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Panasonic's 2011 home theater system line: Wi-Fi for all

Panasonic announced the full details on its 2011 home theater system line, with all of the models getting built-in Wi-Fi and 3D Blu-ray playback.

Along with HDTVs and Blu-ray players, Panasonic also showed off the full details of its 2011 home theater system line earlier this week. The big upgrades over last year's models include 3D Blu-ray playback and built-in Wi-Fi in all the models. We've broken down the key features and step-ups for all three of the new models.

Panasonic SC-BTT270

Panasonic SC-BTT270
Panasonic SC-BTT270 Sarah Tew/CNET

Key features of the Panasonic SC-BTT270:

  • 5.1 home theater system
  • Integrated 3D Blu-ray player
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • VieraCast suite of streaming-media features, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Streaming, Vudu, CinemaNow, Pandora, Skype, and YouTube
  • Built-in iPod/iPhone dock
  • Optical audio input
  • Audio return channel (ARC) support
  • $400 list price; available in April

Panasonic SC-BTT370

Panasonic SC-BTT370
Panasonic SC-BTT370 Sarah Tew/CNET

Key step-up features of the Panasonic SC-BTT370:

  • Larger front speakers
  • Two HDMI inputs
  • HDMI standby pass-through
  • "Wireless ready" rear speakers (requires $130 SH-FX71 wireless kit)
  • $500 list price; available in April

Panasonic SC-BTT770

Panasonic SC-BTT770
Panasonic SC-BTT770 Sarah Tew/CNET

Key step-up features of the Panasonic SC-BTT770:

  • Tallboy front speakers
  • Wireless rear speakers
  • $600 list price; available in April

At first glance, there's a lot to like about Panasonic's home theater lineup. Built-in Wi-Fi on even the SC-BT220 makes the entry-level system much more attractive and we're happy to see that the more expensive models include HDMI inputs, which were missing from Panasonic's systems last year. Standby pass-through is a nice unexpected bonus feature and especially useful for late-night listening sessions when you don't want to fire up your full home theater system.

As we mentioned in our analysis of Panasonic's Blu-ray player line, all of these systems feature VieraCast, rather than the app-based Viera Connect service offered on Panasonic HDTV's this year. That means these home theater systems may miss out on many services available on Viera Connect. As of now, Hulu Plus and live out-of-market sports (MLB, NHL, MLS) are all offered on Viera Connect and not VieraCast. (It's possible they could be added later, but nothing has been announced.)