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on December 1, 2012
Alright, here's a completely honest review from a guy who's been shopping around for a good entry level system. I am in my 20's, newly married, and not able to afford an elaborate home theater system at this stage in my life. If you want a fancy system with every last up-to-date bell & whistle, then I would say search elsewhere, but if you are looking for great sound for a really low price, then look no further. For the $200 I paid on, I couldn't be happier. Following are some things I would like to comment on, and even though this is a long-ish review, I sincerely hope it is helpful to you or that some of the tips make this item even better! Just know that I am so pleased with the value I got from this system that I felt compelled to write a lengthy review, so that should be a testament to its quality! :)

1. This system is a Home Theater In-a-Box. Therefore the speakers plug directly into the blu-ray player itself. No need to worry about buying a separate receiver. That said, because this is an entry level system not designed to be a big receiver, the input options are very anemic; there is only one optical input and no HDMI inputs. This however, is not necessarily a problem as some people complain it is. My TV has enough HDMI inputs for the player, my DirecTV satellite box, and my Xbox 360. From the Xbox and the DirecTV cable box, I have an optical Toslink cable plugged into a separate optical cable switcher I got for ~$5 at Monoprice, and this is wired directly into the receiver. This way, I preserve the 5.1 surround sound output from each device. This is the ONLY way to do this if you want to preserve your 5.1 output. Simply plugging HDMI's into your TV, then having one optical cable run from your TV to the 5.1 system will not work as TV's can't strip the 5.1 sound from the signal and pass it through. You will get sound, but not 5.1 surround sound. So if you are buying this for use with more than one other peripheral, I would recommend picking up a couple optical cables and a switcher. Cables are only $2-3, and the switcher is only $5 as I said before.

2. Sound: It is INCREDIBLE for this price. I have a mid-sized loft where everything is set up. Despite it not being an enclosed room, the speakers still fill the room with tremendously rich, full sound. I can't even turn the volume up over 50% for fear my ears would burst. And this is coming from a 20 something year old guy who most of you probably thing would stereotypically play music too loud. I have my equalizer set to "heavy" which doesn't make things louder, just more full, and I have the 3D cinema surround sound feature turned on. It is truly AMAZING. NOTE: I have seen others complain that this device doesn't come with all the speakers working, or that they don't work all the time. Well, respectfully, there is a good reason for that. To take advantage of a 5.1 system, your blu ray, TV show, game, or whatever, needs to be coded with a 5.1 soundtrack. If your media only has a stereo source, sound will only come out of the side speakers, not the front, and depending on your settings, it will only be quiet coming from the back. Make sure you have a 5.1 source! This item has the latest decoders, and will support media with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Pretty awesome.
*One confusing thing in the product description is that it says it has wireless back speakers. This is a bit confusing, as the back speakers are indeed wired. What it means is that there is an extra accessory you can buy to make them wireless, if you wish.

3. Picture: Again, the picture, on an HDTV of course, is incredible! I don't have a 3D TV, so I can't comment on that aspect of this system, but the colors are sharp, blacks have good contrast, and images really pop out at you. Not to mention, the blu ray discs themselves load VERY fast. The player is also able to upscale DVDs to near 1080p, and the effect, while not as good as a BD movie, is excellent. Not much else I can describe about it, you need to experience it for yourself!

4. Network: This is a WIRED system, so if you are looking for wifi, you'll either have to buy an adapter or look for a different model. For me, this is no problem. My home's wireless router sits right next to the television, so I don't mind having a wired system. Again, if you are looking for more features, you'll need to spend more money, but for what you pay for this system and what it gives you, it's incredible. I would like to mention I'm not a huge fan of the Viera Connect interface, which you use to stream internet content. It feels sluggish to me, and a lot of the apps need a facelift, ESPECIALLY the Amazon Prime Video app. It would be really nice if that app would stream 5.1 sound too. (Are you listening Amazon?? haha). But each app does however do what it is supposed to do, and this system makes good use for streaming Netflix or etc.

5. Set-up: Took me only a 1/2 hour. It's a simple as plugging in wires to their correct spots. I set up the front/surround speakers on stands I bought for only $10/pair from Monoprice. The speakers have really nice slots in the back that make mounting on screws really easy. I did have to buy some extra 16-gauge speaker wire, because even though they do give you a lot of wire to work with, my room had an awkward shape that required extra length of wiring so I could place the speakers in the proper spot. But overall, didn't take me long at all to get everything going.

