Heading the Panasonic SC-BTT282 feature list is Viera Connect, Panasonic’s internet content portal. Having had a play recently with Sony’s latest TVs and witnessed the sheer quality and quantity of apps within the Sony Entertainment Network, Panasonic’s selection feels paltry in comparison, yet there’s still plenty to keep you entertained.
Of greatest interest is BBC iPlayer, ably supported by YouTube, Netflix, Acetrax, Twitter and Skype, all found on the first page of the interface. Facebook and less exciting apps are relegated to the second and third pages, while Viera Connect Market allows you to download new services when available. This multi-page system is a bit clunky to use, but essentially it’s a fun, value-adding feature.
The SC-BTT282 also boasts full DLNA compatibility, which means you can stream music, videos, photos and from Windows 7 PCs and other devices on your home network, as well as streaming TV recordings from Panasonic HDD recorders. Non-DLNA devices can be accessed using the separate Network Drive Connection mode in the setup menu. The BTT282’s file support is solid, taking in formats like MKV, AVCHD, DivX, FLAC, WAV, MPO, JPEG and MP3 – all of which can also be played back from USB storage devices (up to 2TB). Additionally you can play AVCHD, AVCHD 3D, MP4, MPEG-2 (SD Video), JPEG and MPO from SD, SDHC and SDXC cards.
Those with a smartphone or tablet can download the relevant Panasonic app and control the BTT282 with the device, as well as accessing media stored on a server using this system as a renderer. It also supports Wi-Fi Direct, which is helpful if you’re out of your router’s range. This range of network features makes the SC-BTT282 feel more like an all-round media hub as opposed to a straight-up home cinema.
But home cinema is the system’s bread and butter, and on that score there are plenty of features designed to enhance your enjoyment. The system decodes Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio, but compensates for its lack of surround channels with 2.1 Cinema Surround Plus, a feature designed to fool the ears into hearing 20 virtual channels theoretically resulting in a more immersive soundstage.
Other audio-related features include Digital Tube Sound, which aims to replicate the warmth of a vacuum tube amp, H.Bass, a choice of equaliser presets, Whisper Mode Surround for late-night viewing and four subwoofer settings. High Clarity Sound Plus is also on board, which shuts down the video circuitry in a bid to achieve a cleaner sound. On the picture side, you get user-defined picture adjustments, Chroma Process, Detail Clarity, Super Resolution and a detailed range of 3D settings (including 2D-to-3D conversion).
Setup takes seconds – simply connect the three speaker plugs to the back of the main unit, boot it up and the installation wizard runs through the core settings. That includes the network setup, which can sometimes be a pain, but the SC-BTT282 makes it simple.
The menu system is beautifully presented, particularly the Home menu and its crisp, vivid graphics. The grid of options is straightforward to navigate, even without the one-touch navigation found on Panasonic’s Blu-ray decks, and the ability to customise it for different users is a nice touch.
Similarly engaging graphics permeate the entire GUI, giving off a generally friendly, welcoming vibe, although as we’ve said before the grey/yellow DLNA and USB playback menus could do with a refresh. We like the Options menu, a pared-down setup menu that allows you to make changes without having to stop the movie you’re watching (not all Blu-ray discs have a resume function). You can easily alter channel levels or switch surround modes using the dedicated buttons and front panel display.
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This slick operation is further aided by the excellent remote. It boasts large rubber buttons which are satisfying to press, plus the shouty all-caps labelling leaves no room for confusion. The layout ensures maximum convenience, with menu and playback keys directly under the thumb, with dedicated keys for Netflix and Skype making life a little easier for regular users of those services.