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Panasonic SC-BTT195 Blu-ray Home Theater System - Review

Blu-ray, Internet Streaming, and 5.1 Channel Surround Sound

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


Panasonic SC-BTT195 Blu-ray Home Theater System - Photo of Front View

Panasonic SC-BTT195 Blu-ray Home Theater System - Photo of Front View

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The Panasonic SC-BTT195 home theater-in-a-box system combines 2D and 3D Blu-ray Disc playback with a 5.1 Channel audio system that includes two floorstanding "tall boy" speakers for the front left and right channels.

Also included is built-in internet and network streaming, which provides access to either online media content or content stored on your PC or other compatible network connected devices. The SC-BTT195 also provide analog and digital audio input options for accessing audio from additional devices, such as a cable or satellite box. For more details, read my review. Also, after reading this review, also check out my supplemental Product Photos, as well as a sampling of Video Performance Tests.

Panasonic SC-BTT195 Overview

Blu-ray Disc Player Section: The Blu-ray Disc player section of the SC-BTT195 features both 2D and 3D Blu-ray playback capability via HDMI 1.4 audio/video output. Built-in 2D-to-3D conversion is also provided.

Compatible Formats: The SC-BTT195 can play the following discs and media formats: Blu-ray Disc/BD-ROM/BD-R/BD-RE/DVD-Video/DVD-R/-RW/DVD+R/+RW/CD/CD-R/CD-RW, MKV, AVCHD, JPEG, MP3, MP4, MPO, FLAC, WAV, and more (consult user manual for more details).

Video Processing: The SC-BTT195 provides video scaling to 720p, 1080i, 1080p output via HDMI connection (adaptable to DVI- HDCP).

Networking and Internet Capabilities: Direct access to online audio and video content sources, including Netflix, VUDU, Hulu Plus, Pandora, plus additional content accessible via Viera Market.

Also featured is DLNA Smart Home Networking which allows access digital media files from other DLNA network connected devices, such as PCs and media servers.

Skype: Allows audio and video phone calls via connection of compatible Skype Camera, such as the Panasonic TY-CC20W (compare prices)

Product Overview - Receiver/Amplifier Section

Amplifier Description:

Amplifier Output (FTC standard): Front and surround channels, 60 watts x 4, Center channel 90 watts x 1 (measured from 120Hz to 20kHz at 3 ohms impedance with 1% THD. Output for subwoofer channel is 100 watts (measured from 45Hz to 120Hz at 3 ohms, with 1% THD).

Audio Decoding and Processing: Dolby Digital, Dolby Prologic II, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD Master Audio Essential

Additional Panasonic Audio Processing 3D Cinema Surround, 7.1 Channel Virtual Surround, Super Surround, Pop and Rock, Jazz, Classical, Digital Tube Sound.

Audio Inputs: (in addition to HDMI): One digital optical, One set analog stereo.

Speaker Connections: On board connections for Center, Front L/R main, Surround L/R and Subwoofer speakers

Video Inputs: None

Video Outputs: One 3D and Audio Return Channel-enabled HDMI output (same HDMI output referred to in Blu-ray Disc player section overview).

Video Processing: Direct pass-through of video source signals (2D and 3D) up to 1080p resolution, DVD and media upscaling to 1080p. 2D-to-3D conversion capability.

Additional Connections: Built-in Ethernet/LAN, USB, and FM antenna/cable input. WiFi connectivity available via optional USB WiFi Adapter.

Product Overview - Loudspeakers and Subwoofer

Loudspeakers: Impedance - 3 ohms, Frequency Response - 120Hz to 20kHz

Center Speaker: Bass reflex design with two front-facing 2 1/2-inch full range cone drivers, supported by two rear ports to support low frequency response. Dimensions (WxHxD) 11-1/32 x 3-5/16 x 3-3/32 inches, Weight 1.2 lbs.

Front L/R "Tall Boy" Speakers: 2 1/2-inch speaker driver supported by two passive radiators. Dimensions (WxHxD) 11-1/2 x 46-21/32 x 11-1/2 inches, Weight 5.3 lbs.

