The SC-BT100 may be Panasonic’s first HTiB system to include an integrated Blu-ray player, but that didn’t stop the designers from loading on 2.4GHz wireless surround speakers, a built-in iPod dock, and a SD Memory Card reader. Oh, and the SC-BT100 sounds killer on movies.
Consider this HTiB if: You want full-bodied sound from an HTiB with small speakers and a slim subwoofer. The SC-BT100’s generous features package fits the bill, complete with high quality wireless surround speakers guaranteed to turn you on.
Look elsewhere if: You think unadorned black plastic speakers are out of place on a $1,000 HTiB, or if you want to switch video sources such as a cable box or game through your HTiB system (something the SCBT100 cannot do).
What Comes in the Box
Anything else needed? Yes, an HDMI cable (sold separately as an optional accessory).
Setup and User Interface
The SC-BT100 hookup is a straightforward process. The speaker wires all have locking connectors that plug into the amplifiers and bare wire ends that you insert into the speakers’ spring-clip connectors. Menu navigation was a breeze. Hooking up the surround speakers involves running wires between the speakers and the small (3.5 x 6.25 x 6.4 inch) 2.4GHz wireless receiver/amplifier and then plugging the receiver/amplifier into an AC power outlet. So much for the fantasy of “wireless” speakers, but the SC-BT100 does eliminate the need to run wires between the Blu-ray player/A/V receiver and the surround speakers.
The SC-BT100 delivers up to 1080p video and boasts Deep Color and the Final Standard Profile for advanced functions such as Bonus View and audio mixing. If your display doesn’t do 1080p just set the SC-BT100’s HDMI output to Auto and you’ll get the highest resolution possible.
Movie (or Soundtrack) Performance
The Iron Man Blu-ray made a strong impression, especially in the scene where Iron Man tangles with a fighter jet. Wow, the swirling surround effects of a speeding man and plane were excellent, and the film’s massive explosions rocked my world. Bass went deeper than average for a HTiB, and dynamics were good, but not great. The high-resolution, lossless Dolby TrueHD soundtrack sounded no better than plain vanilla Dolby Digital over the SCBT100. The Talented Mr. Ripley DVD was more sedate, but thoroughly enjoyable. There’s a bunch of scenes set in jazz clubs, and I had no doubt the music was recorded live, not dubbed in postproduction. Also noteworthy: The wireless surround speakers’ sound quality was on par with the wired front speakers.
The Rolling Stones’ Shine A Light concert CD sounded somewhat harsh. On the upside, the blend between the speakers and subwoofer was above average and that goes a long way towards reducing the undernourished quality you get with a lot of HTiBs. The SC-BT100 is gutsy enough to play fairly loud, but dynamics and bass definition were only fair. Since treble detail and air were in short supply, classical music was even less appealing than rock.
Bottom Line: Abundant features and compact size should satisfy tech savvy buyers. Better yet, the SC-BT100’s clarity and poise on movies kept my attention on the story. After all, pulling you into the environment of the film is what home theater sound is all about—it should be so good that you become immersed without really noticing it. The SC-BT100’s music skills were noticeably less terrific, fine for background listening, but that’s it.