6. Remote: A little frustrating that I can't get the supplied remote to work with my Samsung HDTV, but I was easily able to use my universal DirecTV remote with the system. My DirecTV remote now can control my TV, DirecTV box, and the Panasonic system. So when I'm watching DirecTV, I don't need a ton of different remotes to control everything. I simply use the volume on the same remote I would have used anyways to control DirecTV, and I can control the volume on the entire surround system. The only thing I need the Panasonic remote for is when I initially turn the speakers on. It is annoying that every fresh boot up of the system takes you to the main menu by default; I wish it would remember your last setting. But all you have to do is push ONE button (the input selector labeled "iPod" after the system turns on and you will hear your television. That's what you'd have to do for a typical surround sound system with a separate receiver anyways. Easy as anything.

7. OTHER ITEMS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER BUYING WHEN PURCHASING THIS: This may be obvious to some, but if you are a newbie, here's an easy list of what else to buy:
-HDMI Cord (to hook into your TV)
-16-gauge speaker wire (for extra flexibility in wiring)
-Speaker stands/wall mounts
-Optical cord switcher
-One optical cord for every other peripheral you plan to connect + one extra to run from the switcher to the box.
This may sound like a lot extra, but each is very cheap on, or you can look at Monoprice which is extremely inexpensive.

Like I have said from the beginning, if you are looking for more options or flexibility, you may want to look elsewhere. But if you are like me and don't have a lot of money to spend on something like this, the Panasonic SC-BTT190 truly is the best bang for your buck. It does everything some of the more expensive systems do and then some. I am very VERY pleased, and can't believe I got something this quality, brand-new, for only $200. If you see a higher price, maybe it'll come back down, I don't know, but either way, I would have been willing to pay more. Please take my word for it, I am extremely satisfied!

UPDATE (12/27/13): Someone commented on my review, so it brought my attention back, and I'm glad to see this review has been so helpful! Just as an update, I've been using this system for over a year now and I feel it is still worthy of my original 5 star review. I've had no problems whatsoever and am very happy with how it has served those rare moments when I can enjoy being a couch potato. And the price is even better now than when I bought it, so while I obviously haven't looked into the newest or comparable systems , for $170, this is a great buy!
268 helpful votes
269 helpful votes
2626 comments|Report abuse
on September 20, 2012
The system is one of the better mid range Home Theater in a Box setups. Build quality is on par for what you are paying for it, which is really a polite way to say it doesn't suck, but you won't change anyone's religion with the quality. The front "Tall Boy" speakers are my main gripe, they should be named skinny, anemic, fragile, wobbly boy speakers, but I suppose that would tough to fit on the box. Their plastic mounting stands seem a little flimsy and even screwed together and placed properly they tend to feel fragile like they could snap in two with marginal force. I'd caution having them anywhere near young children or any other bouncy kinetic forces that could snap them. That being said the sound quality is, quite frankly..amazing. With the fine tuning options in the Audio setup, finding that sweet spot on sound is relatively easy. The Highs and Mids are crisp, and the lows are punchy, even in content not optimized to use the 5.1 setup, it sounds good. The Image quality and 3D abilities are crisp and vivid.

The setup from unpacking to enjoying content is about 15 minutes with minimal fine tuning. The two HDMI In ports are a nice touch and allow you to connect a Set Top Box or Game console and take advantage of the Theater's sound. The ports are cleverly labeled "In" in case there is any confusion between "In" and "Out". The speakers connect to the Theater using a proprietary plug that is color coded, so even if you sustain crippling brain trauma while setting the system up, you should be able to drool your way to a fine home theater experience. The functionality when paired with a Panasonic TV with VIERA Connect is nice as the devices talk to one another regarding proper settings, although I've never remained in the room long enough to see if they discuss anything else, presumably not.

All in all the product was worth exactly the price I paid for it, and overall i'm satisfied with the purchase.

Excellent Sound Quality
Crisp Clean Image Quality & 3D so lifelike you reach for Jessica Alba on the screen.
Extra HDMI Inputs.
Box makes an exceptional hat.

