Interview: Loewe and the future of TV technology

posted on Monday, 18th March 2013 by Steve May

Smart  LED  Trade 

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"We have ambitious plans for expansion in the UK." So says James McConnell, Loewe UK Managing Director. The high-end German consumer electronics brand has been making rapid inroads into the custom install and premium AV business, helped in no small part by its channel distributor AWE Europe, and doesn't seem to be of a mind to slow down any time soon. McConnell, who has overseen a significant restructuring of the company since assuming the hot seat last March, recently took time out to talk tech with Inside CI on the current hot topics dominating the TV industry - notably Smart networking, 4K Ultra HD and OLED…

Consumer awareness of Smart TV technology is undoubtedly growing, but there remain concerns about ease of use. So what's Loewe take on the Smart TV proposition? Is there more to Smart than just BBC iPlayer?

"As far as we're concerned, the Smart TV concept is not just about online browsing and widgets. For example, we remain the only TV brand that fully integrates hard-disk recording/streaming into our TVs, in the form of DR+ technology. This delivers full PVR functionality, and also enables content to be streamed (wired or wirelessly) between multiple Loewe TVs, creating an elegant multi-room system. DR+ enables unique Smart functions like Follow Me, which enables the viewer to pause the action in one room and resume watching where they left off in another..."

How significant is the development of second screening? Loewe teased a concept dual screen TV at the 2011 IFA tech show that was extremely precient. At the time you said you said it was a fully working sample, and that it could be made if there was sufficient demand…

"Today expanding functionality by utilising devices like tablets and smartphones is important - so we're planning to introduce further developments in this regard later this year. Delivering a rich yet easy-to-use Smart TV experience is a crucial part of modern TV design, but there are many third-party licensing and territorial issues involved, so it's not always easy..."

Where does Loewe stand with 3D? How important a feature is it for consumers when it comes to buying a new TV? Has 3D TV been a success or a disappointment in your view?

"We regard 3D as a necessity - it's simply not possible to deliver a premium-quality TV without ticking the 3D box. It's fair to say that 3D has not been the massive sales driver that some manufacturers hoped, thanks to lack of content and a degree of disinterest among consumers - quite simply, not enough of them have been persuaded that 3D is a compelling reason to upgrade their existing TVs. Of course, being Loewe, we don't do anything half-cocked - we make sure we deliver an excellent HD 3D experience by adopting Full HD Active Shutter technology and ensuring it's properly engineered and integrated into our sets, with comfortable, high-quality glasses and so on. That said, we have always believed that most content will always be viewed in 2D, and therefore 2D picture quality remains a priority. From a manufacturer's point of view, it remains a relatively important part of the TV landscape - if not the headline-grabbing technology it once was. That said, glasses-free 3D could prove interesting..."

What's new in terms of picture quality improvements and design for 2013. Loewe is far from conservative when it comes to aesthetics…

"With LED-backlit LCD, it's really a question of continuing to refine panel and processing technologies to squeeze out even better pictures. A lot of this is software driven, of course. At Loewe, we're not interested in engaging in 'spec wars', or shouting about having the skinniest TV. We want to deliver an exceptional viewing experience, by engineering every aspect of each TV to the highest possible standard. Things like top-quality filter glass help to enhance picture quality, while our integrated CRX sound systems deliver rich, detailed and dynamic audio far in advance of most LCD TVs."

Looking forward, OLED technology looks set to accelerate advances both in picture quality and display design. Does OLED figure on the Loewe roadmap yet?

"OLED certainly has the potential to deliver a number of advantages over existing LCD displays - thinner, lighter and better for real blacks, but the technology is still evolving when it comes to quality, reliability and price. In the meantime, there are some fabulous screens out there already, using good ol' fashioned LED-backlit LCD technology!"

What of 4K Ultra HD? Many commentators are hailing it as just as significant as the shift to Full HD.

"4K is an interesting development and an undoubted step forward technologically - one that Loewe is following closely. We will always strive to deliver a better user experience, in terms of both picture and sound quality and Ultra HD is one way in which that could happen. Of course, it'll take a few years before the technology can be delivered at a price that a large number of consumers can afford. But as with all new technologies and formats, content is king. Will there be sufficient 4K content available to make it a compelling feature? It's certainly true that most people are still delighted with Full HD. Will people see the need for even greater definition, and will UK consumers have the space to accommodate the super-large screens that make 4K worthwhile?"

So what can custom installers, dealers and enthusiasts expect from Loewe during 2013?

"We are launching more TV ranges than ever before at a time when some brands are slashing their product lines. From a trade perspective, we have revamped our terms to make it easier to sell Loewe and, as always, retain margins. Loewe could be described as a 'boutique' TV brand. Our approach is to offer a premium user experience by focusing on things that the mass-market brands are not in a position to deliver. For example, our Individual Design concepts deliver an unrivalled degree of tailoring in terms of colours, materials, system configurations and so on, enabling the end user to custom-build the perfect TV for their living and viewing requirements. This is Loewe's unique proposition. When you supply a customer with his or her first Loewe TV, you're not just selling a telly - you're delivering an entry-point to the Loewe ecosystem."

CI Distribution is via AWE Europe. For more on AWE Europe visit our partner page

Also Read:
Loewe Connect ID 55 DR+ TV review 

 

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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