It's packed full of features and supports all of the latest sound and image standards, but the surround-sound is a little flat and underwhelming.
If you’ve been hankering for a Blu-ray player and surround-sound system, but don’t really have the room or money to buy separates, the Panasonic SC-BT230 could well be what you’re after. It’s an all-in-one Blu-ray player and 5.1 surround-sound system, complete with tiny satellite speakers.
The satellite speakers are impressively small, and should be easy to discretely tuck out of site and view. That will only leave you to find space for the slightly-larger passive subwoofer. Sadly, placement of speakers could be a bit of an issue, as Panasonic has fitted the speaker cables with a proprietary connector at the Blu-ray player end.
These are colour coded to make plugging in the speakers easier, but make it incredibly hard to replace the cables. While the front speakers and subwoofer all have a healthy amount of cable, the rears have around 7m. This should be fine for most people, but it’s easy to eat up cable by routing it around bookshelves and the like. Fortunately, the speakers all have spring terminals, so you could join normal speaker cable to the proprietary ones if you need more length.
While a lot of all-in-one systems like this lack features compared to home theatre separates, Panasonic has managed to squeeze a load into this package. For starters, the impressively thin, considering it’s also an amplifier, and the Blu-ray player has an HDMI 1.4 output. While there’s no support for 3D Blu-ray discs, it can also be used with an audio-return channel (ARC) on a compatible TV, so you can pump the sound from your flat panel into the SC-BT230 and use its surround sound.
Beyond that there’s an iPod dock hidden underneath a flap in the top of the player. It supports all modern iPods and lets you play music through your speakers. Beyond that, there’s an SDXC memory card slot, so that you can view AVCHD video and JPEG photos directly from your digital camera or camcorder.
If you’d rather view files stored on your network, there’s a full DLNA client that will connect to UPnP servers when you connect the player to your network via the integrated Ethernet port (an optional 802.11n USB wireless adaptor can be added). It supports most common file formats, including MP3 for audio, and DivX HD, MPEG-2 and AVCHD for video. The interface is a little basic, but it’s easy enough to find your way around.
Panasonic has also integrated its Viera Cast, which lets you stream content from the internet. It’s rather lacking at the moment with YouTube and Picasa Web Albums the main features, but no on-demand TV, such as iPlayer.
|Output resolutions||576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p|
|Total SCART sockets||0|
|SCART socket type||N/A|
|Stereo phono inputs||0|
|Stereo phono outputs||1|
|Coaxial S/PDIF inputs||0|
|Coaxial S/PDIF outputs||0|
|Optical S/PDIF inputs||2|
|Optical S/PDIF outputs||0|
|Main unit end speaker connection type||proprietary|
|Speaker end speaker connection type||spring terminals|
|Other connections||Ethernet, USB, wireless speaker|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100|
|Wireless networking support||optional 802.11n|
|Surround sound formats||Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD HRA, DTS-HD MA|
|Supported playback disc formats||Blu-ray|
|Audio format support||MP3, WMA|
|Video playback formats||MPEG-2, DivX, AVCHD|
|Image viewing formats||JPEG|
|RMS power output||1000W|
|RMS power centre||250W|
|RMS power front||250W|
|RMS power surround||250W|
|RMS power subwoofer||250W|
|Centre speaker cable length||2.0m|
|Front speaker cable length||2.8m|
|Surround speaker cable length||7.6m|
|Centre speaker dimensions||145x72x85mm|
|Front speaker dimensions||80x68x119mm|
|Surround speaker dimensions||80x68x119mm|
|Power consumption standby||0W|
|Power consumption on||34W|
|Warranty||one year RTB|