Panasonic SC-PT860 review

We can pick holes in the performance but they're only small, so focus on the price and functionality of this home cinema system Tested at £300.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

We can pick holes in the performance but they're only small, so focus on the price and functionality


  • +

    HDMI output with 1080p upscaling

  • +

    loads of functionality including an iPod dock

  • +

    detailed surround sound

  • +

    colourful, detailed picture


  • -

    Some noise to tricky edges

  • -

    music is flabby

  • -

    home cinema sound lacks solidity

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Make no mistake, there's a lot of home cinema kit here for £300.

Panasonic not only provides four tallboy floorstanders, a chunky subwoofer and a centre, but as part of the DVD/CD player main unit there's a fold-out iPod dock, a USB input and an onboard FM tuner. An HDMI output and 1080p video upscaling, plus a digital optical input, completes the package.

Up and running, we use our Award-winning 37in TV, the Panasonic TH-37PX80, and get the system to upscale the DVD content to 720p – closest to the screen's native resolution.

Believable surround sound
Watching The Bank Job, the highest compliment we can pay the system is that time flies by, as we're absorbed by what is a second-rate film.

Surround effects are steered confidently, with good integration between the four satellites and a decent level of detail.

The centre channel could offer a little more authority to dialogue and the treble does lack a little quality, but all told it's a thoroughly believable surround sound.

Smooth motion and natural colours
The system's picture does suffer a little from noise around straight edges, and we'd like a bit more insight into deep black levels, but by and large we are again impressed. Colours are natural but vivid, detail levels are decent and motion is smooth.

Switching to the iPod dock – which delivers full functionality via on-screen menus – allows us to just about enjoy some fairly flabby sounds, but, hey, the function's there.

If you're looking to transform your lounge into a cinema on a budget, this is a great value way to do it – the quality can be bettered but for the cash it's hard to grumble.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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