The BTT775’s manual reads like an A-Z of everything that’s cool in the world of home entertainment. Wireless media streaming, internet access, Wi-Fi, 3D, iPod support, multimedia support via USB and SD cards – you name it, this system does it.
The system’s built-in Wi-Fi (with support for 802.11b/g/n) is as convenient and cost-effective as ever – Panasonic charges around £80 for the wireless USB dongle needed on its cheaper systems so getting it as part of the package is always preferable. It makes network setup blissfully simple – helped along by the brilliant, graphics-heavy onscreen menus – and allows you to stream music, video and photo files from Windows 7 PCs on your home network. But the really clever bit is that the system can talk to DLNA compatible Panasonic recorders (like the DMR-BWT800) and stream TV recordings.
The system can stream a healthy range of media formats, including DivX HD, MKV, MP3 and JPEG, and play them from USB devices. Slot an SD, SDXC or SDHC card into the front and you can additionally play MPEG-2 SD Video, AVCHD, JPEG and MPO, but that slot is also required if you want to sample the delights of BD Live (also available over the Wi-Fi connection, obviously).
We’ve done a lot of grumbling already this year about the inclusion of Viera Cast over the new Viera Connect on Panasonic’s Blu-ray gear, and sadly that’s the case again here. The interface itself isn’t the problem – it’s pleasant to use, looks great and streams videos with minimal stuttering – but the content is slightly past its sell-by date. With YouTube, Twitter, Picasa, Acetrax and Bloomberg on board, it’s never going to beat Sony’s comprehensive line-up, which includes several catch-up TV services. Just adding BBC iPlayer would have been enough.
But there is salvation in the form of Skype, which allows you to make video calls without the aid of a PC. All you need is Panasonic’s communication camera, which plugs into that USB port on the back panel and sits on top of your TV. There are several convenient features, including the ability to leave video messages, but on the downside the camera costs around £120.
The 3D features are the same as Panasonic’s standalone Blu-ray players, offering the same selection of 2D-to-3D conversion – with so few 3D discs available, this is a welcome inclusion, although results have been mixed – and a range of adjustments that allow you to make the 3D image more comfortable to watch, including the screen frame feature.
The SC-BTT775 is as easy to use as other systems in the range. The newly revamped main menu is as attractive as it is intuitive, using an engaging colour palette and cute icons. Navigating around the various options is a breeze as each page loads up in a flash, while the logical grid structure means it’s never difficult to find anything. It’s only a shame that the wide range of options means Panasonic had to abandon the ‘one-touch’ operation of its standalone players. Using the remote is a cinch thanks to its sensible button layout, terrific colour coding and clear labelling.
There’s a comprehensive range of settings, including sound modes, EQ settings and manual speaker adjustments. Cinema Surround Plus is the audio highlight, giving the soundstage a sense of height using 11 virtual speakers in the vertical plane and six in the horizontal plane. On the picture side, presets and enhancements like Chroma Process, Detail Clarity and Super Resolution help you fine tune the image.