OLED screens are very much no longer just something LG does. In 2017 we've already seen LG's range joined by new OLED models from Sony, Panasonic, Philips - and now there's another OLED debutante to add from Loewe.
Loewe Bild 7.65 review: Design
- 4x HDMI in (only one is full bandwidth for full HDR/4K support)
- 3x USB multimedia port
- LAN and Wi-Fi
- Optical digital audio output
German brand Loewe's 'thing' is to offer premium products that seek to justify their higher price points by delivering extra design, features and - supposedly - performance prowess.
So it's no surprise to find the brand's Bild 7.65 OLED model looking drop-dead gorgeous. And drop-dead expensive, at almost £6,500.
For starters, build quality looks and feels stunning thanks to the extensive use of different - but always harmonious - metallic finishes for the various parts of its design.
The distinctive Loewe infrared receiver 'eye' looks as good on the Bild 7.65 as it ever has, too, and somehow Loewe has managed to stamp its customary style and build quality authority on a screen that beautifully emphasises OLED's ability to deliver huge pictures from a bare minimum of surrounding bodywork.
Moreover, you can customise the way your particular Bild 7.65 looks. Options range from a black, cross-shaped desktop stand to a pair of floorstanding options, and a wall-mount option featuring a jointed arm to support multiple angles.
Maybe the single coolest thing about the Bild 7.65's design, though, is its motorisation. Some of the mounting options let you control the swivel of the TV around by using the remote control, for instance. Even better, switching the TV on causes the whole screen to levitate smoothly upwards to reveal the set's substantial-looking speakers sliding out from the bottom edge.
Miserable people could argue that this is really just a gimmick that adds nothing to the TV's performance capabilities. However, it's the sort of thing the high-end lifestyle TV market has increasingly come to expect and, shallow or not, it's an undeniably lovely thing to witness.
Loewe Bild 7.65 Review: Picture features
- HDR Support: HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision
- Processing engine: Loewe's proprietary Image+ system
- Motion processing: Film Quality Improvement system
The 65-inch Bild 7.65 features a native 4K resolution, and support for no less than three flavours of high dynamic range (HDR). The inclusion of Dolby Vision HDR, with its extra layer of dynamic metadata to help TVs optimise their HDR playback, is particularly welcome.
The Bild's OLED technology will be a significant draw for many home cinema fans, too. After all, unlike LCD TVs, which have to use external backlighting to illuminate whole groups of pixels at once, each pixel in an OLED TV can produce its own light - an ability which has a transformative effect on contrast and black level performance.
The panel inside the Bild 7.65 is taken from LG Display's 2017 OLED production lines, meaning it's bright enough to deliver around 760 nits of measured light output from a 10 per cent white HDR window, while colour range is close to 100 per cent of the digital cinema world's DCI-P3 expanded colour system. These are very promising numbers.
LCD TVs can hit more than double the Bild 7.65's brightness, it should be said. But they can only do so at the expense of either general black level response or backlight haloing and banding.
Image processing comes courtesy of Loewe's in-house Image+ engine. This has performed well in previous incarnations, and is supposedly improved for Loewe's first OLED TVs.
The Bild 7.65 is extremely rare for today's TV world in that it offers 3D support. Or at least it did when the TV first launched. Unfortunately the 3D support apparently only applies to an unspecified number of early Bild 7.65 samples due to changes in Loewe's OLED supply chain. So if 3D is a big issue for you, you'll need to check with your local Loewe dealer if their current stock still includes 3D support.
Loewe Bild 7.65 Review: Smart features
- Proprietary Loewe platform software
- Includes Amazon Video and BBC iPlayer
Loewe has developed its own in-house smart system, with mixed results.
On the upside, the way it treats apps, external devices and live broadcast channels equally in populating its home screen menu of icons is entirely appropriate for the way most people consume content on their TVs these days.
Also great is how easy it is to customise the running order of apps/channels/inputs that appear at the top of the home screen, enabling you to streamline access to your favourite stuff.
The downside is that you don't get anywhere near as many apps on Loewe's smart hub as you do with rival systems such as Android TV and LG's webOS platform. Particularly noticeable by their absence are the ITV Player, All4 and My5 catch-up TV apps.
However, Loewe reckons these apps will appear by the end of the year, and you can already get Netflix and Amazon Video - though, again, there's a limitation here in that oddly the Netflix app currently only supports HD with no HDR. That will surely be updated in the future.
The Bild 7.65 has one final smart TV trick up its sleeve: HD video recording from the set's Freeview HD tuner to a built-in 1TB hard disc drive. This is a great feature for anyone not using an external recording platform such as Sky or Virgin.
Loewe Bild 7.65 Review: Picture quality
The Bild 7.65's pictures provide yet more evidence of just how good OLED pictures have become in 2017.
Contrast is, as you'd expect, the star of the show. The Bild 7.65 delivers gorgeously deep, uniform, rich black tones right alongside crisp, pure whites and bright colours with no hint of light pollution between them, or clouding around them. This gives HDR scenes containing a mixture of dark and light content a pure, intense look that no LCD TV can match.
