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Performance and verdict
As ever, Panasonic does a great job of producing the sort of sparklingly deep and detailed pictures that you expect when watching a Blu-ray disc. Edges are incredibly sharp, with nary a trace of stepping or digital nastiness, while motion is fast and fluid, helped immeasurably by its ability to output 1080p signals at 24Hz.
All of these qualities come to the fore when playing the Iron Man 2 disc, particularly the Grand Prix scene – Monaco has never looked so vibrant. The system also does an excellent job of upscaling the DVD disc that accompanies the Blu-ray version, lavishing it in gorgeous, natural colours and surprisingly sharp detail for an SD disc.
Onto sound, and the SC-BT735 doesn’t generate the same sense of wonder as its pictures. Like other Panasonic systems we’ve tested recently, the subwoofer lacks the crucial tightness and control needed to give low-end effects depth without overpowering the other speakers. Loud explosions and crashes, such as the F1 cars raining down in pieces onto the track, sound boomy and detached, but when the sub is unplugged or turned down low it exposes the slightly thin sound of the other speakers.
However, despite these shortcomings there is still much to admire. The sound is generally sprightly and dynamic, with clear midrange reproduction and crisp high-frequencies from every speaker. There are one or two moments of brightness with the volume up high but nothing too serious. Surround sound steering is smooth, effects emerge from the surround towers with an open, expansive feel and the centre speaker handles Robert Downey Jr’s sarky patter with a clear and authoritative tone.
With music, again the ill-disciplined sub dominates proceedings, particularly when you feed it drum-heavy dance music like Pure Gold by JD73. But the crisp hi-hats still manage to fight their way through and we have to admit that the warm, bassy sound is actually very enjoyable.
The SC-BT735 makes a convincing bid for your cash with a wide range of features (including Viera Cast, DLNA networking and a built-in iPod dock) superb high-definition pictures and a typically user-friendly operating system.
For those reasons we don’t think you’ll be disappointed after taking one of these home, although it’s worth bearing in mind that there are other systems from the likes of LG, Samsung and Sony that offer better sound quality, as well as providing HDMI inputs plus better web content and format support.
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