Loewe is a company with which we tend to have fleeting relationships.
Premium products at premium prices, and a concerted effort on Loewe’s part to sell complete systems – speakers, stands, the lot – makes it hard to look at individual products without feeling we’re taking them out of context.
Still, if you’re going to buy in to the Loewe brand and start filling your house with this German company’s technology, then you need a hook.
Perhaps this clever Connect TV will do the trick? The Connect 40 (that’s the screen size) LED 200 DR+ is not just a pretty face, it has a serious specification sheet and genuine invention as part of its arsenal, too.
So let’s start with that invention. The clue’s in the name here: the DR+ refers to the fact this set has a built-in 250GB hard disk for digital recording, giving you the functionality of a PVR inside your television.
Furthemore – and Loewe tentatively claims a world-first here – if you add another set from the Connect range to your home, then you can wirelessly stream any recorded content from the hard disk on the DR+ to your second TV.
There are two tuners each for both Freesat and Freeview HD, three HDMI inputs, two USB inputs and a digital audio output that’s surround-sound compatible.
Connect via wi-fi or ethernet and you’ll also get access to Loewe’s MediaNet internet portal.
There’s no sign of BBC iPlayer (yet) with the highlights from a European-flavour line-up being TuneIn radio, eBay, Picasa, Cinetrailer, a web browser and access to 8000 radio stations from around the world. There’s no 3D support either.
It’s competent, just not outstanding
Getting to grips with the interface takes a little time and we’re left unconvinced by the decision to tuck the menus down at the bottom of the screen.
Still, it’s a sharp, clear and clean picture, with decent attention to detail. Colours are vibrant and black levels solid; but does it do enough? It’s not the best 40in screen we’ve seen, or even one of the best.
It lacks a little depth and overall insight compared with others, while motion isn’t entirely comfortable no matter how diligently you tweak the processing.
The tuners are similarly competent, without knocking us for six. It’s great to have the functionality of twin tuners, necessary for the PVR functionality, and the quality of HD broadcasts from Freesat and Freeview is high, but the standard definition tuner could be a little crisper.
Again, we don’t believe this set justifies the extra outlay, even if sonically it’s impressive, with Linn’s streaming internet radio showing the speakers capable of decent body and dynamics.
We understand Loewe’s position as a premium brand trying to offer stylish, well-specified products to form part of a system solution. But the products in their own right must excel to justify the outlay.
With no 3D, good but not great picture performance and a USP – in the Connect functionality – that requires a further hefty outlay on a second TV, the Connect 40 LED 200+ doesn’t do that.