Loewe Individual Compose 40 £3000
4th Oct 2007 | 23:00
Reassuringly expensive or just plain overpriced?
A picture paints a thousand words, they say. So if you don't mind, by way of opening this review we'll simply direct your attention to the pictures of the Loewe Individual Compose 40 and save ourselves having to write at least 800 words or so. Rather pretty isn't it? And we can assure you that a mere photo doesn't do the glinting, ultra-slim reality justice.
The design isn't just extravagant and opulent, either. It's also uniquely flexible. For starters, this screen, with the TV mounted on a square silver post (which contains a centre speaker) can be partnered with huge floorstanding left and right speakers (£250) and a subwoofer (£500), is just one of many presentation options.
Other possibilities include speakers that fasten to the TV's sides instead, 'compact' satellite units, and a speaker bar that can be placed under the screen.
The TV and speakers come in two colour variants too: Aluminium Silver (shown) and Aluminium Black. As for stands, you can get a rotating table-top stand, a floor-standing 'pole' stand, and even a 'screen lift' mount where the TV is vertically mounted on a pole .
Finally, you can completely alter the look and feel of your Individual Compose 40 by adding different inset panels along the TV's sides. The large range of colour options available include: Ebony, Rosewood, Light Oak, High Gloss Black, Metallised Chrome, Aluminium Silver and Ruby.
As you'd hope for a TV as luxuriously expensive as this one, its feature appeal isn't restricted to its design flexibility. In fact, it's got another truly unusual trick up its sleeve: a built-in 160GB hard-disk drive recorder able to record Freeview channels (two digital tuners are provided) or stuff received via Scarts provided it's not piracy-protected.
Other eye-catching tricks include the TV's Full HD screen resolution, Loewe's Image+ picture processing system, which boosts sharpness, noise reduction, colour and motion handling, plus a dynamic contrast system that delivers a 4500:1 claimed contrast ratio.
Finally, we ought to mention the set's connectivity, that features an adequate two HDMIs (when three might have been better on such a premium TV), a PC port, digital in/out and a USB input, besides all the more standard ports that you'd expect to find.
Loewe's swanky new remote control is a huge improvement over the frankly horrible previous effort, but the onscreen menus continue to be fiddly and unintuitive.
The switch from CRT to flat TVs hasn't been a smooth one for Loewe, but thankfully, the Compose 40's pictures are easily the best we've ever seen from an LCD TV from the German company's stable.
Particularly striking is how sharp images look. The fine detail levels in HD footage are terrific, as the screen's full HD resolution helps reproduce every little texture and subtle colour blend that good quality HD sources have to offer.
What's more, motion is handled with considerably less smearing than we normally see with most LCD TVs, and there's practically no sign of dot crawl or edge noise, thanks to the match between full HD sources and the screen's pixel count (provided you use the unhelpfully named PC 16:9 aspect ratio setting, which removes all overscanning from the picture).
We're pleased to say that the Compose 40 also makes standard definition look pretty sharp by full HD TV standards, and produces a vivid and satisfying colour palette.
Perhaps the single greatest area of improvement for Loewe, though, is the set's black levels, which finally achieve a depth that's as satisfying as real cinema.
That said, there are rivals out there delivering better black levels still. And while colours are generally very likeable, just occasionally skin tones during dark scenes can look slightly unnatural.
And finally some images, even HD ones, can look just a touch too gritty. But pictures are still very, very likeable overall.
The recordings made by the TV's built-in HDD are also very good. There's a touch more softness around, especially where skin tones are concerned, but otherwise the lack of noise is commendable.
The huge external speakers tested produce levels of clarity, amounts of power and enough sheer dynamic range to comfortably outclass many a mid-range home cinema separates system. So the speaker's asking price suddenly doesn't look quite so steep.
While on the one hand this set might seem expensive for an LCD TV with a merely good, rather than inspirational, picture performance, on the other hand the TV's extraordinary design and build quality will make it irresistible at any price to its well-heeled and style-conscious target market.