Soundbars have been becoming the rage, since the last couple of years and many people are opting for them, instead of the conventional 5.1 channel home theatre systems. The average price for these soundbars are on the higher side in comparison, though. While the price of 5.1 channel home theatre systems are rapidly declining, they continue to offer stiff competition to soundbars. Brands launching soundbars, though continue to unveil HTiBs (home theatre systems in a box) featuring the latest technology, along with other attributes, giving the consumer reason enough to warrant a purchase. Panasonic, a leader in AV solutions had launched the SC-BTT270EEK, a home theatre system, which features a Blu-ray player and a 5.1 surround speaker set.

Rear connectors

Rear connectors

Design and Build Quality
If one reads the first bit of the review, one may easily assume that this home theatre system would come in a large box that could take up a lot of space. This is generally the case with most home theatre systems. However, with the Panasonic SC-BTT270EEK, the brand has managed to fit five speakers, a subwoofer and a Blu-ray player, all in a small box that can be easily carried in the backseat of a car. This is hardly surprising as the speakers and subwoofers are not as large as most 5.1 channel speaker sets. The front and rear channel speakers are all of the same size and measure roughly four inches in height. Though these speakers can easily stand on their own, it is preferred if it is wall mounted to add to the visual appeal of the room. The centre channel speaker is horizontal, unlike the surround speakers and this stands roughly three inches tall.

The Blu-ray player that comes along as part of the home theatre system is quite sleek and overall stylish in appearance. The design of the player is stylish and can suit most people’s homes. When one first looks at this player, they're greeted by its simplicity as all the features are housed underneath a panel on the face of the player. This panel occupies most of the left, front of the player. A small pull-out iPod dock is located at the right side on the front.  The build quality of this panel and this tray is not of the best quality, but if the player is kept at a height, then this should not be a problem.

The surround speakers look plasticy

The surround speakers look plasticy

Controls for the player are located at the top, which include buttons for power, eject and volume adjustment. The front features controls, such as play and stop. The player is very bare when it comes to the different controls, as most of the settings need to be operated using the remote control. Connectivity options for the SC-BTT270EEK are located at the front and back with most of them located at the latter.  The I/O ports for the player, include HDMI and Video for output, while AUX, optical and LAN are for inputs. This amount of inputs and outputs are quite standard for a home theatre system setup and one would not need any more connectivity options.

Rounding up this segment of the review, the Blu-ray player of this home theatre system is stylish, however, the speakers along with the subwoofer are not at the same level. The speakers look and feel plasticy and almost toy-like, which we didn’t like all that much. If the speakers are dropped by accident on a number of occasions, they look like they may break.

There are various Blu-ray home theatre systems available in the market at this price, but hardly any as feature-rich as this model. The main feature of this HTiB is the fact that it is a Blu-ray player with an integrated iPod dock and this is a big deal by itself as an iPod dock alone costs around Rs.5,000 for a good model. So, by integrating it into the unit itself a potential consumer is allowed to have this feature at hand, instead of having to connect their iPod using a separate dock. However, on the flipside, if one does not have an iPod or iPhone, then this feature is completely useless.Centre chanel speaker

Centre chanel speaker

This system features the ability to convert content from 2D to 3D, however to get the most out of this ability, one should have a 3D capable HDTV. Panasonic is known for their VIERA Cast smart TV features and the brand has added this function onto the player as well. With this feature, one can browse through apps in VIERA Cast, such as YouTube, Dailymotion, CineTrailer and a host of other online channels. Besides these, there are various other widgets for apps, such as Chess Challenge, Facebook and a range of others. One can download other apps as well from the VIERA Cast Market with genres related to movies, music, sports, games, social networking and news. The market is pretty vast given the fact that they are apps based for television.

This player can also be connected using wireless LAN, however, one has to purchase the Wi-Fi dongle separately, as it does not come as part of the package contents. The player has a USB port, along with a memory card slot in the front. This USB port can be used to easily connect a USB flash drive that is formatted in FAT32 or NTFS. However, when we tried connecting a number of portable NTFS hard disk drives to the player, it returned with the error stating that it was an unsupported device. This reduced the expansion capabilities of the player to quite an extent, as having the ability to easily connect a portable hard drive to the player and playback content is a lot more suitable in comparison to a USB thumb drive. But when we connected an NTFS flash drive, the player read the thumb drive easily. Nevertheless, it does compensate this fact to a slight extent by having support for memory cards as well; as one can easily review pictures stored on the camera’s SD card by merely slotting it in the player.

The interface is designed really well

The interface is designed really well

The interface of the player is really good and reminds us a lot of those found on HD media players. The widgets and fonts are designed well and it shows that Panasonic have put a lot of effort in designing the UI. The design of this interface is a lot better than the one found on their current crop of HDTVs as well, which are really intuitive. The television can support a range of formats and these include MKV, MPEG4, DivX, DivX HD and MP3. It features decoders, such as Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS

Moving on to the speakers of this system, Panasonic claims that the front speakers fire at 160W each, rear at 160W each and the centre channel firing at 160W as well. Panasonic rates the subwoofer at 200W. This player does really well feature-wise and so far lives upto its price tag.

The performance of the SC-BTT270EEK was tested on a number of factors, which include playback of SD content, HD videos using a Blu-ray disc, music playback and others.

Different apps available in VIERA Cast

Different apps available in VIERA Cast

SD Playback
While testing the player, we connected a USB flash drive and we observed that there was no delay in reading the drive. The interface was fluid and no lag was noticed. Video quality was good overall and so was the audio quality. Voices were clear and we faced no issues, whatsoever.

Blu-ray playback
During the playback of our test Blu-ray, we observed that this is where one can really make the most of this system. The video quality was excellent and the player rendered the content flawlessly. Dialogues sounded good and one can really immerse themselves in a movie, if viewed on this player. The speakers, though small and cheap in appearance, pack-in quite a punch and the surround sound effect can be felt quite a lot. The subwoofer plays its part in adding the right amount of bass at the right amount of time and there was no separation between the speakers and the subwoofer noticed. They work in perfect harmony with each other.The remote control is sturdy

The remote control is sturdy

Audio quality
We played back a number of genres using this player and we noticed that the overall audio quality was good for a 5.1 channel speaker set priced at this amount. One, however can experience a better audio quality, while using a digital input, instead of analogue as with the latter, the audio appears soft overall.

Performance Continued
The interface is quite easy to understand and one can get used to it within a matter of minutes. Setting up the system is a walk in the park, as all the plugs for the speakers are colour coded. The onscreen guide assists one fully in setting this system up. The 2D to 3D conversion is a neat feature, although one would require a pair of 3D glasses and a 3D capable TV to view the content. The tray for the disks loads quite fast and the time it takes to start up a disk is quick. The remote control is responsive and we did not need to point it directly at the player for it to work. Overall, the performance of the Panasonic SC-BTT270EEK was a lot better than expected.Extremely small and compact

Extremely small and compact

Verdict and Price in India
The Panasonic SC-BTT270EEK home theatre system is available in India at a market operating price of Rs.36,990. This system does exceedingly well in features and has done well performance-wise as well. This is an ideal option for those looking to purchase a Blu-ray home theatre system and not wanting to pay a rather high amount for the same. If one claims to be an audiophile, then this may not be the appropriate choice and would need to opt for a different system that would be priced higher. However, if one wants a system that is a bit cheaper minus the iPod dock and a few other features missing, then the LG HB906TA is an option available for Rs.25,000.

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