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Panasonic SC-BTT350 review

Ben Pitt
28 Oct 2010
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Panasonic SC-BTT350
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
370
inc VAT

Format support could be better but its solid set of features, excellent sound quality and compact dimensions are superb for the price.

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The first thing to strike us about Panasonic's entry-level home theatre system is how small it is. Despite housing a six-channel amplifier, the main unit is slimmer than most dedicated Blu-ray players. The speakers are tiny too, with both the satellites and the subwoofer dwarfed by competing systems.

There are positives and negatives in its list of features. It's great to see Blu-ray 3D support, ready for when 3D TVs become affordable. An iPod dock is mounted under a flap at the front of the player, although its location means you'll need 10cm headroom above the player in order to use it. The lack of HDMI inputs makes it harder to use the speakers with other devices such as a TV box or games console. It's not hard to use the optical S/PDIF and analogue phono inputs but it's not as neat. However, this HDMI 1.4a output socket supports Audio Return Channel (ARC) – as long as the TV supports this too, you could use the TV as the hub for all your devices and pipe audio back down the HDMI cable to the BTT350's speakers.

Panasonic SC-BTT350

There's no internal storage for BD-Live content, so you'll need to pop an SD card into the slot before loading the disc to access online extras. We found that the BD-Live streaming video content crashed until we swapped our SD card for a faster-performing one.

The SDXC slot can also be used to read photos and videos, which is perfect for use with a digital camera's SD card. It only plays videos that are in AVCHD format, though. Format support wasn't much better over USB or DLNA – it played a 720p DivX MKV file but all nine of our other test files were rejected.

Selecting VieraCast brings up a pertinent message that services can change without notice. It currently includes access to Picasa and six video streaming services, although YouTube and Dailymotion are the only ones that are primarily in English. They're presented over a series of customisable HomeScreens; thankfully, there's an option to turn off the incessant ping sounds that accompany each push of the remote control.

YouTube support was comprehensive, with the ability to log in and access Favourites, Subscriptions, Playlists and your own videos. It was even possible to rate videos or flag them as inappropriate. Text searches worked well, with reasonably quick input and results appearing as we typed. Frustratingly, though, the transport controls on the remote didn't work. Navigating the on-screen transport controls using the five-way pad wasn't as friendly, particularly as there's no way to rewind or fast-forward videos. Some were stretched to the wrong aspect ratio and lip sync was occasionally out.

Picasa support was much better. After logging in, our own photo collections were easily accessible and slideshows appeared with a simple dissolve transition between each photo and no irritating loading icons. Slideshows were accompanied by some twee music but turning the volume right down put a stop to it. We couldn't find a way to subscribe to friends' photos, though. As with the Picasa website, text searches are based on the names and tags of photos, not users. An Activity section included friends' photos we'd viewed recently on a PC, but while it was possible to add albums to a Favourites folder, we were unable to add the person to see any new albums they upload.

Accessing media files on the home network via DLNA was straightforward enough, but trawling through large music libraries was a slow process. Slideshows weren't as elegant here as in the Picasa viewer, with a large Loading message appearing each time a new photo is requested. A PAL MPEG-2 file was the only video that would play, with our DivX, WMV and AVC files all appearing greyed out.