Panasonic's Blu-ray blitz has hit Australia, with the company's first full-HD disc player being released along with a bevy of complementary home theatre components. One of the items joining the DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player is the SA-XR700 receiver, which connects via HDMI to deliver 7.1-channel digital audio with plenty of grunt.
The best thing about the SA-XR700 is its degradation-free amplification of digital signals, including 7.1-channel audio. Processing of signal input is fully digital, and the receiver supports video sources of up to 1080p resolution, meaning Blu-ray video is displayed in its original high-quality form. This is excellent news for those planning to drop around $18,000 on the plasma screen Panasonic recommends as the "optimum partner" for its Blu-ray player.
The SA-XR700 also uses a multiple amp system to automatically adjust for 2-, 5.1- or 7.1-channel audio without the need to re-connect speaker cables. Even 2-channel audio sounds beefed up and bold, due to three amps driving the two front speakers.
An automatic set-up function allows for fast configuration of speakers, with a Test button on the remote control detecting the number of connected speakers, polarities, distances and sizes.
As with the rest of the Blu-ray line-up, the main downer is the lack of content. Commercial Blu-ray titles are not yet available in Australia, and although Twentieth Century Fox has announced it will be releasing a handful of movies in November, the titles are a mixed bag. Unless you are a huge fan of Ice Age 2, Kingdom of Heaven, or box office poison The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you will probably be underwhelmed by what's available over the next few months.
While the SA-XR700 is optimised for Blu-ray action, it's certainly not overkill for those who aren't so enthusiastic about adopting the next generation disc format. With its dual HDMI inputs, 1080p compatibility and lossless output, the receiver would make a solid future-proof base for those building a home cinema.