German manufacturer Loewe believes that, like the hi-fi and car markets, the TV market shouldn't be all about price. There should be room for premium brands that can charge more for their products and offer high levels of performance, features and especially design in return.
But does Loewe's £1,700 37-inch Modus L 37 LCD TV actually deliver on this intriguing high-end proposition?
The Modus L 37 certainly a cut above the mainstream norm in design terms, as the subtle combination of cool, minimal lines and svelte profile creates a genuine, if gentle, feel of refined chic.
There are also things to like about the Modus L 37's pictures. Thanks to Loewe's Image+ picture-processing engine, for instance, images in both high and standard definition look exceptionally crisp and detailed. So you can make out the weave in Clark Kent's suit in the HD DVD of Superman Returns, while standard-definition material received via the set's digital tuner looks notably less soft and fuzzy than on many rival LCD sets.
Colours are laudable, too, for their richness and brightness and the Modus L 37 also handles motion well, portraying the spaceships shooting across the screen at the start of Star Wars: Episode III with impressively little blurring.
One final positive about the Modus L 37 is its clever on-screen instruction manual which, at the press of a button, can explain for you any feature you're currently looking at in the on-screen menus.
Although the Modus L 37's design is certainly swish, the quality of its finish is much more plastic-looking than we've come to expect from Loewe. We guess the Modus is actually one of the 'cheapest' sets in the Loewe range, but the plastic feel still disappoints on a TV which costs, after all, not far off twice as much as many rival 37-inch TVs.
Even more disappointing for a premium TV is how few cutting-edge features it has. Really, Image+ is the only trick of note. And the provision of just a single HDMI input, when we'd expect even the most budget flat TV nowadays to carry two, is unforgivable.
The good picture points we described earlier, meanwhile, are nibbled away at by a trio of flaws. Black levels, for starters, are found to be quite seriously wanting by dark scenes such as the sword fight between Captains Jack and Barbossa in the treasure cave during the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie on Blu-ray. The supposedly black, deep backdrop to this scene instead looks grey, flat and unrealistic.
The second flaw concerns the Loewe's colours, which tend to look strange in tone during dark scenes, especially where skin is concerned. And finally on the picture quality front, it's worrying how much contrast and colour images lose if viewed from much of an angle.
Add to all this an aggravatingly ponderous on-screen menu system and you've ultimately got a set that has way more things in the negative column than such an expensive TV really should.
We honestly don't have a problem with brands charging high prices for TVs. All we ask is that these expensive sets have some compelling excuse for their cost. A pretty straightforward requirement you'd think -- but one which Loewe's Modus L 37, at £1,700, appears to have largely forgotten.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire