Loewe Spheros 37HD review

Loewe's style comes with plenty of substance

Our Verdict

It's not cheap, but it's worth begging or stealing in order to own one

Stylemeister Loewe has done it again. As with all its screens, the 37HDD has a design that's pure class, and tempting upgrade packages that promise a fantastic performance. But even Loewe fans should brace themselves for the amount of features packed under the bonnet here...

Almost ever extra offered by Loewe can be tacked on with no trouble, meaning that an entire home cinema setup can be created as and when your finances allow.

Our sample screen had a DR hard-disk recorder (an additional £400). This boasts 80GB of memory, and offers the ability to pause live TV and adjust recording quality over four different standards - very high, (around 20hrs of recording), high (30hrs), medium (45hrs) and standard (100hrs).

Black beauty

The most notable quality of the 37HD's impressive pictures is the devastating black level response - so often the soft underbelly of LCD screens. It is truly amazing, giving pictures from The Day After Tomorrow an impressive contrast range, depth of field and texture. A good example of this detail is the grim scene at the doomed Headland station, where the three climatologists make a toast to England, mankind and Manchester United in the flickering lights, as the generator finally packs in and certain death creeps nearer.

It's hugely impressive, and something that the majority of rivals simply cannot achieve. Unsurprisingly, the absence of the grey misting effect associated with poor black level response lets the colours look radiant, too. This radiance isn't delivered at the expense of naturalism, though, as colours - even low-lit skin tones - look entirely believable and authentic.

Silent running

The picture is also exceptionally noiseless, and suffers from practically no trace of the smearing problem often witnessed on LCD screens with slow screen response times. Accordingly, the images from The Day After Tomorrow where three choppers flying towards Balmoral to rescue the Monarch are suddenly frozen and fall from the skies, look clean and crisp.

The only time the 37HD's images showed any real signs of smear was with really low-quality analogue tuner sources. With sources like high-definition and progressive scan, the Spheros is predictably at its best, and we imagine that most people buying a screen at this price will know to partner it with a top-grade DVD player.

We encountered one or two problems with the set not automatically syncing to a high-definition signal, and had to manually increase the vertical size of the picture by a pixel or two to remove a visible scanning line at the screen's top. Although we wouldn't go as far as to rate the Spheros the best in its class when it comes to overall picture quality (despite that devastatingly good black level response), the images are always involving, and will more than satisfy all but the most eagle-eyed.

The HDD recorder is a nice option, although the interface could be polished up a bit to be made more user-friendly. Recorded results can be outstanding, depending on which bitrate level is selected. 'Very high' quality recordings are indistinguishable from the original broadcast, while things recorded using the more practical 'medium' setting are also highly watchable. Only the standard mode disappoints, and should be (easily) avoided.

By now it is fairly obvious that the Spheros 37HDD is aimed at the top-end of the home cinema market - you won't find it on the shelves of your local supermarket. It's intended to be the last word in LCD screen luxury, and in our opinion Loewe can consider its brief to be met.