On the front, the right-hand side of the fascia drops down to reveal an SD card slot and a USB port, and on top is another hidden treat – a built-in iPod/iPhone dock. This is an increasingly common feature among one-box systems, and we’re all for it.
The rear panel includes an HDMI v1.4 output with an audio return channel (or ARC), which means you can pipe sound from your TV to the system via HDMI, as well as sending pictures and sound to the TV, which eliminates the need for two separate cables – but you’ll need a compatible TV to use it. Other AV connections include two optical digital audio inputs, composite video-out and analogue stereo input.
Then we come to the more interesting sockets, such as the Ethernet LAN port and second USB port, which let you connect to your internet router and home network. But for wireless functionality, you’ll need to buy the optional DY-WL10 802.11b/g/n adapter for around £80. We appreciate these extra options, but forking out an extra £180 or so for Wi-Fi and wireless rears is a big ask when you consider that the Samsung HT-C6930W throws it all into the box for no added cost.
But if you can afford it, then it’s worth the investment because when connected this DLNA-certified unit can stream MP3, JPEG and DivX files from Windows 7 PCs on your home network, as well as recordings stored remotely on networked Panasonic recorders. You can also visit Viera Cast’s range of websites including Google Picasa, YouTube and Bloomberg.
You can also play media stored on USB flash drives or SD, SDHC and SDXC cards. The unit supports MP3, JPEG and DivX HD via USB, and MPEG-2, JPEG and AVCHD from SD cards.
As ever, there’s a basic but useful set of picture and sound adjustments. A few presets and a Detail Clarity mode cater for pictures, while Four EQ modes lend different characteristics to the sound, H.Bass enhances low frequencies, Centre Focus shifts speech toward the TV screen and High Clarity Sound sharpens up audio through the HDMI port.
Like any good all-in-one system, the SC-BT330 makes it easy for you to set up and use. The Quick Start mode makes it speedy to boot up, and for first-time installation you get a step-by-step guide for all the main settings.
This includes a Smart Setup auto calibration mode that sets the optimum audio parameters using a microphone and test tones (the speakers can be manually tweaked in the setup menu if you’re not satisfied with the results). Also included in these initial settings is the blissfully straightforward network setup procedure – this can be a real chore on some players.
In fact, the SC-BT330’s operating system is remarkably slick and easy to follow across the board. For example, the Start menu makes it obvious where your content is located (under the ‘Input Selection’ option), and during Blu-ray, music and photo playback the bold, colourful displays are presented in the clearest way possible.
Panasonic also sticks with a tried and trusted formula with the remote, using an array of large rubbery buttons laid out in a thoughtful way. Helpfully, it sports individual buttons for accessing Viera Cast, pop-up menus and the various sound modes.