Wireless home theatre, Blu-ray and iPod dock all in one.
- Powerful, iPod and Blu-ray integration works well
- Almost as expensive as a 'real' home theatre system, tacky speaker build quality
If you want an all-in-one home theatre that's simple to set up, the SC-BT105 is the pick of the bunch. It can handle your iPod's music, video or photo collection as well as playing standard- and high-definition content through the built-in Blu-ray drive. It may not be as well put together as a 'proper' enthusiast home theatre setup, but for most users it'll be more than adequate.
Price$ 1,869.00 (AUD)
Coming in at the top of Panasonic's 2008 home entertainment range is the SC-BT105, a home theatre that combines a fully-featured Blu-ray disc player, an iPod dock with video playback capability and a full 5.1 speaker system. It's powerful and has a boomy sound that's appropriate for blockbuster movies. While its finish and audio quality may not on par with enthusiast home theatre systems, it's one of the best pre-built options on the market today.
The system looks like any other home-theatre-in-a-box on the market, with a few subtle differences. Four tall, skinny floorstanding speakers produce the majority of sound from the system, while a small but weighty centre speaker is responsible for the dialogue and surround effects. A rather tall but thin sub-woofer makes up the low frequency effects for the SC-BT105, as well as providing mid-range noise that the satellites can't create. The system is finished in a generic satin black that will fit in with any decor, while the styling isn't anything out of this world.
Technically, the system is one of the best we've seen. It's rated at a massive 1250 Watts RMS, which would rival the output of any enthusiast home theatre system. It's definitely overkill — you won't ever need that much audio output power unless you're running your own personal cinema — but it's always nice to have the overhead. The system's receiver is certainly a jack of all trades, with an AM/FM tuner, the afore-mentioned iPod dock and Blu-ray player, and a whole swag of digital decoders. The SC-BT105's receiver is able to decode all the most recent formats, including DTS HD Master Audio — which is fast becoming the standard for all the best quality audio for Blu-ray movies.
The receiver can up-scale all the content pushed through it to 1080p — which is great if you have a Full HD plasma or LCD display panel. We liked the manner in which the up-scaling was done: pictures looked consistently smooth and free of any noticeable interpolation. There's definitely still no comparison between up-scaled content and true 1080p video — the up-scaled content clearly falls behind in terms of colour depth and clarity — but it's better to have the receiver doing the up-scaling than not.
The iPod dock integration was of the best we've seen on a non-Apple product. The system is able to easily play all content off an Apple iPod touch (2nd Generation), including photo and video content. It's quite convenient and the inclusion certainly doesn't hamper the system, but we can't see it being overly useful for the majority of users.
Picture quality from the inbuilt Blu-ray player is on par with the dedicated players we've tested and the functionality is much the same. Our test disc of Pearl Harbour was crisp and clear, exhibiting plenty of colour depth and contrast. Put simply, there'll be far more variance between two different television sets than between the SC-BT105's Blu-ray player and a dedicated Blu-ray device.
Sound quality from the SC-BT105 is well suited to Blu-ray movies. The system's treble and higher mid-frequencies are well handled by the satellite speakers — dialogue in particular is crisp and involving, projected primarily from the centre speaker. Lower mid-range and bass are handled exclusively by the system's sub-woofer. This means that the sub-woofer often tends to be boomy and noticeable. Combine that with the fact that it is able to extend lower in the frequency range than we were expecting and the end result is that the SC-BT105 proves itself to be a competent home theatre system, especially when presented with an action or sci-fi movie with plenty of rolling bass.
Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.
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