Following Blu-ray's emergence as the next-gen movie format, Blu-ray-in-a-box systems, such as the Panasonic SC-BTX70, have become an increasingly common sight.
Prices vary from entry-level to high-end and the SC-BTX70 sits somewhere in-between. The main unit stands upright, with a sliding panel concealing the disc-loading bay and adjacent iPod dock.
The 'BTX70 is Profile 2.0-enabled and comes with a couple of optical digital inputs and an Ethernet connection that allows you to tap into Panasonic's Viera Cast online content portal.
Virtual 2.1 surround sound
Instead of a complete surround sound package, the 'BTX70 makes do with a 2.1 set-up. This means true surround sound is impossible and Panasonic's '5.1/7.1 surround-like effect' doesn't exactly hit the spot.
Granted, the sound field in the climactic shootout to Mr & Mrs Smith appears wider, but it sounds brighter and less cohesive than it does with virtual surround turned off.
The subwoofer and satellites integrate well, even though the bass box looks like it was pieced together in an arts and craft class.
Images certainly impress
The 'BTX70 main strength is picture quality. Images are clean, punchy and virtually noise-free. Edges are crisply drawn and well-defined with Blu-ray and DVD.
When it comes to the crunch, if you're specifically after a 2.1 system there are cheaper options out there.
Or you could buy a complete 5.1 system such as Panasonic's SC-BT200 that gives near enough identical picture performance and more immersive surround sound for less money.