Loewe Art SL 42 television

If you’re hunting for a TV, you’re probably confused about choosing between several gloss black sets that have confusing model numbers - and appear to be almost the same. Step forward Loewe, a German luxury brand that eschews the mass market to offer something a little different with its new “Art” screen.

Ah, at last a TV with a proper name - but is that a proper price? This 42-inch LCD TV costs £2345, around double that of the mass-market electronics brands. It might be hard to believe, but the Art is actually an entry-level set by Loewe’s standards.

As such it uses a LCD screen instead of an LED screen, which is increasingly appearing on high-end screens - and that’s certainly what the Art 42 aspires to be. A 42-inch LCD TV with Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, the Art 42 goes one better than most TVs by integrating a digital recorder called DR+. Its inclusion ups the price of the Art 42 to £2685, while the attractive pedestal stand our review sample appeared with brings the grand total to over £3000.

That may seem outrageous, but it’s all part of a drive by this small German brand to present well-made TVs and sound systems that are endlessly customisable. To put it simply, if you think the price tag is too high, Loewe thinks you’re too poor.

So will the elite like the Art? Oh yes, even the stupid ones. Though it’s packed with top tech, so logically thought out is the Art’s stunningly simply Assist+ user interface that anyone struggling to use it properly ought to be ashamed.

At a shade under 90mm in depth, it’s not the slimmest TV on the market. It is, however, one of the cleverest. The Art 42 can be fitted with two TV tuners, either digital or analogue, to receive free-to-air channels. It’s not compatible with the Freesat service, but in can receive most of the same channels. One-touch recordings and even series links are possible on the 250GB hard disk, while three HDMI inputs allow plenty of high-def kit to be attached.

Although pictures from standard-def sources are solid, it’s only if you hook-up and activate a Blu-ray player that the Art 42 reaches its full potential. Richly coloured and with exceptional clarity, it displays high-def with alluring realism. That’s largely down to the 100Hz feature, which intersperses extra frames into the on-screen action to reduce motion blur to an absolute minimum. Done in conjunction with the set’s DMM Film Quality Improvement, a smooth and fluid image is created that’s almost dizzying.

It shows just what we’ve been missing out on LCD screens in the past 5 or so years, although the incredible depth and cinematic feel is interrupted somewhat by the appearance of rogue video nasties around some moving objects/actors.

Add two meaty 40W speakers, which deliver a rounded stereo performance or a spatial “Panorama” mode, and the Art 42 seems an all-in-one solution that could even force your home cinema into the loft.

Verdict

Our main concern is that black can look a lot deeper and subtler on a LED screen, something that should really be at the heart of a £2345 TV. Without any networking options, it’s a shame that its USB input can accept only digital photos and not MP3 or DivX video files. But that’s small fry on what is an awesome-sounding and well-made set that comes loaded with easy-to-use features.