It seems like only yesterday we were looking at Panasonic’s first Blu-ray home cinema system and commenting on the features and performance it offered. Fast forward several years, and we’re still doing the same – but in this case, the model is better value for money, and has better performance, even if the basic features haven’t changed that much.
The Panasonic SC-BTT190 will be many people’s first foray into Blu-ray home cinema, and the system is ready up to make this as easy as possible. The cabling, installation and set up are all as easy as it’s likely to get with colour coded cables with easy to connect ends. The only thing you’ll really have to think about is how you where you want to position the speakers, and where you’ll run the cables to them.
The full 5.1 surround sound experience, or it is it 30.1…?
The SC-BTT190 is a full 5.1 system supporting DTS HD Master and Dolby True HD, but Panasonic have also included their own 3D Cinema Surround to give a more encompassing audio experience. This technology uses the speakers to create a total of 30 real and virtual sound points so the audio is always perceived to be coming from the right direction. The Anti-Jitter Digital Amplifier also includes the sound is as clear as possible.
The speakers themselves are reasonably compact at only 80mm wide, 139mm high and 71mm deep for the front and surround speakers, and 280mm wide, 84mm high and 78mm deep for the centre speaker – so they’re all going to be relatively easy to hide. They are also quite light at just under 400 grams, which is an early sign of the sort of quality we can expect. But everything is well-built, and pretty much as you could expect for the price you pay.
With the small size of the speakers, the all important sub-woofer has an even more important job to do. The size (145mm x 290mm x 258mm) and weight (3kg) of the bass box give more confidence that the final sound will be satisfactory.
Limited connectivity, but made for online
Around the back of the player we have a somewhat limited number of connections with only optical and phono inputs able to give the system any real flexibility, and a single ARC compatible HDMI output. This system has clearly been designed for basic home movie viewing – and even if you can’t connect your games console to it, there are plenty of other things to watch apart from your Blu-ray or DVD discs.
The rear of the play had a LAN input so you can connect the system up to your router, and even a USB slot for connecting the optional DY-WL5 wireless LAN adapter more options for viewing online. With the Viera Connect platform, the system gives easy access to iPlayer, YouTube and Netflix (it even has a dedicated button on the remote for this service) among others, as well as being able to view your own content across your home network.
Simple stylish looks to stand the test of time
If the things you want to watch aren’t online, then the SD Card and USB slots around the front give you more options.
Able to access up to 64Gb SDXC cards and 2Tb USB drives, the SC-BTT190 is more capable than many we’ve used and the readable file formats are also quite comprehensive with AVCHD, AVCHD 3D, DivX, MKV, MP4, MPEG, JPEG, MPO, FLAC, MP3 and WAV all accessible.
If traditional disc based content is more your thing, then the of course the Panasonic will play, your Blu-ray discs and upscale your DVD discs, but Blu-ray 3D is also supported if you have a compatible television.
The styling of the BTT190 is simple to say the least, and that is a design trend that Panasonic have always followed. Whilst the system may not jump out and grab you, this does have the advantage of being able to stand the test of time.
What to consider…
Any system of this price is going to have shortcomings, and the Panasonic is no exception. The lack of any HDMI inputs is its most telling drawback, but the lightweight quality of the speakers is one area that also suffers. You’ll also need to purchase the optional Wi-Fi adapter if you can’t connect with a network cable. If you want a more modern looking system, the similar Sony BDV-E190 is also worth a look.
Why you should buy the Panasonic SC-BTT190
With the flexibility that this system offers you, the simple design is one that will ultimately benefit you. If you can live the lack of HDMI inputs, then the looks and features of the SC-BTT190 will keep you in home cinema pleasure for many years to come. Rating: /5