Loewe is back in the top end TV business after an injection of capital with several specialist dealers now ranging the all new Loewe Connect55 high-end 4K display model in Australia.
The German brand is now distributed by Melbourne based Qualifi with several new models tipped for 2015.
Last year Loewe TV’s became insolvent and the Company was bought by an investment group five months ago.
The new management team immediately binned plans to shift production abroad and decided to continue making most of its models in Germany.
“For our main production lines we are sticking with ‘Made in Germany’,” part-owner and co-Chief Executive Mark Huesges told Reuters in an interview at Loewe’s headquarters in the Bavarian town of Kronach.
Loewe, started by brothers Siegmund and David Ludwig Loewe in 1923, sought protection from creditors in July 2013 and filed for insolvency in October after a strategy to combat the economic downturn by focusing on premium customers backfired.
Now specialist retailers have started selling the new Loewe Connect 55 in Australia at a recommended retail price of $6,990 which is significantly cheaper that a Bang and Olufsen TV but on par with a TV from Samsung or LG, what is missing for the money is local apps.
The mid-range, 55-inch Connect 55 is the company’s first 4K UHD model, and one which still seems to epitomise Loewe’s unique way of doing things while simultaneously showing signs of a leaner, more commercially aware brand.
The new TV has a lot going for it if all you want is a great TV and minimum apps.
Most current TV broadcast signals do not currently meet the new Ultra HD standard, so an up-scaling process is needed to enjoy the benefits of Ultra HD. Loewe’s proprietary Ultra HD scaling algorithm delivers up-scaled Full HD content from 1,920 x 1,080 pixels to 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, for visibly enhanced details and clarity.
Despite the fact that it’s the product of a new regime, the latest Connect 55 – Loewe has kept more or less the same product range names and features as they have done for several decades.
For starters there’s the trademark large, metal-framed circular remote control receiver and LED display protruding strikingly from the TV’s bottom edge.
The way the screen carries an integrated speaker bar along its bottom edge is also reminiscent of Loewe TVs of the past, as is the cute addition of a little “Connect” tag on the TV’s upper right edge.
We saw the new Loew Connect 55 on sale at Klapp Audio Visual in Melbourne and at Carlton Audio where the new model stood out from the normal TV model crowd because of its stunning looks.
You only have to try lifting the Connect 55 out of its box to realise how spectacularly well-built.
The Connect 55 has an on-board 5.1 audio decoder, so that it can easily be partnered with external speaker systems.
You’re not restricted to Loewe gear however Loewe does recommend two of their own subwoofer options – the Sub 200 and Sub 525 – as well as its Stand or Satellite speakers as ideal accompaniments for its new TVs.
The Connect 55’s connections are housed under two detachable flaps on the TV’s rear side, and are decently numerous. Highlights include four HDMIs (with support for the 4K at 60Hz-friendly 2.0 specification),
USBs able to play video, photo or music multimedia from USB storage devices, and the now inevitable LAN and integrated Wi-Fi options.
The network options let you stream media from DLNA-enabled devices in your household, or connect the TV to the web.
Missing are decent apps relating to Australia such as Netflix, Presto, SBS or iView.
These are serious omissions from any TV in 2015, especially when there remains precious little native 4K UHD content around outside of Amazon and Netflix with which would fully unlock the Connect 55’s 3840×2160 resolution.
To be fair, it’s clearly difficult for a relatively niche brand like Loewe to compete with the big boys in terms of negotiating, paying for and verifying app, but then again they are asking a premium price for this TV.
One of the most attractive features of the Connect 55 is its built-in DR digital video recorder. This records direct from the HD tuner, so the recording quality is essentially perfect and since the built-in HDD weighs in at 1TB you can store tons of recordings.
Loewe’s Smart Assist app means you can set DR recordings remotely from your smartphone too, and you can stream content from the hard drive on one Loewe TV to the screen of another Loewe TV if you’re lucky enough to be in a position to install a multi-room Loewe system. There’s even support for archiving recordings to USB, where copyright permits it.
Later this year Qualifi will launch the new top end German made Reference model that comes with a motorised stand and will be available in Aluminium Black, Aluminium Silver and High-Gloss White.
The Reference uses an anti-reflective, high-contrast glass filter panel and is active-shutter 3D compatible. Inputs are HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2, with HEVC decoder. Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is bolstered by DLNA content streaming.
The flagship set’s on-board sound system boasts 120w of amplification, with multiple forward-firing speakers, so no additional soundbar should be required. The TV audio system can also function as a centre speaker in a 5.1 surround system.
The screen also has an integrated 1TB hard drive for time shifting. Recorded programmes can be recorded directly into a customisable folder system, making things easier to find. Recordings can also be exported to an external USB drive for archive purposes. In addition to the built-in PVR, viewers can also pause a programme and pick up where they left off on another DR+-equipped Loewe TV in a different room.
A triple-tuner configuration means viewers can watch one channel while following a second in picture-in-picture mode and recording a third on the hard drive. Loewe’s DR+ hard drive acts as a video server that can be accessed by other Loewe sets in your home network.
Pricing for the Reference has not been announced.