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Panasonic launches new soundbars and a 'speakerboard'

Panasonic has confirmed three new, tidier form-factor soundbars and a 'speakerboard' for 2014.

The new products (the SC-HTB18, SC-HTB480 and range-topping SC-HTB880, which was first previewed at CES) are slim enough to be wall-mounted and, according to the company, represent a big audio advance over the models they replace.

MORE: CES 2014 news review – the highlights

Each model is shaped on a triangular cross-section, designed to maintain a slim, wall-mountable profile while offering sufficient space for relatively large speaker drivers.

The SC-HTB880 features 3D and 4K pass-through, allowing it to deliver 3D and/or 4K images to a suitable display, and is configured to deliver 5.1 channels of sound.

The main unit houses front, centre and surround speakers, driven by Panasonic’s second-generation LincsD amplification to a claimed 500 watts power output. It’s teamed with a wireless subwoofer.

MORE: See all our soundbar reviews

Like the SC-HTB880, the SC-HTB480 features a wireless subwoofer and NFC functionality for simple Bluetooth pairing. Unlike the SC-HTB880, though, the SC-HTB480 is a 2.1-channel design with a total of 250 watts of power.

As befits an entry-level product, the SC-HTB18 is a stripped-down affair. 2.1 channel sound, powered by 120 watts of amplification, with a wired subwoofer, the SC-HTB18 is nevertheless Bluetooth-ready (although forgoes NFC).

And for those who’d prefer a physical as well as sonic leg-up for their TV rather than a wall-mounted alternative, Panasonic has announced the SC-HTE180 speakerboard, pictured above (we’ve been calling products like this ‘soundbases’, but no matter).

Designed to support TVs from 42in to 50in, the SC-HTE180 integrates a pair of subwoofers as well as NFC connectivity.

MORE: Best soundbars to buy in 2014

by Simon Lucas

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Joe Cox

Joe is Content Director for Specialist Tech at Future and was previously the Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi?. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? across print and online for more than 15 years, writing news, reviews and features. He has covered product launch events across the world, from Apple to Technics, Sony and Samsung, reported from CES, the Bristol Show and Munich High End for many years, and provided comment for sites such as the BBC and the Guardian. In his spare time he enjoys mixing vinyl and cycling.