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Speakers

Panasonic SB-TP1000

The SB-TP1000 looks swish and incorporates some innovative engineering, but the 5.1-channel rather than 7.1-channel set-up does not show off Blu-ray audio at its most impressive.

The SB-TP1000 is the speaker system component of Panasonic's ultimate home Blu-ray set-up, which includes the DMP-BD10 disc player, the SA-XR700 AV receiver and the TH-65PV600A 65-inch plasma television.

Upside
A distinctive feature of the SB-TP1000 is that there is no centre speaker. Reasoning that as TVs get bigger, centre speakers get further away from the middle of the screen, Panasonic has developed a "Twin Centre" design that integrates centre audio into the left and right front speakers. This eliminates the need for a speaker on the floor, which tends to create a gap between the on-screen dialogue and the audio output.

Each speaker houses a PP Mica Graphite Woofer and a titanium dome tweeter for delivering smooth surround sound and treble up to 50 kHz. Inside the subwoofer are two 100-watt amps that power sounds as low as 28 Hz.

The design of the SB-TP1000 is refined and unobtrusive, and blends in nicely with the decadent plasma TV that forms part of the optimum Blu-ray ensemble. Should you not wish to drop the $17,500 on a spanking new screen, the minimalist look of the speaker system will also fit in among your existing set-up. Speakers can even be mounted on the wall if you want to get serious about turning your lounge room into a cinema.

Downside
Well, there's the price. At an RRP of $6,599, this system represents a pretty serious investment.

Another issue is that the SB-TP1000 is a 5.1-channel system. With one of Blu-ray's boasting points being its 7.1-channel sound, this means that the speaker system won't be taking full advantage of the format.

Outlook
With the release of Blu-ray movies still a month or so away -- and only available from distributors who support the format -- early adopters of home theatre optimised for full high-def cinema will have to twiddle their thumbs for a while. Panasonic hopes the backwards compatibility of its components will encourage punters to get in early, but whether people are willing to spend up big on Blu-ray when there's a lack of content available remains to be seen.

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