The Bild 7.65 doesn't get quite as intense with its brightest HDR peaks as LG's latest OLEDs - but there's hardly a huge difference, by our measurements. However, the Bild 7.65's images look pretty much as dynamic as those of Panasonic's 65EZ1002 flagship OLED TV, and punchier than those of Sony's A1E OLED models.
Also, while the Bild 7.65 might not quite look as dynamic with its HDR images as LG's OLED sets, it does manage to infuse the darkest parts of the picture with a bit more subtle shading and colour detail. This gives dark scenes a more natural and consistent sense of depth.
Loewe Bild 7.65 Review: Greyness versus detail
This push to retain shadow detail occasionally leads to sudden infusions of greyness in dark scenes that you don't get with the more consistently black LG OLEDs. But some AV fans, at least, will consider this a fair trade. Especially as the Bild 7.65 suffers with slightly less noise in backgrounds and areas of subtle color gradation than you get with LG's OLEDs when using those set's otherwise optimal Standard picture preset.
Colours are exceptionally well handled by Loewe's debut OLED. The wide colour gamuts you get from 4K Blu-rays appear with plenty of pop and vigour, yet without looking forced or cartoonish. There's usually plenty of subtlety in the colour presentation too - something which helps the Bild 7.65 outgun LG's OLEDs when it comes to reproducing skin tones during dark scenes.
The Bild 7.65's colour and contrast performance look particularly fantastic when powered by a Dolby Vision source, as the Dolby format's dynamic metadata helps the Loewe deliver more precision in its HDR images.
Loewe Bild 7.65 Review: Standard dynamic range performance
As usual with OLED TVs, the Bild 7.65 is an outstanding performer with standard dynamic range content of the sort most people still have to watch for the majority of the time. Colours look exquisitely natural and subtle, while black levels and contrast are pretty much perfect.
Loewe's processing engine does a good job of upscaling HD sources to its 4K pixel count too (though it's not quite up there with Samsung, Panasonic and, especially, Sony in this regard).
If you're lucky enough to track down a Bild 7.65 with 3D support, you'll be rewarded with a good 3D image that looks detailed and free of ghosting and flicker. There's slightly more motion judder than you got with LG's last OLED 3D efforts back in 2016 (LG no longer supports 3D on any of its TVs), but overall the Bild 7.65's 3D efforts are strong enough to make you wonder for the umpteenth time just how much better 3D may have fared if it had always looked this good on TVs.
Gamers looking to take their hobby high-end, meanwhile, will be ecstatically pleased to hear that the Bild 7.65 suffers with a low input lag figure of just under 40ms when using its Game picture preset.
Loewe Bild 7.65 Review: Minor niggles
While the Bild 7.65 is a brilliant picture performer overall, there are a couple of relatively small issues to mention (beyond the occasional black level reductions noted earlier).
First, its pictures aren't as pin sharp as those of some rival sets. This is partly because its motion processing causes a little softness when activated, while there's some distracting judder if you don't. Even static images, though, don't look quite as intensely textured as they do on the best rivals.
The other issue is that HDR colour blends sometimes show signs of noticeable striping/banding noise. Loewe is certainly not alone in having this problem - it's also been an issue for various other brands in recent times. Nor is the issue as common or as pronounced on the Bild 7.65 as it has been on a number of Samsung TVs, in particular. But it's an issue you don't get at all on Sony's latest TVs.
Loewe Bild 7.65 Review: Sound Quality
- 2x60W sound bar (120W total)
- Optional Loewe speakers for full 5.1 audio
Built-in soundbars on TVs are all the rage this year - but few if any sound as good as the one built into the Bild 7.65.
Its remarkable 120W of power combines with some remarkable build quality to serve up a phenomenally rich, dynamically detailed sound that spreads far beyond the boundaries of the TV's frame - without losing cohesion or ever sounding harsh.
The only issue to be aware of is that the Bild 7.65's speakers are built to be driven hard. At low volumes they sound rather flat and muffled; something to bear in mind, perhaps, if you have neighbours to think about. Unless you already hate them.
The Loewe Bild 7.65 continues OLED's 2017 winning streak with another stellar picture performance.
Its price will likely mean many AV fans are forced to turn to cheaper OLED options such as LG's E7 model instead. However, if you are able to lay your hands on the necessary cash, Loewe's OLED debutante does offer enough of a step-up in build quality, design and sound quality to impress.
Alternatives to consider
LG OLED E7
This 4K HDR LG TV also uses OLED technology in a stunning design featuring an OLED film applied directly to a sheet of glass. It’s got a powerful soundbar built in too, also supports Dolby Vision HDR, and delivers fantastic picture and sound quality. It lacks the motorisation features of the Loewe set, though, its picture presets are less well balanced out of the box for noise and brightness.
Read the full article: LG OLED E7 review
Sony A1 OLED
Sony's debut OLED TV boasts class-leading colour and motion processing, as well as delivering fully on OLED’s black level prowess. It also enjoys a remarkable ‘frame-free’ design thanks to a rear lean-on support leg and groundbreaking new audio technology that uses the screen itself to deliver a powerful stereo sound performance. It’s not as bright with HDR as the Bild 7.65, though, and features no motorisation in its design.
Read the full article: Sony A1 TV review