Surround L/R Bookshelf Speakers: One 2 1/2-inch front-facing driver, supplemented by rear port. Dimensions (WxHxD) 11-1/32 x 3-5/16 x 3-3/32 inches, Weight 1.2 lbs.

Subwoofer (Passive): Bass Reflex design with 6.5-inch side facing driver with additional front mounted port, Frequency Response 45Hz to 120Hz, Dimensions (WxHxD) 5-23/32 x 11-13/32 x 1-0-5/32 inches, Weight 6.6 lbs.

Included Accessories: Quick Start Guide, User Manual, Product Registration Document, speaker wires, remote control (with batteries), "tall boy" speaker assembly screws, wire labels, Main unit power cord, and FM antenna.

Additional Components Used for Performance Evaluation and Comparison

Panasonic SC-BTT195 Blu-ray Home Theater System - Photo of Rear HDMI and AV Connections

Panasonic SC-BTT195 Blu-ray Home Theater System - Photo of Rear HDMI and AV Connections

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705.

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-93 used to play 2D and 3D Blu-ray, DVD, CD, and streaming movie content.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System Used for Comparison: Klipsch Quintet III in combination with Polk PSW10 Subwoofer.

TV/Monitor (2D only): A Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor

Software Used

Blu-ray Discs: Battleship, Ben Hur, Brave, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - A Beach Full of Shells, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

Content Streamed via Netflix: Lockout, Mirror, Mirror, The Grey

Set Up and Installation

Getting started with the Panasonic SC-BTT195 is fairly easy, but does require some minimal assembly.

Speaker Setup

First, open the box and pull out the sections one at a time. Place the Blu-ray Disc player/Receiver combination near your TV, then place the center speaker above or below your TV.

The next step is to assemble the front L/R "tall boy" speakers. You need to attach the section house the speaker drivers to the provided stands and then you you attach the speaker bases to the assemble speaker/stand combination. Place the assembled speakers in the front of room, to the left and right side of your TV.

Now, place the small surround speaker near the back of the room, slightly behind, to the left and right of your listening position.

Next, place the subwoofer in a spot in the room that will give the you best bass response - usually either on on the left or right side of your TV.

Also, if you desire to mount any of the speakers on the wall, you will have to provide your own wall mounting hardware.

Unlike many newer home theater receivers and home theater-in-a-box systems, the SC-BTT195 does not provide an automatic speaker setup system. The option provided to get your speaker levels correct for your room, or personal preference is to this task manually.

To determine if all your speakers are properly connected and active, activate the speaker setup tone and adjust the volume level of each speaker and the the subwoofer. You can always go back later make these adjustments later, which is practical if you find that center channel dialog sounds too low (If find this to be a common issue in many setups).

Internet Setup

Additionally, the SC-BTT195 provides network and internet connectivity via Ethernet cable. Unfortunately, this system does not have a built-in WiFi option, but, frankly, the wired option actually provides a more stable connection, especially for video streaming. However, if you find that your internet router is too far away from the SC-BTT195 for a convenient wired connection, and the router is wireless-enabled, you can purchase an optional USB WiFi adapter (DY-WL5 - Compare Prices) for the system.

Additional Setup

Once you have everything placed everything where you think you want it, and connected, and connect the system to your TV, turn it on the "Easy Setup" will begin. Once that is completed, you can kick back and enjoying your movies and music, or dig into the menus a little deeper to make further adjustments, including both audio and video settings (both 2D and 3D), and also add additional internet streaming content options.

Audio Performance

The two front/right speakers are floor standing "tall boy" types, while the center speaker is a compact horizontal that can be placed above or below a TV.

The center channel speaker correctly anchored dialog and vocals, but needed a little boost to provide more prominence from the left and right channels (I usually set the center channel one or db above the left and right channels).

The left and right front channel speakers projected sound well into the room and provide a wide sound stage and, supported by the two very compact surround speakers, provided the necessary immersive surround sound listening experience you need for movies.

Also, the subwoofer, although not delivering a lot of power output, none-the-less actually produced a smooth low frequency output that wasn't overly boomy, and that integrated seamlessly with the rest the speakers of the system.

