The SC-BTT880 does everything you’d expect from a Blu-ray system, such as playing 3D discs and DVDs (upscaling the latter to 1080p) and decoding Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks. It also converts 2D pictures to 3D, potentially breathing new life into your DVD collection. Power output is quoted as 1000W, mustered by Panasonic’s new distortion-reducing LincsD amp.
As per usual there’s a wealth of network-related features on board, chief among which is Viera Connect, Panasonic’s internet content portal. In a nutshell it provides a range of video, music and on-demand movies through third-party apps. Other apps can be added from the Viera Market.
The line-up boasts a few gems like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, Skype, Facebook and Twitter, but it’s not a patch on Samsung’s line-up, which boasts the four big catch up TV services – BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5. LG’s selection is also superior, throwing LoveFilm into the mix.
Our other gripe is that the interface now seems tired and cumbersome, spreading apps over several pages when one would do just fine. Thankfully all the main apps are on the first page and you can rearrange them, but it’s hassle that most people can do without.
DLNA certification allows you to stream music, video and photos from devices on your home network. Video format support is fairly good, playing AVCHD, XviD, AVI, WMV (including old versions of the codec) and MP4, although it won’t play DivX or stream MKV over a network (MKV is only supported via USB or disc).
Supported music formats include MP3, FLAC and WAV but not WMA or AAC, while JPEG and MPO photos can also be viewed. You can also play AVCHD, MPEG-2, MP4, JPEG and MPO from SD, SDHC and SDXC cards.
If you don’t want to go through a router, Wi-FI Direct makes it possible to beam files straight from a wireless device. You can also control the system and stream music using an Android or iOS device running Panasonic’s free Viera apps.
Elsewhere Panasonic’s 3D Cinema Surround aims to expand sound vertically and horizontally by mixing 25 virtual speakers with the five real ones. Other sonic enhancements include 7.1 Virtual Surround, Digital Tube Sound, Re-Master, Dolby Pro Logic II, Super Surround, H.Bass and Centre Focus, as well as four EQ settings and four subwoofer modes.
An excellent set of features then, but there’s one glaring omission – Bluetooth. It’s found on rival flagship systems from LG and Samsung, as well as some of Panasonic’s soundbar systems, which makes it all the more confusing as to why it’s not included here.