October 17 2009
One of my wealthiest, favourite friends lost his business a while ago and had to downscale at warp speed from a manor house, a Porsche and a helicopter to a rented former council house and the bus. Being particularly impressive, he not only quickly built a new business which is now almost as big as the original, but is also philosophical about his “down” time. “It’s funny about big houses,” he confided. “You have a really big room, so you get really big sofas and a really big television. But when you work it out, if you have a smaller room and the TV is nearer, you get the same size of image. And if you get a smaller high-definition TV, the picture’s actually better, so you seem to win in every way.”
Having duly reported my pal’s pearls of wisdom, I have to say that I’m an unrepentant advocate of big screens. I even have a 42in Sony Bravia in a small London terraced-house living room. My kids’ friends come in, do that young person “Oh. My. God” thing and say it’s the grossest, fattest, bourgeois-est thing they’ve ever seen. I tell them I think it’s too small. They think I’m joking; the children, eyes rolling, say they’re sorry but their father really does think it’s too small. Seriously, if I could get a 103in TV in the space (and if they didn’t still cost nearly £100K), I’d go for it.
And so to the plush and beautiful 6cm-thin TV we have here. The much-awaited Loewe Reference is based around a staggeringly good 52in, floor-standing-only, £9,450 TV. With this, you can buy a mix of extra matching bits which can easily total another £8,500. These include some amazing flat, electrostatic speakers (although the set’s own audio is already fantastic), a stunning motorised stand, a media centre too complicated to go into here and all manner of streaming stuff to channel every imaginable combination of audio and video around your home. Loewe will even visit you to explain just what it can do; you pay £200 for this site survey, refundable if you buy. Purchase includes installation (no small matter) and a concierge service offering 365-day help with problems.
Given that you can buy a splendid 50in-plus TV such as the Panasonic Viera for less than £1,500, you might think that, at £9,450, the Loewe is the world’s most costly television. Oddly enough, it’s not. Bang & Olufsen’s 50in BeoVision 9 comes in at over £15,000.
But technologically and aesthetically, the Loewe Reference is well up there with B&O, and is arguably the world’s most advanced TV. I’d simply recommend seeing the system for yourself. I suspect you’ll be sold.