Many of the SC-BTT350’s features are imported from Panasonic’s standalone Blu-ray players. They include access to Viera Cast, Panasonic’s easy-to-use online portal, which currently offers such delights as YouTube, Picasa, Dailymotion and Bloomberg. The system is also DLNA-certified, which means you can also use the wired or wireless Internet connection to stream music, video and pictures from Windows 7 PCs (or recordings from Panasonic HDD recorders) using a series of effortlessly clear folder-based menus. The system will also play DivX Plus HD, MP3, MKV and JPEG from USB sticks.
Also worth a mention is its support for wireless rear speakers, but you’ll need to stump up £100 for the wireless kit. With this installed, rear channel information is beamed from a digital transmitter connected to the main unit to a receiver at the back of the room hooked up to the rear speakers, saving you the hassle of hiding long cables. You can even add a second SH-FX71 kit with an extra pair of speakers and upgrade to a 7.1-channel system.
Also on board is Panasonic’s regular array of sound modes, which includes Dolby Pro Logic II, 7.1-channel Virtual Surround, H.Bass, Center Focus and Whisper Mode Surround. They’re joined by four EQ settings – Flat, Heavy, Clear (our favourite) and Soft – four subwoofer settings and manual volume adjustments for each channel, which are useful as there’s no automatic calibration. There’s also a choice of picture presets sensibly accessed from an in-playback ‘Display’ menu so you can instantly see what effect they have on the movie. The same menu offers a few more AV enhancements, such as Detail Clarity, Dialog Enhancer and Re-master, which boosts high frequencies for music.
Like most of Panasonic’s systems, the SC-BTT350 is easy to use thanks to its clear, colourful onscreen displays and excellent remote, which is almost toy-like in its simplicity. In general, there’s a speed and slickness about the way the system works that makes for a satisfying user experience. The logical layout of the setup menu makes initial installation a breeze, while the main ‘Start’ menu is attractively presented. During playback, you can access the Display menu mentioned above as well as a separate Options menu that brings up a list of other frequently used functions to save you stopping the movie.