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April 14, 2011

Panasonic SC-BT230EB-K Blu-Ray 5.1 Home Cinema Review

by Franz Bicar

If you’re looking for a Blu-ray player but strapped for cash, then you might want to take a look at the Panasonic SC-BT230EB-K Blu-ray 5.1 Home Cinema. Not too expensive, just the right price with solid features and great quality.

The SC-BT230EB-K is an all-in-one Blu-ray player and 5.1 surround-sound system, complete with tiny satellite speakers.

Out of the box, you have the player weighing around 3.1 kg and measuring approximately 430mm wide and 54mm in height. It has a black and shiny finish with a very simple front panel. In addition to that, you have five satellite speakers and one sub-woofer.

At the back you’ll see the different connectivity options composed of one HDMI port, one Composite output, a 3.5mm Headphone jack, 2 Optical outputs, a LAN port, and a USB port. Pretty bare for some people, but with the SC-BT230EB-K ‘s price, who can complain? An additional HDMI or USB port wouldn’t hurt.

The SC-BT230EB-K is also a DLNA device which allows it to communicate with other electronic devices which are also DLNA certified. What does that mean? Well, it means that the player has the capability to play and stream videos or music from another DLNA device that will act as the server - your PC for example.

If you plan on getting the Panasonic SC-BT230EB-K, then you should know the pros and cons of this product.

With the SC-BT230EB-K, at around £217, you get an average priced Blu-ray player that can compete with the more expensive units out in the market.

The SC-BT230EB-K’s video performance is also worth mentioning. While not exceptional, its video performance is comparable to the more pricier models. Blu-rays can be played at Full HD 1080p resolutions at 24fps, while DVDs are neatly upscaled. Also, not only does it faithfully reproduce details of Full HD movies in 1080p as filmmakers intended, concert and documentary films saved in 1080i are now reproduced in greater detail than ever before.

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 instance, it also has 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.

As mentioned the SC-BT230EB-K is a DLNA device. 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.

As for the negative aspects of the SC-BT230EB-K, there are a few things that you might need to know before deciding on the product.

The satellite speakers are small and discreet, but how you place them might be somewhat of an issue. Panasonic is using its proprietary connectors for its speakers and the SC-BT230EB-K’s speakers have surprisingly short wires. The proprietary connectors ultimately give users a hard time in looking for replacements - longer wires.

Also, the speakers lack the oomph for a 5.1 surround setup. Movies tend to feel flat because of this. In fact, there are 2.1 sound systems that I know who has more punch than the SC-BT230EB-K’s speakers. The bigger issue here is that the passive sub-woofer just can’t deliver those heart-stopping thumps we’d expect in a film.

Overall, Panasonic has made sure that the sub is balanced against the speakers, so that bass doesn’t overwhelm everything, but it us wishing for a little more rumble and punch to low noises, such as explosions.

Having mentioned all that, I’m pretty sure that is enough information for you to make your decision on the Panasonic SC-BT230EB-K Blu-Ray 5.1 Home Cinema.



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