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DVDs contain a great deal of entertainment, but many people are only getting half of it. Why not just accept that the picture is great and spend some time treating those lugholes of yours? The Panasonic SC-PT870 is a simple home-cinema system in a box, so there's nothing else to buy in order to start enjoying films with 5.1-channel digital surround sound. Just pop a disc in the tray, and off you go.
DVD player with extras
A DVD player isn't a DVD player these days unless it has a multitude of features to keep the youngsters happy. The SC-PT870 is no exception -- it can play back photos, MP3s, DivX and Xvid video files, as well as having a USB socket for portable thumb drives and an iPod dock.
Because it's also a surround-sound decoder and speaker system, you can use it to improve the quality of TV broadcasts, via a digital connection with your TV, or even Sky or Virgin set-top box.
As with all Panasonic's equipment, the SC-PT870 is built to last. It doesn't look like anyone at Panasonic HQ had any fun during the design phase, but that's really not the end of the world, because the SC-PT870 works perfectly the way it is.
The iPod dock is recessed and has to be pulled out of the front of the machine in order to place the iPod in its cradle. This is pretty neat, and keeps everything at the front looking tidy. The disc tray and USB socket are also contained behind little drop-down flaps that keep the machine looking sleek when nothing's connected.
At the back, HDMI and speaker connections provide everything you need to get up and running. The speaker sockets are a sort of pre-moulded plastic design and accept the connector on the end of the speaker cable with relative ease.
While the main DVD player feels to be of quite high quality, the speakers have a slightly cheap feel about them. Exposed chipboard is visible on the subwoofer, which is pretty unforgivable on a £350 unit.
Strangely, the centre speaker seems to be of higher quality, although our perception could just be a result of the fact that the extra shielding gives it more weight. The speaker cables are pretty flimsy too, which could impact sound quality slightly, but, in practice, at this level, it's not a massive problem.