So-called 'lifestyle' products tend to offer eye-catching design at the expense of overall performance. But, like Sony's PSP or Apple's iPod, there are exceptions to the unwritten rule. And Loewe's latest Concept 32 LCD is a similar anomaly -- a seriously stylish product that's capable of class-leading performance.
German manufacturer Loewe has a history of enhancing screen design and the Concept L32's undeniable aesthetics ensure that tradition is continued. The future-proof specification has all the requisites for receiving high-definition television and video signals, as well as including an integrated Freeview digital tuner.
Loewe's attractive designs are usually accompanied by inflated price tags. But the Concept L32's cost (around £1600 online) is surprisingly competitive, since the price has been reduced by £300 and can be considered as top of the entry-level class.
Loewe has a penchant for strikingly simple designs that stand out in the company of typically unimaginative alternatives -- even its oversized CRTs deserve a double take. And the Concept L32 is etched with familiar hallmarks that are guaranteed to catch envious glances from your guests.
The broad 'platinum' screen surround contrasts with a pair of matte-black CRX speakers mounted at either side, which add to the illusion of extra width. Build quality is exceptional, with flawless finishing and a four-legged true metal stand that stares at you through Loewe's trademark 'infrared eye'.
After some searching you'll find the front panel of the stand flips down to reveal the power switch, limited primary controls, a headphone jack and basic set of AV connections that allow easy access for a games console or camcorder.
A more comprehensive set of connections is awkwardly arranged on the underside of the rear panel. There's complete connectivity for a full range of AV equipment that includes a pair of Scart terminals, although only the AV2 terminal is RGB-enabled, meaning you'll have to cope with lesser quality pictures from one of your Scart-connected components. Elsewhere, there are progressive-scan supporting component inputs and an all-important HDMI digital video input that's used to receive high-definition broadcasts, such as Sky's upcoming HD service, or signals from a compatible DVD player.
There are several standard analogue stereo connections including a supplementary set at the front. Both a coaxial digital input and output are included, which can be connected to a home-cinema receiver to augment the already impressive audio performance. PC users can employ the screen as a monitor via a standard VGA/XGA input, but sadly there's no PC audio input.
Finally, for such a fashion-conscious screen, it's no surprise that the complementary remote is suitably stylish. The tall, tapered design is reassuringly weighty, with comfortable controls featuring a chrome-effect central cursor within easy thumb's reach.