Digital Christmas: Review – Panasonic Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre SC-BTT775

23 Nov 2011

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The Panasonic Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre SC-BTT775

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The Panasonic Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre SC-BTT775 is a 5.1 surround-sound system with a 3D Blu-ray player that doubles as a 21st-century home entertainment hub with internet access. It will transform your perception of home entertainment.

When I have in the past looked at the subject of home cinemas or home theatres, if you will, I’ve often asked why people really need them. I reckon I got my answer.

The Panasonic Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre SC-BTT775 came in a big box and I thought to myself: it’s only a bunch of speakers and a Blu-ray player, how hard can that be?

Quite onerous in terms of set-up, actually. Setting up the speakers and connecting everything up and ensuring that the living room resembled life before the home theatre arrived was quite a strenuous task, but it eventually made sense. It was an assembly job that required correct positioning of the right speakers in the right place and of course wiring it all up. Thankfully, I had a younger brother around to help.

The Panasonic system promises full cinematic sound from every corner of the room and it pretty much delivered, in unexpected ways. It was quite comical watching our cat’s head move in each direction while the TV went through a diagnostic test of each speaker and his eyes widen as the subwoofer sent the sensation of earthquake tremors throughout the room.

The effect of the subwoofer and the other speakers (there are sound towers measuring 102cm, as well as a centre speaker and a subwoofer) is amazing in terms of the effect on your physical senses. You really do think the ground is shaking and that sound waves are coming from behind or beside you.

Cinematic effect

The first Blu-ray video I tried with the full cinematic set up was Spiderman: The Movie and a movie that previously just entertained mesmerised and you really got to appreciate the sound effects through the eerie cackling from William Dafoe’s alter-ego the Green Goblin. My little niece was glued to the spot by the experience.

I tried the same with the most recent Terminator movie Blu-ray disc and once again the speakers, which I had placed in a square pattern around the room, really transformed the experience.

The Panasonic Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre SC-BTT775 as an entertainment hub introduced me to the DNLA capability of most new TVs on the market today. I could cycle through DVDs but also connect to the internet to sign in to Facebook, Skype, YouTube and potentially rent out movies online via AceTrax.

It’s amazing how well YouTube film trailers translate into 1080p, for example. However, my only quibble with the set-up was the fact that the remote control, which does an able job in letting you manage everything, is just that, a remote control. A wireless keyboard of some description is needed for successfully navigating the web via your TV. Either that or some voice-system like Apple’s Siri (hint-hint).

When I was integrating the system with my house Wi-Fi it required a firmware update that took a while but once it was back up and running didn’t affect my original TV and sound settings. I have to say the intelligence in the theatre system, which has full 5.1 surround sound, is very impressive.

Another handy bonus is integration with iOS devices, like iPods and iPhones. To the right-hand side of the device there’s a handy iPod dock that allows you to play all your music and videos on the screen of your TV using the surround sound for full effect! I actually tried this with some U2 and R.E.M. concert videos and while nothing beats the real thing of being there, the sound effect is truly immersive.

As well as a slot for iOS devices there’s the usual SD card and USB slots for other media. It even boasts an FM radio, so it really is a full entertainment system.

I said early on how I wondered before why people really needed surround sound home cinema systems. I wonder now how folks can live without them!

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com