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Home / Reviews / TVs / Loewe Stellar OLED TV hands-on review: for those about to rock

Loewe Stellar OLED TV hands-on review: for those about to rock

Concrete-backed stunner majors on style

Loewe Stellar TV hands-on lead

Initial Stuff Verdict

Equal parts design piece and tech-savvy telly, the Loewe Stellar is shaping up to be a stunning 4K OLED – albeit a particularly pricey one.

Pros

  • Looks fantastic before you turn it on
  • Locally-built OLED panel promises superb picture
  • Smart TV feels slick

Cons

  • Image quality an unknown right now
  • Undeniably expensive

Introduction

They’re often the centre point of our living rooms – so why not have a 4K TV that makes an impression before you even switch it on? That’s the thinking behind Loewe’s latest and greatest, the Stellar. This OLED flagship uses materials you’d never think had a place on a television, and rejects industry design trends for a silhouette that wouldn’t look out of place in an interior design catalogue.

Launching this month in Europe, the 42in Stellar will set you back a substantial £3299/€3,299 – more than twice as much as an LG C4 OLED in the same screen size. Likewise, at £4299/€4,299, the 55in Stellar is nearly double that of LG’s top-tier G4. Is there enough here to justify such an outlay? I got to take a closer look ahead of the official reveal to find out.

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Design & build: rock on

The Stellar will land initially in 42in and 55in screen sizes, with 48in, 65in, 77in, 83in and a colossal 97in set to follow later in the year. Whichever one you go for, you’ll be getting the same design – which is drop-dead gorgeous from both front and back.

With a rear cabinet made from a thin layer of actual concrete, with naturally-forming patterns unique to each set, this is one TV you’re not going to want to wall-mount. Not that you couldn’t, as the concrete doesn’t add a huge amount of weight; Loewe probably learned a few things from the Iconic i.55, which used liberal amounts of synthetic Syno-Stone for its immense stand.

Here the stone sits neatly inside a brushed aluminium frame, with Loewe’s signature ‘label’ logo subtly sticking out from the right side. Cinephiles might argue a black bezel is less distracting when watching movies; I’ll have to wait for a full review to pass judgment.

Every Stellar set has a built-in soundbar underneath its OLED panel – including the smallest 42in model. Loewe says there’s up to 200W of sound power here, though I’m betting that output is reserved for the largest of the line-up. Either way, the front-firing setup should give it an edge over rivals that use rear-firing drivers, at least where vocal clarity is concerned. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to properly crank up the volume during my hands-on session – and it wouldn’t have been a fair test anyway given the thumping background music being played in the demo area.

There’s a distinctive activity LED in the centre of the soundbar, which goes from a tiny dot while in standby mode to a thin white line as the TV winks into life. It’s an added piece of theatre that shows thought has gone into every aspect of the Stellar’s design.

That includes the X-shaped stand, which elevates the screen from your TV cabinet. It’s made of matching metal, and is wonderfully slim. It looks to me like all but the beefiest of dedicated soundbars should slide underneath, should you want.

Features: shine a light

Loewe doesn’t skimp on connectivity, with each of the four HDMI 2.1 ports at the rear supporting variable refresh rate and 144Hz from compatible sources. I like how the ports are hidden from view by plastic covers, and the included stand has a cutout for channeling cables through so as not to ruin the look with a bunch of messy wires. The triple TV tuner (aerial, cable and satellite) can save shows to an integrated SSD, saving the need for a separate PVR box.

There’s also a second, optional floor stand with a built-in motor, which lets you control the angle of the TV using the remote control. A Loewe rep told me there’ll be two on offer – one for the smaller models and a second for the larger ones – but neither were on display during the briefing session.

Ambient lighting beneath the TV’s bottom edge is a big new addition. Loewe calls it Magic Light; first it welcomes you when you switch on the TV, illuminating like a pair of curtains opening, then it stays on for a set time after you turn the TV off, so you can find your way out of a dark room if watching at night. The rest of the time it acts as static bias lighting in your choice of RGB colours.

This isn’t trying to beat Philips’ Ambilight tech. It doesn’t react to what’s onscreen, and the Loewe rep I spoke to said the firm wasn’t a fan of “plinky plinky” effects. Personally I’m all about the plinky plinky, and Ambilight is a fantastic reason to pick up a Philips TV, so it’s a bit of a shame there’s just static options here.

Smart TV: you’re Tizen me

Loewe won’t say exactly who helped craft the back-end of the Stellar’s Loewe os9 smart tv software – but it looks an awful lot like Tizen to me, albeit with some in-house additions. There aren’t so many that ex-Samsung owners won’t be able to find their way around easily enough.

It has all the catch-up and on-demand services you’d expect, with the slimline remote control giving each the Big Three (Netflix, Prime video and Disney+) their own shortcut button alongside Samsung’s TV Plus service.

I had a brief scroll through the various menus during my briefing, and found the TV very responsive to inputs.

Picture performance: home grown

Loewe is very proud of the fact the Stellar is the only OLED TV built in Europe with a self-developed display module. Each set is put together at the firm’s Kronach production facility, rather than imported from Asia. Although that’s where the panels themselves come from – LG supplies its open-cell MLA OLEDs.

That’s a win in my book. LG’s latest panels are some of the best OLEDs around for colour, clarity and brightness (not usually a strength of OLED). Loewe is in charge of image processing here, so don’t think this is just an LG G4 OLED in a fancy frock; there are sure to be big differences that will come to light in a side-by-side comparison.

Loewe’s demos were limited to a handful of looping SDR adverts, so don’t give the greatest representation of what the Stellar will be capable of once you get one in your living room. But I was impressed by the sharpness and the vibrant colours on show. Viewing angles seemed excellent – though if you’ll be watching at extreme angles, investing in the mechanical rotating floor stand seems like a sensible move.

Loewe Stellar initial verdict

Loewe Stellar TV hands-on verdict

Short of Bang & Olufsen’s stunning Beovision line-up, I can’t think of another TV with quite as much style as the Loewe Stellar. The use of concrete, the ambient lighting, the slim stand… it’s almost an art piece that can also play the evening news. While mainstream brands are shrinking bezels so much their sets all blur into one another, this is unmistakable as one of German manufacturer’s efforts.

I’m not ready to give a definitive verdict on image or audio quality – those will have to wait for a full review. And I can’t ignore you’re paying quite the premium for the design compared to LG, Samsung and Panasonic’s best OLED efforts. But if how your TV looks when it’s switched off matters just as much as the pictures it displays while turned on, the Stellar surely has to be on your shopping list.

Loewe Stellar technical specifications

Screen size(s)42in, 48in, 55in, 65in, 77in, 83in, 97in
Resolution3840×2160
HDR formatsHDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG
Inputs4x HDMI 2.1, triple tuner
Smart TV OSProprietary
DimensionsTBC
Profile image of Tom Morgan-Freelander Tom Morgan-Freelander Deputy Editor

About

A tech addict from about the age of three (seriously, he's got the VHS tapes to prove it), Tom's been writing about gadgets, games and everything in between for the past decade, with a slight diversion into the world of automotive in between. As Deputy Editor, Tom keeps the website ticking along, jam-packed with the hottest gadget news and reviews.  When he's not on the road attending launch events, you can usually find him scouring the web for the latest news, to feed Stuff readers' insatiable appetite for tech.

Areas of expertise

Smartphones/tablets/computing, cameras, home cinema, automotive, virtual reality, gaming

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