Most helpful critical review
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Decent, but too many limitations
on August 28, 2012
For a Blu-Ray, 3D, 5.1 Home Theater System, in this price range (275 to 325), there are dozens of options here on Amazon alone. Several of the others provide more inputs, some have a higher output wattage, and some have the same features but cost less. So why buy this one? The only thing that stands out are the "tallboy" speakers, which are really just normal speakers that connect to a tall, hollow, plastic pillar, which connects to a plastic platform. That may be important to some, but if you can place your front-side speakers on a shelf, or table, or some other platform, then you may be better off with one of the other products, which will either give you more for your money, or will give you the same for less.
Like a couple other reviewers, mine was also missing the center speaker wire. I read one commenter who wrote that the center speaker wire is taped inside one of the recesses in a piece of Styrofoam, but after a thorough search, I'm certain mine wasn't in the box. I've sent an email to Panasonic customer service, so we'll see how that turns out.
I won't rate the audio quality, since I'm only able to run it without a center channel, but that does bring up an issue that caused me to immediately remove a full star: speaker wires with proprietary plugs. I'll never buy any audio system with that kind of set up; it imposes too many limitations, and if one breaks, you either have to put up with it, or pay an exorbitant price to replace the broken parts, or take it as a loss & buy a whole new system. That's a lot riding on a few small pieces of cheap plastic.. And if this one had terminals with spring clips or binding posts, I could easily be using my own speaker wire to connect the center speaker. But it requires the integrated, proprietary plug, so I can't use it until Panasonic sends a replacement, which could take weeks, or maybe they'll just refuse to send one at all.
Video quality is about what I'd expected for a system in this price range: decent, adequate - no pluses or minuses.
If you buy the proprietary wireless adapter for 40+ dollars, or string a network cable to your router, you can connect to streaming services (Netflix, You Tube, etc.), view Blu-Ray Live content, and access media on a networked PC. All of those things are pretty much standard on most Blu-Ray player & many other devices, so there's nothing special here. There are some limitations to note, though: for images, you can only view JPEG or MPO (I had to look that one up - never came across an MPO image before), and from what I've read in the data sheets & booklets, some audio & video formats can only be read from specific media, for example: you can view MP4 files via a USB connection, but not from a CD, DVD, or SD card; you're limited to *only* JPEG, MPO, and MPEG2 on an SD card; no MPEG2 via USB; to view BD-live content, you are required to insert either an SD Card or USB flash drive, with at least 1GB of free space.
Without even considering the missing parts, I'd give this 3 out of 5 stars. It's OK for the price, and it delivers what it advertises, but with so many limitations, and so much competition, it's just not anything special. If I were in the market for this type of product in the 275-325 price range, this wouldn't even be a consideration, for all of the reasons listed, and then some. However, if I were buying one as a gift for someone who has very few technological needs, I may put this on my list (but it would be dropped from the list the instant I found one that uses standard audio terminals!).