Panasonic SC-BTT282 Review
- Plentiful features
- Excellent pictures
- Easy to use
- Some effects a little brash
- Subwoofer lacks control
- Viera Connect GUI a tad clunky
- Plasticky speakers
- Review Price: £380.99
- 3D Blu-ray playback
- Cinema Surround Plus
- DLNA certified
- Viera Connect
- Built-in Wi-Fi & iPod dock
The Panasonic SC-BTT282 is the step-up version of the SC-BTT182 system we reviewed earlier this year. It’s a 2.1-channel system that aims for maximum movie excitement with minimum living room intrusion, and as ever Panasonic’s usual range of hi-tech features is thrown in for good measure. It boasts a more generous spec than the BTT182, although its £70 premium will take a greater toll on your wallet.
The biggest difference between the two systems is the size of the speakers. The SC-BTT182 came with a pair of basic dinky front speakers, while the BTT282’s are larger and more elegant, fashioned to look like the premium speakers that accompany the flagship SC-BTT590 system, complete with back-sloping stands.
They look great, with a flat front panel that allows you to glimpse the full 6.5cm full-range driver and a fashionable gloss-black finish, which oozes contemporary charm. Not only are they pretty but versatile too – the stands can be removed and the speakers can be flipped horizontally, which may better suit your setup.
On the downside, when you pick them up their build is light and plasticky, which sadly is part and parcel of the affordable all-in-one system experience.
The same goes for the subwoofer, which is a passive model and doesn’t have its own power source – like regular speakers the amplified signal is passed onto it by the main unit. This usually results in inferior performance to an active subwoofer, but again it’s a way to cut costs. On the plus side it’s incredibly compact, which won’t cause you any installation headaches, plus the gloss black styling makes it easy on the eye.
Running the show is the SA-BTT282, a combined Blu-ray player and AV receiver. At 430(w) x 38(h) mm, it’s roughly the same size as Panasonic’s latest Blu-ray players, and should slip into an AV rack with minimum fuss. It doesn’t push the boat out aesthetically, using a simple black box design with a glossy black fascia and a satisfyingly robust aluminium casing, but this anonymous styling makes it easy to match.
Most of the front panel is taken up by a flap that hides an SD card slot and USB port plus play and stop keys (missing on the BTT182), but one section on the right is given over to a cleverly concealed iPod/iPhone dock tray, (also not found on the BTT182).
On the back you’ll find an excellent array of sockets, including the all-important HDMI v1.4 output that’s capable of sending active 3D pictures to a compatible TV and accepting audio from an ARC-equipped TV. Two HDMI inputs are also provided for running other components through the system, which are not found on the SC-BTT182, while optical digital and analogue stereo inputs accommodate other sound sources. The line-up is completed by an Ethernet port, FM radio antenna input, composite video out and a second USB port. This port is solely for use with Panasonic’s optional Skype camera – unlike the BTT182 you don’t need to connect a wireless LAN dongle as this system has Wi-Fi built-in.
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.
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.
After being slightly let down by the scrawny sound quality offered by the SC-BTT182, we were hoping for better things from its bigger brother and thankfully the Panasonic SC-BTT282 is much more pleasing. It’s not world-beating, but comes closer to the quality offered by the excellent SC-BTT590.
To begin, we loaded up Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and skipped to the trusty test scene depicting Hellboy’s battle with the Elemental at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. The scene’s powerful, chaotic action is a test of any system’s mettle, and on the whole the BTT282 handles it with gusto. It’s able to fill the room more easily than you might expect and presents a fairly spacious, detailed stereo soundstage, enhanced by the efforts of Cinema Surround Plus.
There’s an impressive balance across the frequency range, with tinkling glass, dialogue and thumping bottom-end effects all getting equal billing as the scene progresses. The sound is suitably attacking and dynamic, and it’s able to handle loud volumes without sounding too brash. A couple effects, such as the giant plant’s dying screech and the sound of a car being hurled at a helicopter, are a little coarse, but in general it’s easy to get lost in the action – and thankfully the sound has more presence and polish than the SC-BTT182. Dialogue forces its way through the melee too, without sounding thin or nasal.
It teases out a healthy amount of high-frequency detail too, most ably demonstrated as the defeated beast causes plants to grow on buildings – the gentle rustle is clearly reproduced, approaching the level of refinement and polish offered by the SC-BTT590.
If there’s a weakness it’s the subwoofer, which lacks the absolute control, agility and punch that separates a good sub from a great one, and you have to turn its level down to stop action scenes from becoming a boomy mess. But once you do, it integrates fairly well and sounds solid enough.
In terms of picture performance, the SC-BTT282 is an assured performer, feeding our 55in 3D set with beautifully sharp and cinematic images. It renders the finest details with ease and offers phenomenal colour reproduction, not only with vivid hues but also subtly shaded areas, which look smooth and fluid. Its 3D pictures are borderline hypnotic, drawing you in with their depth and clarity – and if they don’t hit the spot straight away the adjustments in the setup menu might garner more satisfying results.
The Panasonic SC-BTT282 is yet another solid 2.1-channel system from the Panasonic stable, offering enjoyable movie sound quality and a generous set of features. If you’re also eyeing up the cheaper SC-BTT182 and wondering if it’s worth paying the extra premium, then the answer is yes – the BT282’s sound quality is miles better, you get more connections and it throws in Wi-Fi and an iPod/iPhone dock. It’s not perfect, and LG’s BH5320F is a more appetising proposition with its eye-catching design and slightly more engaging sound, but in general the SC-BTT282 is a tidy purchase.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 8
|Number of Speakers||3|
|Audio Processing||Cinema Surround Plus|
|Dolby Pro Logic II||No|
|DTS Master Audio HD||Yes|
|Composite Video In||No|
|Component Video In||No|
|Component Video Out||No|
|S/PDIF Optical In||Yes|
|S/PDIF Coax In||No|
|Stereo Line In||Yes|
|Stereo Line Out||No|