Flimsy front speaker stands.
Jessica Alba not actually reachable via Home Theater Unit.
237 helpful votes
238 helpful votes
1212 comments|Report abuse
on July 9, 2012
I'm satisfied that this unit delivers what it promised - improved sound on a Viera link equipped television. Unlike the previous reviewer, my Direct TV remote controls both the tv and the home theater system and both turn on together. I don't need the tiny home theater remote. The sound is a noticeable improvement over the built-in speakers, which frankly, are poor on my 65" Panasonic TC-P65ST30 plasma. Even my wife immediately noticed the difference, saying it sounds like a movie theater. I wouldn't go that far, but it is much better and for the price, a good deal. Won't blow you away, but makes watching tv or a DVD more enjoyable. btw, I thought I needed an optical audio cable, so I also ordered one from Amazon, but it wasn't necessary. Cheap HDMI cable worked just fine. Would recommend at least a 6' foot HDMI so you can place the subwoofer at either side of your tv, not just the side that is closest to the HDMI output.

The only reason I didn't give it five stars is I wish there had been an on-screen display of the bass and treble settings. You have to decipher the flashing light code on the subwoofer to get a rough approximation of the settings, but I guess it does force you to pay more attention with your ears than your eyes.
55 helpful votes
56 helpful votes
11 comment|Report abuse
VINE VOICEon December 30, 2012
I wanted a simple sound bar that had Audio Return Channel (ARC) and Viera Link for my 2012 Panasonic TV. The HTB20 met all my needs. It is a excellent value for the price. With Viera Link, I only need one remote, the TV speakers automatically mute, the home theater volume displays on-screen and units turn on and off together, so easy!

I do have one problem with the HTB20 and one piece of advice. The advice is that on 2012 Panasonic TVs, not all HDMI inputs are created equally. Only one HDMI input is marked HDMI (ARC). So just ensure the HDMI from the sub-woofer is plugged into the right input on the TV, otherwise you may think the system isn't working correctly.

The problem with the HTB20 is the speaker wire from the soundbar plugs into the subwoofer with flat plugs, which might be proprietary to Panasonic. If you need longer wires, you cannot run down to Radio Shack. I looked at the plugs and they do not unscrew apart, so you can't McGyver the plugs onto longer wires. I called Panasonic and they only sell replacement wires, not longer wires. The price? Hold your breath, it's $27.20 for thin generic speaker wire and some really expensive plugs. After connecting the wires to the speaker bar, you will have 9'4" of wire left to run to the subwoofer. It should be enough for most users, but I had to route the wires in back of a wall unit and then out to the subwoofer. Because of the wire length, I couldn't place the sub-woofer exactly where I wanted it.

I've attached a photo of the plugs to the Amazon product page. Perhaps someone will recognize them and can suggest where to buy them. Two Radio Shacks and a Frye's electronic supply store had never seen them before.

Except for the speaker wire plugs, I like this soundbar very much.

Update Feb 10, 2013. The price for the HTB20 fluctuates wildly depending on whether Amazon has it in stock or not. If sold by a third party vendor, it can be almost 40% more at $220+ with shipping. At that price, it's no longer a bargain and I'd pay a bit more for a system with a wireless sub-woofer, like the Panasonic HTB550
review image
32 helpful votes
33 helpful votes
33 comments|Report abuse
on April 27, 2012
System works great and I could not be happier. I also purchased the Panasonic SH-FX71 Wireless Rear Speaker System with two extra speakers. This thing connects to the Panasonic SC-BTT490 3D Blu-Ray Disc 5.1 Surround Sound Home Theater System and I can add two more speakers the the system. It also runs just under the 2.5Ghz of most wireless phones and has the same range. So I can play music from my iPhone (which connects to the Home Theater System) and extend the music anywhere in the house or back yard. Also I can place those two extra speakers behind my 5.1 system and essentially have a 7.1 system. Though I really just use the two extra speakers to extend my music outside the reach of the Home Theater System.

Also I use WiFi for the Panasonic SC-BTT490 3D Blu-Ray Disc 5.1 Surround Sound Home Theater System and have had no problems. You get free games, and if you are an Amazon Prime member a bunch of free movies.
57 helpful votes
58 helpful votes
44 comments|Report abuse
on June 23, 2012
VERY HIGH:LY RECOMMENDED! This system is incredible...

That said, initially, I was so disappointed that I was began shopping for a replacement. After reading another Panasonic review, I easily found the SOUND section on the HOME display and switched it to heavy as recommended. WOW! It's like a completely different system. PHENOMENAL and I thank this reviewer and AMAZON for great products, great product support and for providing this kind of information in reviews. I AM ECSTATIC and highly recommend similar Panasonic systems without reservation.