The provided Surround Effects (such as 3D Cinema Surround) and Sound Effect Settings (such as the Digital Tube options) add a lot of flexibility as to how you want to setup the characteristics of your listening environment after you have established your speaker levels.

On the other hand, although the speakers and subwoofer performance had its positive points, the sound character of the system was sort of dull, and lacked sparkle in the higher frequencies and depth with transient sound. Also, for music listening, vocals sounded fine, but weren't as full bodied as I would have liked.

In summing up the audio performance the system, it is well suited for smaller rooms and for those that are looking for a modest system that does the job, especially in relation to other systems in its price range. However, it won't blow your socks off.

Video Performance

Panasonic SC-BTT195 Blu-ray Home Theater System - Photo of Remote Control

Panasonic SC-BTT195 Blu-ray Home Theater System - Photo of Remote Control

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The Panasonic SC-BTT195 provided a well-balanced image with very good detail, color, contrast, and black levels with Blu-ray Disc playback. This SC-BTT195 did very well on the Blu-ray Discs I used in conjunction with this review. Also, in viewing several films via Neflix, the system did a good job of scaling and cleaning up the detail and artifacts that are sometimes present.

Also, video performance tests conducted using the Silicon Optix (IDT) HQV Benchmark DVD also bore out that the SC-BTT195 's built-in video processor and scaler did well in most cases including extracting detail, minimizing jaggies accurately deinterlacing 1080i to 1080p, and film/video cadence detection, and about average on video noise reduction.

For a closer look at, and further explanation of, the video processing capabilities of the SC-BTT195 , check out a sampling of Video Performance Tests

Unfortunately, I was not able to evaluate the 3D features of the Panasonic SC-BTT195 on this go-around, as I did not have access to a 3D TV during the time period I had this system in-house for review.

Internet Streaming

Using the oncscreen Viera Connect menu, users can not only access streaming internet content from providers, such as Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, VUDU, and Pandora Internet Radio, but clicking on the Viera Market portion of the menu you can add a host of additional internet streaming services.

Playing the available content is easy, but it is important to note for those that do not have experience with internet streaming - You need a good high-speed internet connection to access good quality movie streaming with digital artifacts and period freezing or buffering. Netflix does have the ability to test your broadband speed and adjust accordingly, however, image quality is compromised at slower broadband speeds.

In addition to broadband speed, there is also a lot of variation in the video quality of the content provided by streaming sites, ranging from low-res compressed video that is hard to watch on a large screen to high-def video feeds that look more like DVD quality or slightly better. Even 1080p streamed content will not look as detailed as 1080p content played directly from a Blu-ray Disc.

Media Player Functions

The Panasonic SC-BTT195 can play audio, video, and image files stored on flash drives or music and still images from an iPod. I found using either a flash drive or iPod via the front mounted USB port was easy, the onscreen control menu loaded fast and scrolling through menus and access content was straightforward.

Also, the SC-BTT195 can also access audio, video, and still image files stored on a network connected PC or media servers, which can be viewed on your TV via the HDMI connection. When selecting this option, you will have access to a control menu, similar that you would see from an iPod or USB flash drive.

Final Take

The Blu-ray Disc player section of the SC-BTT195 offers 2D, 3D, and both internet and network streaming. Playback of both Blu-ray discs and DVDs was very good, and upscaling is near-excellent. Also, the video quality from the streaming sources, such as Netflix, generally looked very good.

The audio portion of the system provides an immersive surround sound field and better-that-expected low frequency response, but did not exhibit as much dynamic range and detail, especially with transient sounds and higher frequencies as I would have liked.

Another thing to point out is that there are no provisions for routing video from external sources through the system (such as from a VCR), but since Blu-ray/DVD/CD and network media playback functions are already built-in, there isn't much need to connect additional video source devices.

The SC-BTT195 is a good option for those looking for a modestly-priced all-in-one system to enjoy Blu-ray, DVD, internet streaming, and to enhance their audio listening experience, especially for movies, in a smaller room environment. For a home theater-in-a-box system in its price class, it is worth consideration.

For more on the Panasonic SC-BTT195, also check out my Product Photos, and Video Performance Test Examples.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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