN networking and the system ties in with Panasonic's own Viera Cast, which also features on its TVs. Multimedia connectivity's good, with a USB port and SD card slot under the player's front flap, while over to the right a pop-out-integrated iPod/iPhone dock is a nifty inclusion and does away with the additional wires of a separate docking station. Round the back there are two pass-through HDMI inputs and a single output. This allows external sources (a satellite receiver or PVR, say) to be routed to the TV via the SC-BTT370 and usable even when the Panasonic's in standby mode.
Panasonic's familiar remote controls everything and it took us around 20 minutes to go from opening the box to hitting the play button. The '370 initially guides you through a basic set-up and then you're basically good to go. Additional adjustments are required though, especially the speaker settings, none of which are automated.
We weren't at all surprised that the Panasonic served up some great-looking Blu-ray imagery. It's nailed it over recent years and both 2D and 3D HD content was dished up superbly by the '370. Animation like the BD of Rio was especially impressive, with a rich and accurate-looking colour palette, oodles of detail and resolution. To our eyes there was no hint of any noise or picture distortion.
This system's video engine was truly impressive — both with 2D/3D Blu-ray processing and DVD upscaling. Tricky motion in movies like Green Zone were handled without any video wobbles and the on-screen action/drama is given all the punch and visual vibrancy that it required. Whites were NapiSan clean, blacks solid and insightful. We loved the way this player looked.
Sonically, it's no hedgehog either. We'd have liked to have seen a calibration microphone included, but it's a manual set-up. Tinkering with the levels, we found it best to drop the subwoofer output by a couple of decibels and we gave the dinky centre channel a bit of a lift. That way dialogue and other centrally placed effects were more audible and the subwoofer lost a bit of its boom.
Small, they may be, but the '370s speaker delivered surprising scale and power, as long as you don't expect them to go to "fill a concert hall" volume levels. They go plenty loud enough for your average-sized living room, and distortion didn't rear its ugly head until near maximum output. The spread and diffusion was ample and tightly steered around convincing-sounding soundfields. Avatar's sonic score was a great example of this, delivered with weight, authority and balance. Treble tones weren't too bright and the lows meaty enough.
Musically, it also translates well, whether you still play the silver disc thingies or are purely an iPodder. Take care when mounting your 'pod or 'phone though — the connector pin seems a bit flimsy and wouldn't appreciate rough treatment.
Well built, great picture and decent audio with ample connectivity and wireless functionality, the SC-BTT370 ticks most, not all, HTIB boxes. It's a bit fiddly to set up, but that's about our only gripe, given the price and performance on offer here.