Easy to install and connect - great price, humungous sound (how do they do that with these little speakers?) - and A GREAT VALUE.
91 helpful votes
92 helpful votes
66 comments|Report abuse
on July 19, 2016
Terrible product. Not only is it cheap, the ARC is inconsistent, and the back speakers wires were way too short. On top of that, the customer service at Panasonic was atrocious.The phone line kept me going in a constant loop, and when I finally spoke to someone, they were clueless. I was asking how to extend the wires for the back speakers and got nothing but "We would not be able to advise you on altering the cables in anyway." Altering? I want to add an extension. On top of that, the menus look like DOS or something from the inception of the computer. What year are we in? DO NOT BUY THIS. You're so much better off spending a little more and getting something much more worth it. This thing is trash.
4 helpful votes
5 helpful votes
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on August 13, 2016
I was so excited to get a great set of speakers for a I'm home karaoke system. At first when the package arrived, I was very disappointed, I wasn't expecting a DVD player. I didn't even give it a chance before I decided to return it. To avoid the hassle of returning I hooked it up and thoroughly suprised by the amazing sound quality. The DVD player was just a bonus.
The sound is crisp and the bass is amazing, maxium volume on the DVD player and karaoke machine and there is no loss of sound. No scratchy bass.

Overall I love it, the guy replying to my return emails may hate me but the rplies were quick and helped answer many questions I had. Great product, great customer support, great speakers, great everything.
3 helpful votes
4 helpful votes
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on April 14, 2013
(Updated 20-July-2014)
The major problem (mentioned by others) is that it will reject some Blu-ray disks with a message "This disc is not compatible for playback", or sometimes "Copyright violation" (even on the same disk). I've worked around this problem by connecting a Panasonic Blu-ray player (DMP-BD75) to the HDMI-1 input connector, but both the home theater and Blu-ray player respond to the same remote making it tricky to control the player.

Another problem is the supposed DLNA compatibility. I have connected to a computer with WINDOWS 7, and it is not clear what MPEG formats are "supported" by the home theater system. Some play, and others do not. .MOV files (videos from my Canon Rebel T4i) will play the video, but no audio. The same .MOV files play audio and video on the DMP-BD75 Blu-ray player with a DLNA connection, which tells me it is a firmware problem on the home theater system. Panasonic support (through chat, e-mail and telephone) was worthless in providing a solution.

I also had a major problem in trying to use the YouTube function. I can play videos from YouTube without logging in to my YouTube account, but when I attempt to login, I get a message "invalid username or password". From my computer, I receive an e-mail that an invalid login was rejected from India! Again, Panasonic tech support was worthless in trying to resolve this problem.

It would appear that there are to be no further firmware updates for this unit, so I've edited my original review. I will not be purchasing any Panasonic equipment in the future.

What follows is my original review from last year:

Very good sound reproduction (better than the LG system it replaced). I don't have (and don't plan on getting) a 3D television, but all the newer 5.1 home theater systems have 3D.
I especially like the add-on feature of 7.1 sound, if I decide to purchase the wireless adapters for 2 additional speakers.
This system's remote is much better than the LG since my TV is a Panasonic.
The iPod dock is almost worthless with 5th generation iPod (and iPhone, I imagine). It just barely works with photos and music, but forget videos.
I find it annoying that there is no OPEN/CLOSE for the blu-ray tray on the remote - it's a pain to have to go to the console to eject or change the disc.
The other minor nuisance is that the display is difficult to see from across a 12 foot living room. I have to get within about 4 feet to see it clearly.
3 helpful votes
4 helpful votes
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on November 14, 2012
I just needed some forward facing speakers to replace the rear facing speaker on my Panasonic TV's.

Setup was painless. Hook a cable or two from the TV to the subwoofer and the included two speaker wires. In the TV's menu, verify "VIERA Link" HDAVI Control "power on" and "power off" is set to on, and switch "default speakers" from TV to home theater. Now the unit/subwoofer is controlled by the TV (on / off and volume, etc.) and no longer needs a remote control and can be placed out of sight.

I guess my expectations with consumer electronics are not very high these days. But. Cheap and it works?, WOW! Now I can watch & hear the evening news without 7.1 surround sound turned on, great!

I would have given it 5 stars if they had included a set of brackets that would have snapped onto the bottom of a Panasonic plasma TV.

As my TV's are wall mounted, I used the "unused L bracket" from the TV's stand to mount the speakers to, with a couple of screws. I when installed the bracket and speakers to the TV's bottom side using only the brackets upper mounting holes to the TV's lower attaching screws locations to gain the needed gap between the TV and speakers.
4 helpful votes
5 helpful votes
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