Loewe Modus L 42 £2145

1st Dec 2006 | 00:00

Loewe Modus L 42

Loewe comes back for more in the plasma market

TechRadar rating:

3.5 stars

Definitely not a successful attempt by Lowe to enter the mainstream

Like:

<p>Sound</p><p>Price</p>

Dislike:

<p>Ease of use</p><p>Picture</p>

I could have sworn Loewe said it wasn't going to sell any more plasma TVs... Oh well, I guess I must have dreamt it. Clearly the brand can see a demand for this type of glass. Although perhaps not quite as dramatically well-built and stylishly chic as some TVs in Loewe's sumptuously-designed collection, the L 42 is still much prettier than many of its rivals.

It's a pity, though, that the set sports just one HDMI jack, when most consumers are beginning to demand two. There are only two Scart sockets as well, leaving it up to a VGA input, and a CI slot for adding subscription services to the built-in digital tuner, to try and improve the specification.

The Freeview tuner is backed up by full 7-day EPG support - a relief, given problems encountered in this department on some Loewe TVs earlier this year. HD Ready status comes courtesy of a 1,024 x 1,024 native resolution, which confirms that the screen uses a Hitachi Alternate Lighting of Surfaces (ALiS) panel.

ALiS panels double the number of 'physical' horizontal lines of pixels by sharing electrodes between two pixel lines rather than using a separate electrode for each line, then expanding the screen's phosphor areas to cover the 'between pixel' areas. The image is interlaced, rather than progressive.

Other attractions include a solid claimed contrast ratio of 3000:1, screenburn countermeasures, and AV input picture-in-picture functionality. Finally, there's Loewe's Image processing engine, which offers a suite of improvements targeted at boosting contrast, colours (both richness and tone), and picture sharpness.

Performance

As is the case with a number of TVs using ALiS technology, the Modus L 42 is a mixed performer. Heading up the plus column is an impressive black level that delivers the sort of deep, cinematic darkness that eludes most, if not all, LCD sets. Colours are pleasing, enjoying broadly natural tones with bright and dark scenes alike, while also reaching excellent intensity during bright, colour-rich scenes.

It also offers plenty of fine detail with HD sources. However, this HD sharpness stands in stark contrast to the rather soft look imparted to standard-definition pictures - and the picture suffers quite badly with dot crawl noise, especially with standard-definition sources, and shows evidence of colour banding and motion fizzing.

What's more, while the black level goes deep, the resulting dark areas can look slightly hollow due to a limitation of greyscale. Sonically, the Modus L 42 is outstanding for a flatpanel. The soundstage is pushed seemingly effortlessly to all four corners of your room thanks to ribald dynamics and midrange clarity.

Though designed well and boasting excellent audio, ultimately there's not enough in the picture department to persuade me that the Modus L 42 has an edge over its rivals.

LoeweHDTVTVHigh definitionDigital homeHome cinema
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