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Panasonic SC-BT207W review: Panasonic SC-BT207W

This is a well-featured system that will produce great looking Blu-ray and DVD images. Sound quality's generally pretty good, just don’t push it too far.

Nic Tatham
4 min read

Panasonic's pretty much going it alone now as the main driving force behind plasma flat panel TVs, while everyone else seems content to flog LCDs. But no matter which screen technology you decide on, a big telly needs accompanying by audio quality to match and Panasonic has quite a few home-theatre-in-a-box (HTIB) systems that'll do just that.


Panasonic SC-BT207W

The Good

Impressive BD image quality. iPod integration. Performs with both movies and music.

The Bad

Doesn’t like playing loud. No wireless PC streaming. Lightweight subwoofer performance.

The Bottom Line

This is a well-featured system that will produce great looking Blu-ray and DVD images. Sound quality's generally pretty good, just don’t push it too far.

Design and features

The new SC-BT207W is a one-stop solution to add Blu-ray and surround sound to your big screen TV. Its 5.1-channel configuration comprises two pairs of column speakers, the rear surrounds being wireless, a 1080p Blu-ray/DVD/CD playing head unit, centre speaker and something known as a Kelton subwoofer, which is a passive device using twin chambers, one of which acts as an acoustic filter. Interestingly for a HTIB system, the front and centre speaker drivers feature bamboo diaphragms, which is the sort of fancy material you'd expect to find in "proper" hi-fi loudspeaker cones.

The head unit will play all the main disc varieties as well as all manner of audio and video files including iTunes, MP3 and JPEGs, plus there's a built-in iPod dock, SD memory card slot and Panasonic's Viera Link gives you system remote control with, say a Viera TV, via HDMI. It also accommodates all of the system's amplification which pumps out some 1000 digital Watts plus all the video and audio processing, encompassing all the major formats like Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio, plus it'll hook up to the net and do BD-Live/Bonus View. Unlike some competitor's HTIB systems at this price, there's no wireless networking, which some users may miss.

The usual wireless rear speaker solution sees a separate receiver that plugs into the 240V mains, with the rear towers plugging into it. This still means wires but using 2.4GHz RF transmission means you don't have to worry about lengthy speaker cable runs to the rear surrounds, especially if you're installing in a larger room. And once everything's in place, the system's auto "Smart Setup" will take care of levels, speaker position, TV aspect ratio, etc. But, like most HTIB systems of this ilk, be prepared to spend some time putting it all together out of the box — the towers need assembling and there are plenty of bits and bobs to contend with, but it all goes together without too much hassle.


For this sort of money, you're justified to expect some fairly serious home theatre action and to a point, the Panasonic delivers. Its Blu-ray image is great — nicely detailed and well resolved — plus the surround sound spread does fill a decent sized room. We kicked off with the rather silly remake BD of Death Race, but great for AV thrills and spills. The Panasonic delivers the action with plenty of enthusiasm — the death race scenes, numerous explosions and outrageous driving stunts whizz around the room and the system places effects well with a real sense of space and presence.

Where it becomes unstuck though is if you nudge the volume. The amp and speakers have their limits and while the slim towers and small drivers can only move so much air, the subwoofer lets them down at higher volumes, unable to deliver really substantial bass. There's no "slam you in the chest" sort of bass weight, but maybe we're being a tad harsh — this is a compact and passive device after all. It really didn't like the super dynamic subsonic rumble of War of the Worlds which resulted in chuffs-a-plenty and the system as a whole is a lot more comfortable with mediocre volume levels and less demanding movie material. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, being such a film, the Panasonic's centre speaker delivered dialogue and other centrally placed effects well, giving voices genuine substance and projecting them with good clarity. Subtle effects were also easily discernible from the mix and the Panasonic generally did a good job opening up movie soundtracks with plenty of mid-range energy.

DVDs looked less impressive, but that's to be expected. Still, upscaled to 1080p, there's ample detail with strong colours and decent contrast and black levels. Most of us still have far more DVDs than BDs, so replay quality is important and the Panasonic's picture quality was always agreeable with negligible video artefacting or other digital video noise.

Not forgetting music duties, the system doesn't mind spinning CDs or crunching MP3s at all. The best sounds from both come with using Dolby Pro Logic II Music decoding and there are various sound modes to tinker with, but we preferred things without any input from its equaliser settings. The bass output can also be varied from one to four — once again don't expect your trouser legs to be flapping in the bass sound waves and watch that volume level to keep distortion at bay.


This is a well-featured system and many will love the iPod integration. It's a logical choice to partner a Panasonic Viera TV, on which it will produce great looking Blu-ray and DVD images. Sound quality's generally pretty good, just don't push it too far and don't expect the sort of dynamic punch that'll blow your socks off — it just doesn't have that sort of cinematic slam.