Electronics powerhouse Panasonic is on a roll, releasing a slew of stylish and aesthetically-pleasing iPod compatible home audio equipment. Not too long ago, we saw the petite SC-SP100 iPod dock, and today, we have the slick and slender SC-HC4 iPod docking station in our labs. This unit is a real looker and we take a closer look to see if it has the sound to match its fine physique.
Today, more than ever, consumers are picky about design and Panasonic has picked up on that. Following in the footsteps of the handsome SC-SP100 iPod dock, the SC-HC4 cuts a slim and svelte figure and is definitely no slouch in the looks department. If there were a beauty pageant for iPod docking stations, our money's on the SC-HC4.
Slim and wide, the Panasonic SC-HC4 measures a mere 69mm thick at its thinnest point. The center console is a blend of tinted plastic on one side and brushed aluminum on the other. The tinted plastic houses the iPod dock, while the CD player sits behind the brushed aluminum panel.
Apart from its good looks, the Panasonic SC-HC4 is a competent stereo system capable of taking in multiple audio sources. Besides playing music from your iPod device and CDs (even MP3 ones), it can also play music directly from USB flash drives and it even sports an AM/FM tuner.
Getting it to play music from your iPod and CDs was a straightforward affair, but USB playback was a bit frustrating. The problem is that the SC-HC4 will not display the actual name of your music folders, instead opting for its own, odd nomenclature, where it is impossible to tell whether the folder contains music files or data. It will, however, display the track's full name when you play it, which makes it even more puzzling why Panasonic couldn't do the same with the folder names.
A unique thing about the Panasonic SC-HC4 is the employment of bamboo in the the unit's twin 6.5cm cone speakers. Panasonic claims this helps to produce a clearer and more dynamic sound. To complement the music experience, the SC-HC4 also comes with six equalizer presets for users with different sonic preferences - flat, vocals, heavy, rock, clear and soft. Bassheads will be delight to know that there's also a double-bass boost function. For those who want a wider soundstage, there's the surround sound option.
Sonically, the Panasonic SC-HC4 doesn't disappoint. It has a smooth, clear and warm sound and it handled the highs, mids and lows well. Bass is sufficiently punchy and deep, but the highs could do with a bit of sparkle. The surround sound option worked well, but the double-bass boost function gave us mixed results. It seemed to work well only when playing CDs, as trying it anywhere else resulted in a muddied and bloated sound.
Boasting modern good looks and sufficient sonic punch, the Panasonic SC-HC4 is certainly a well-thought compact stereo system. And at S$299, it's good to know that sometimes, the best things do not necessarily cost an arm and a leg.