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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Panasonic SC-HTB70 Sound Bar

My initial assessment of this unit was 3 stars but then the unit stopped working after three days.  I called Panasonic and they had me unplug the unit and replug it in and it started working again.  The tech told me it is a firmware issue that they are working on.  He had no time frame for the fix.  The current solution is to unplug and plug in each time it fails.  I frankly don't find that much of a solution and thus have downgraded the product to one star.  

This sound bar has more heft than the Phillips that I replaced.  The Phillips had a stand alone sub-woofer which did not produce any better base tones than this Panasonic.  

The setup was not difficult but that isn’t due to the documentation provided by Panasonic.  Their little “manual” jumped helter skelter from topic to topic.  

I did not like the fact that all commands beyond the obvious involve “hold this key for 4 seconds while simultaneously holding this key down” type of controls.   That is cumbersome at best.

The sound is adequate.  It is definitely better than the sound provided by my Toshiba 40” LCD TV but that is not a sterling recommendation as the sound from the Toshiba is just dreadful. 

I do not get a noticeable sub-woofer impact as I get on my surround sound system on a different unit.   The remote is tiny which seems to be normal with the sound bars.   Luckily the main unit does have some side buttons that allow manual use as the remote is so small it may get lost in the shuffle.

I am pleased that I was able to program the standard Comcast Remote to turn the sound bar off, on and change the volume.  You still need to have the Panasonic remote handy for changing source or sound type.  However it will be convenient to just leave it on standard and use a single remote. 

The IR pass through works fine but the manual said it would only work with Panasonic televisions.   You need the IR pass through because if you put any of the three styles of feet included with the sound bar on it, you block the TV remote sensor.  If you don’t use either of the non-flat feet, the sound bar sits with its LED light depicting modes facing the ceiling.  You will probably want to use the IR pass through.

My big beef with all of these people is why they don’t include the optical cable to hook up to the TV.  Optical audio cables are available at Amazon for under six bucks.  Come on vendors, include the cable or at least be up front and clearly state that an optical cable is needed for the best sound experience.  

Lastly they do include both wall brackets and three types of feet.  I would be happier with one less foot selection and an included optical audio cable.

To summarize, this is an adequate sound bar.   The Bluetooth connection will increase its value to many users.  

Panasonic SC-HTB70 home theater system
2.1ch 42” Matching Sound bar with Built-in Subwoofer
Detachable 2.1ch speaker system configuration, with built-in subwoofer, easily conforms to TV screens up to 42”.
Wireless Music Streaming with Bluetooth®
Stream music from your smart device.
Built-in Subwoofer with Dual Woofer Design
Powerful bass sound in a compact, flexible design.
2.1 Channel System
Clear Mode Dialog
Dialog Level Control
Optical Input
Anti-vibration Integrated Subwoofer
Dual Driver Subwoofer
Low Power Consumption
Energy Star® Qualified 120W
Hairline Finish
2-3/16 Slim Profile
Suitable for 42- to 50-inch TV
4-way Multi-Positional Speaker Layout
Auto Gain Control
IR Blaster
Wireless Music Streaming with
Bluetooth® Technology

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

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