Given my low expectations - generated by the modest look and feel of the system's speakers - I was immediately impressed by how much sound Panasonic managed to squeeze from a bunch of 2[1/2]-inch drivers. The SC-BT300 performed best with movie soundtracks and TV shows, delivering smooth and clear sound, with a surprising kick when called for. In a scene from the August Rush Blu-ray where August (Freddie Highmore) plays a big pipe organ, the sound was solid and powerful, with the sub moving plenty of air. High-frequency details like the attack of August's fingers on steel guitar stings lacked some of the sparkle and air you'd get from a high-quality tweeter, although this was certainly preferable to the harsh, peaky treble you hear with many low-cost speakers.
Music CDs proved to be a tougher test. The system's sub emphasized certain notes over others in the deep synth bass line from "Always With You" from Libera's Visions. Midrange clarity remained a strong point until the volume was pushed too hard, at which point the sound became thinner and less dynamic. But even with the volume maxed out, the system's limiting circuits ensured that the sound never became grossly distorted.
The system's Blu-ray Disc player, which appears to be based on Panasonic's DMP-BD60, was able to sail through our normal video torture tests without major issues. Jaggies were only barely noticeable on the HQV Blu-ray tests for video-based material, and the film-sourced tests also looked solid. It also handled standard-definition DVDs well, with clean 1080p upscaling via the HDMI connection.
Many A/V enthusiasts may scoff at the whole HTiB notion, but for regular folks, an integrated system's setup simplicity makes it a compelling option. I'm particularly impressed at how Panasonic chose to focus on real-world results with the SC-BT300, rather than trying to dazzle consumers with useless bells and whistles. The results here speak for themselves: I can't think of any separate component system that could deliver this array of features, and this level of performance, at such a low cost.
• BD-Live capable Blu-ray Disc player
• Built-in Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
• Integrated iPod dock
• Viera Cast media streaming
•Amplifier: 65W x 6 (L/R and surrounds); 105W (center); 105W (sub)
2[1/2]-inch cone driver; 40[1/4] x 10 x 10 in (including base)
Two 2[1/2]-inch cone drivers; 3[3/4] x 9[3/4] x 3[1/4] in
• Side and rear surrounds
2[1/2]-inch cone driver; 5 x 3[1/2] x 3[1/4] in
6[1/2]-in cone woofer; 10-in passive radiator; 14[1/4] x 7 x 12[1/2] in
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