Because the tower speakers all come in three pieces, setup is a long-winded process – there’s certainly a lot of screwing involved. You also need to rig up the wireless rear kit (below), which involves finding a free plug socket for the receiver and hiding the cables as best you can (no, it’s not truly wireless). Speaker placement is also trickier than usual given their height and large footprint.
But once you’ve solved these conundrums the rest is plain sailing thanks to Panasonic’s typically friendly onscreen presentation. Menus are dressed in welcoming pastel shades, crisp graphics guide you along and lists are presented in large text. Onscreen wizards make Wi-Fi setup and speaker configuration simple.
It sticks with the same Home menu Panasonic has used for the last few years. It’s a grid of nine options, each one represented by a large square icon. Select one and these squares are quickly replaced by the next level of options. It’s a smooth and attractive system, little wonder Panasonic hasn’t updated it.
In places the GUI feels a little clunky, particularly the blocky media playback menus, but on the whole you shouldn’t have any trouble finding your way round.
During playback you can press the Options button on the remote and investigate the myriad picture and sound tweaks without having to visit the full setup menu. For pictures there are five presets and a User mode that lets you adjust contrast, brightness, sharpness, colour, gamma, 3D and noise reduction. Also included here are Panasonic’s Detail Clarity, Super Resolution, and Chroma Process enhancements.
Individual channel levels can also be adjusted using the dedicated buttons on the remote. This handset is classic Panasonic – simple layout, clear labelling and good use of colour to highlight important buttons. We also like the large rubbery feel of the keys, and the intuitive placement of the direction pad. Just two gripes – the volume buttons aren’t big enough and it’s not backlit.