The DMR-BWT700's Blu-ray playback is just as masterful as Panasonic’s standalone players when it comes to producing hi-def pictures. Dazzling detail clarity and effulgent colours are the order of the day, resulting in a picture that smacks you round the chops with its sheer sharpness, depth and solidity.
The same can be said for 3D pictures, with Panasonic’s proprietary picture tech preserving the subtle detail on the disc and reproducing the layering and picture depth without any major artefacts or glitches. If the image doesn’t suit, simply fiddle with the depth and screen type settings, but leave the screen frame feature well alone.
There are absolutely no complaints with the BWT700’s recording quality. DR recordings unsurprisingly look exactly the same as the live broadcasts, while compressed recordings in HG down to HM maintain a distinct hi-def look despite the lower bitrates used. We captured and compressed tennis from Wimbledon (BBC One HD) and it replayed the action smoothly without much shimmery noise, and kept track of the ball with pin-sharp precision. We didn’t think much of the 2D programmes converted to 3D, but with 3D Freeview channels not coming for a while (if at all) you might be tempted to give it a go.
Sonically, the DMR-BWT700 is never going to satisfy audiophile tastes with so much crammed into this busy unit, but CD playback is pleasant enough even without the enjoyable Digital Tube Sound modes found on the DMR-BWT800.
With a more miserly hard-disk capacity, optional Wi-Fi and a single HDMI output, the DMR-BWT700 doesn’t have quite the same formidable feature set its bigger brother, but at around half the price it’s not an unreasonable trade-off. It’s not the most user-friendly Panasonic product we’ve encountered though – disjointed menus and a terrible EPG are the main culprits – and we’d like to have seen Viera Connect instead of Cast. But there are still loads of features on board, the highlights being DLNA, 3D and Skype, and when combined with comprehensive recording and editing functionality and superb Blu-ray playback it’s still a mightily impressive product.