Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- 1080i high definition display, wide range of features
- Poor interface, integration of features is disjointed
A frustratingly difficult interface detracts from what would otherwise be a standout product. Everything on the TU-HDT104A works, but for ease of use and intuitive functionality look for a different receiver.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic TU-HDT104A is capable of delivering razor-sharp high definition images, but is marred by a poorly designed interface.
The roots of this poor design can be found on the front panel of the box, which sports a pitiful three buttons: exit, up, and down. Enough to provide perhaps half the functions required for complete menu navigation. This places a huge emphasis on the remote control, which, unfortunately, fails to deliver. Buttons on the remote are just as sparse as on the front panel, with several key functions missing. Those buttons that are on the remote are often too small or cramped.
The on-screen interface is marginally better, in that it manages to pack a full set of functions. Its blocky, sickly green design is rather unappealing, however, and the organisation of submenus is irritatingly obfuscating. Many of the features that are missing from the remote are found in the menu system; for instance, channel scan, favourites menu, channel editing.
The TU-HDT104 does feature enough settings and options to make it a decent set top box, in spite of the poorly implemented interface. TV and radio channels are separated in the channel list, which greatly improves channel surfing. Channel scanning and editing are both well implemented and easy to use, and the display provides ample information for navigating the various functions. It lacks is a favourites system.
On a more positive note, the Panasonic delivers full high-resolution 1080i HDTV, and packs a full range of connection options, including component (YPbPr) and RGB for high definition sets. It also has composite ports, an RF loop-through and S-Video for lower-resolution systems (and can downmix HD signals for output to a VHS recorder), and optical and coaxial digital audio output.
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