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CNET First Look
Panasonic SA-BX500Panasonic's cool-running SA-BX500 receiver sounds fine, but it's woefully underfeatured, especially considering its high price tag.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:02 >> I'm John Falcone, Senior Editor at CNET.com and this is the Panasonic SA-BX500. It's an AV receiver and one of the first we've seen from Panasonic in quite a while. The SA-BX500 includes many of the, sort of features we'd expect in a modern receiver including multiple HDMI inputs, decoding for the latest Blu-ray Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio sound tracks and automatic speaker calibration. But it's also got some unique features as well including built-in support for wireless speaker add-ons, a virtual surround function that aims to deliver 7.1-style surround from a 5.1 speaker set-up and a bi-wiring option for compatible speakers. The receiver also has a digital amplifier, which makes it run a lot cooler and way quite a bit less than competing models. The receiver delivered perfectly good sound quality for Blu-ray movies, but that couldn't make up for the key short falls we found in the SA-BX500 as well. The prime offenders: It's got only three HDMI ports, no analogs to HDMI video conversion and no on-screen menu display. We also found that the speaker calibration and virtual speaker function didn't really work as advertised. We could forgive some of these issues if this was an entry-level receiver, but Panasonic has priced this model at a point where it costs hundreds more than competing receivers that offer all of those missing features and more. Given that disconnect, you should steer clear of the Panasonic SA-BX500, unless you can find it at a steep discount. I'm John Falcone for CNET and this is the Panasonic SA-BX500. ^M00:01:46 [ Music ]