Loewe Connect 32 Media Full-HD+ DR+ review: Loewe Connect 32 Media Full-HD+ DR+

Typical Price: £2,295.00
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Design; HD picture; sound quality; remote; menu system; PVR integration; media streaming.

The Bad Price; Freeview picture could be better.

The Bottom Line This is one of the best 32-inch TVs we've ever used. If it wasn't for the enormous price tag, we would have no problem recommending it to everyone. The problem is, for most people the price is just far too high -- you could almost get a 50-inch Pioneer plasma for the sort of money Loewe is asking

8.3 Overall

Let's start by making one thing clear; if you are looking for a cheap or even moderately priced TV you'll be wanting to look elsewhere. The Loewe Connect 32 is not the sort of thing aimed at people on a budget.

It is, however, aimed at people who are looking for a TV that fits in with their lifestyle -- and a certain kind of lifestyle at that. So if you've got a penthouse in a city centre that had its interior designed by Linda Barker or one of her ilk, this could very well be the sort of product you're interested in, as long as you can afford to spend £2,295.

Design
As you would expect from the introduction we gave it, the Loewe is a good-looking TV. It's designed to be a part of your lounge, but to also have a unique style of its own. Surprisingly this isn't anywhere near the thinnest TV on the market, and as such, people who really want the sleekest equipment might look elsewhere.

On the front of the TV is a speaker grille and a single large circular button which has several features. The outer, sliver ring controls the channel, switching between TV and radio and entering the menu system. In the middle are some status lights, including the DR+ logo, which lights up red when the TV is recording a TV programme. If you press the central, black button the TV turns off, with a nice on-screen transition.

Around the back of the TV you'll find a pair of HDMI sockets, an aerial input as well as component, VGA and two Scart sockets. Interestingly, one of the Scart connections is component capable, which might be useful if you need more than one component input. There is also an Ethernet port to stream video and a USB socket for photos and music, but sadly not for video.

On the side behind a flap are s-video and composite video inputs, ideally located if you have a camcorder you want to hook up quickly.

Features
It goes without saying that with a premium price come quite a substantial amount of features. The TV we tested costs £2,295 but for that you get a 1080p TV with a twin tuner 160GB Freeview PVR, a network media streamer and a high-definition satellite tuner.

We should point out that if you go for the satellite option you will not be getting freesat. This TV can receive HD MPEG-4 signals however, so you can tune in BBC HD, but you will not get ITV HD -- an interactive service that this TV doesn't support -- nor will you be able to access the freesat EPG.

The Freeview PVR is especially well designed, so pressing record takes you to a menu that allows you to record the current programme, or if you'd rather, record for a set amount of time, from 30 minutes to several hours. Handy if there is a lot of stuff you want to record on one channel but can't be bothered to select them all one by one.

The media streaming feature works well too, although you will need a computer connected via Ethernet, and that machine will need to have an application capable of sharing media. Something like Windows Media Player will work. Of course, the TV can only stream quite specific kinds of video, and newer containers like MKV aren't supported. That said, DivX and XviD are, and it is those types that are most often used for online video.

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