Blu in a Box
You know that keen DVD-powered Home Theater in a Box you got for Christmas? It is my solemn duty to tell you that it has been superseded. HTiBs have been a hot category for years, mainly equipped with DVD head units, but more and more companies are pulling the DVD drives and replacing them with Blu-ray. I suspect that days are numbered for any DVD HTiB priced more than $700. All the high-priced HTiB action is on BD. Case in point is Panasonic's first Blu-ray HTiB, the SC-BT100.
This 5.1-channel system, priced at $1,000, cleanly installs with two wireless surround satellites. The satellites measure a modest 12 x 5 x 4.5 inches, and are wall-mountable. The system can be boosted to 7.1 channels by adding two more wireless satellites and a transceiver ($199).
The system features DVD upscaling to 1080p, HDMI A/V connectivity, optical digital-audio output, and an analog audio input (but no video inputs). The system decodes Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, DTS-HD High Resolution, DTS-HD Master Audio, and LPCM. The subwoofer contains both an active driver and a passive radiator. A Whisper mode dynamically boosts bass and and surround levels to maintain surround fidelity at low listening levels. Power is rated at 472 watts with 1% THD.
The onboard BD player uses the 1.1 Profile, and provides 24 fps output. An iPod dock displays iPod menus on a connected TV. It plays all-generation iPod video except from iPhones. You'll also find an SD card slot and support for standard or high-def AVCHD video playback. The SC-BT100 will ship in June. Start figuring out which of your kid sisters gets your old DVD HTiB.-Ken C. Pohlmann