Our Verdict

The new Connect 55 is a welcome return to the UK TV scene by Loewe, showing off a new, more forward thinking and price-sensitive approach by the German brand while still delivering plenty of the beloved old Loewe DNA.

For

  • Outstanding build quality
  • Customisable design options
  • Excellent video processing
  • Good sound quality

Against

  • Minimal video streaming support
  • Reflective screen
  • Expensive versus most rivals
  • Some backlight clouding

It's been a long time since we last found a new Loewe TV on our test benches. The German brand - pronounced "Lerver" - has, like so many other TV brands recently, had to undergo a major restructuring operation that's taken rather longer to complete than its new owners had hoped.

It has, though, finally emerged from its enforced hibernation. And with the Connect 55 it's come out fighting.

The headline news is the fact that every model in Loewe's four-series strong new range of TVs sports a native 4K UHD resolution. This is a startlingly forward-thinking policy for a relatively small brand like Loewe to adopt - though it's probably also a necessary one.

It's pretty clear that HD TVs have already essentially become budget TVs in the eyes of most manufacturers, so it could have been awkward to say the least if we'd found Loewe trying to sell an HD TV at a premium price.

For yes, Loewe is a brand known for selling its kit at a premium price.

Its luxurious and often customisable designs together with its focus on creating AV ecosystems of interconnected, aesthetically complimentary products are not compatible with the ultra-aggressive price wars ravaging the shelves of the big electrical retailers for the past few years.

But there's no harm in that so far as I'm concerned; it would be a dull old world out there if there weren't brands like Loewe out there injecting a little variety into the TV industry's fringes.

Loewe Connect colour range

A question of price

Having said all that, with a starting price of £2,800 the Connect 55 (as is Loewe's custom, it carries the same name as Loewe's previous TV mid-range) is actually not as expensive as previous Loewe experience would have led me to expect.

Sure, you can get 55-inch UHD TVs for less than half that much these days, but the Connect 55 isn't just another 55-inch UHD TV.

As ever it boasts a seriously opulent design and some outstanding build quality that looks and feels far removed from the plasticky finish of the majority of today's TVs.

The Connect 55 separates itself out from the TV mainstream, too, by including what's effectively a built-in speaker bar along its bottom edge, and offering a fair degree of customisation in its design.

Customisable design

There are a series of stand options, for instance, including a cool-looking pole floor mount, an even more startling floor-to-ceiling pole mount, and even Loewe-designed furniture options. Plus there are a few colour options to play with.

The core TV chassis comes in three colour options: black frame with black frame detail and black speaker section; black frame with cappuccino frame detail and cappuccino speaker section; and black frame with silver frame detail and silver speaker section.

Probably my favourite option, though, is the optional colour kit that converts the speaker cover and frame details to a striking Petrol Blue colour.

As if this wasn't enough, you can also buy a colour kit that lets you switch between the various speaker cover and detail colours at will should you fancy changing your TV's look to suit the season or your mood.

Dragging our attention away from the Connect 55's glamorous and flexible exterior to check out what's going on inside reveals more mostly good news.

As discussed already, the 55-inch screen squeezes in a 3840x2160 '4K UHD' native resolution. It also uses an edge LED lighting system driven by local dimming to boost contrast, and pictures should benefit from the latest generation of Loewe's Image+ processing - a system that has impressed in previous incarnations.

The sound bar built into the TV - along with Loewe's strong heritage with TV audio - promises more potent sound than we customarily hear from TVs.

Impressively the TV also sports a built-in Dolby Digital 5.1 decoder so that you can easily add a set of external surround sound speakers.

Perhaps best of all the Connect 55 carries a built-in 1TB hard disk video recorder able to hold hundreds of hours of recordings from the built-in Freeview HD tuner. The recorder simply stores the incoming digital streams, too, so there's no loss of quality, and the interface for making and finding recordings is well-designed and friendly.

Loewe Connect 55 floor stand

Interface and smart features

Loewe has revamped its menu design for its new TVs, and for the most part it's a revamp for the better.

Menus are much easier to navigate than the crushed-up efforts of Loewe's previous generation, and there are some great signs of joined up thinking in the way some menus provide links to other related menus and content options.

You can even set up your own customised page of favourite TV channel icons - ideal, for instance, for bringing the Freeview HD channels up to the top of the list. It's handy, too, that there are reasonably useful onscreen explanations for all of the TV's features that pop up when you highlight a feature in the menus.

The full-screen menu design lacks the elegance of overlaid systems like LG's webOS and Samsung's Tizen, but it gets the job done.

There is a significant weakness with Loewe's Smart TV features though, namely that they're severely lacking in online content options. At the time of writing there are no apps for any of the main TV catch up services - including the BBC iPlayer - and there are similarly no apps for either Netflix or Amazon.

Loewe Connect 55

No 4K streaming support

Loewe claims this isn't really that big a deal as you can get plenty of relatively affordable external set-top boxes that offer such functionality.

But you still can't ignore the fact that almost every other TV in the UK DOES offer such video streaming features built in.

Also, no affordable, mass market external streaming boxes currently support the 4K UHD streams from Netflix and Amazon, whereas support for these key 4K sources is now built into almost all rival 4K TVs now.

For the record I should add that the Connect 55 also doesn't support high dynamic range (HDR) playback. Though nor do the vast majority of other TVs currently available, and it's also important to stress that no HDR content at all is currently available.

The Connect 55 does support 3D playback, though unfortunately you don't get any 3D glasses included for free, and I wasn't sent any to use for this test.