Panasonic SC-BTT590 review
All-in-one home cinema kits aren’t often targeted at audiophiles, but Panasonic’s aiming to change that with the SC-BTT590. It’s a 5.1 system that uses high quality components such as premium capacitors and bamboo speaker cones to handle its 1,000W of sound power.
The BTT590’s incredibly sleek satellite speakers make it stand out from the crowd. They’re all double-height and contain two drivers in each. The centre speaker lies horizontally and has pre-drilled holes for wall-mounting, but because we couldn’t find an easy way to remove the stands from each of the satellites, they’re best used in a vertical position. The passive subwoofer is one of the largest we’ve seen from an all-in-one system below £500.
From the front, the main unit looks very similar to Panasonic’s other Blu-ray players. A glossy black plastic flap hides the disc tray, LCD display, SDXC memory card reader and a single USB port. The pop-out iPod dock sits on the end. Around the back, the speaker connections are all proprietary, although the speakers themselves use spring terminal connections.
With two HDMI inputs and a single HDMI output that supports Audio Return Channel, the BTT590’s well equipped for owners of games consoles and set-top boxes. There’s also one set of auxiliary RCA phono inputs, a composite video output, FM radio antenna, digital optical audio input and USB port for Panasonic’s optional Skype camera (Panasonic TY-CC20W Skype Camera, £99 from johnlewis.co.uk).
Although it has an Ethernet port, the BTT590’s integrated Wi-Fi makes it much easier to get connected to the internet. Once online, you can stream content from your local network or access VIERA Connect, Panasonic’s online portal. It uses the same basic layout as this year’s TV line-up, but compared to some of the more flashy graphics of the competition it’s beginning to look a little aged. Considering that the rest of the menu system has seen a graphical overhaul this year, it’s a shame Panasonic hasn’t upgraded this too.
Still, there’s a reasonable range of services, such as catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, on-demand film streaming from Netflix and AceTrax and social networking from Facebook and Twitter. Panasonic’s unique Skype service is also present, although you must invest in the official webcam to use it.
Local multimedia playback is also great. Apart from the outdated WMV HD codec, all our test files played perfectly, including MKV, MOV, DivX and Xvid files. AVCHD files also work, but only from an SD card.