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Loewe BluTech Vision Blu-ray Player
The BluTech Vision is Loewe's debut Blu-ray player and is everything you'd expect from the revered German brand - expensive, esoteric and gob-smackingly stylish. It comes in a choice of Anthracite or Chrome Silver, and the fascia is fitted with a drop down panel that hides everything, leaving only a silver porthole in the centre that gives it a sense of uniformity with Loewe's TVs and audio components. Sadly the front panel isn't motorised, which would have been the icing on the cake (something you'll find on the cheaper Sony BDP-S500) but on the whole this is one of the best-looking Blu-ray decks out there.
Open up that front panel and you'll uncover the disc tray and two buttons, but not even a sniff of a USB port or memory card slot. All the important business is round the back, with an encouraging set of connections that includes an HDMI v1.3 output that can output Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS HD soundtracks in bitstream form as well as 1080p pictures at 24 frames-per-second. You'll also find a set of component video outputs (though you can't output from component and HDMI simultaneously) plus S-video and composite ports, the latter still a bizarre inclusion on a hi-def player.
Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams can be transferred to your receiver using either the optical or coaxial digital audio outputs. Alternatively you can hook up the 5.1-channel analogue outputs and listen to decoded Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. However, there are no built-in Dolby True HD or DTS HD decoders, and the unit doesn't support DTS HD Master Audio at all, making its audio talents seriously limited. Rounding up the sockets are separate stereo audio output and a USB socket for software updates.
As well as BD-ROM discs, the unit happily supports BD-R/RE and DVDs, upscaling the latter to 1080p if desired. It'll also play your collection of home-burned DVD+R/-R/-RW discs, plus CDs and CD-R/RWs, but the disc's inability to play discs containing MP3, WMA and DivX files is a real let-down.
Also disappointing is that the BluTech Vision is a Profile 1.0 player, which means there's no chance of accessing picture-in-picture features found on some recent Blu-ray releases (load Resident Evil: Apocalypse and the PIP feature is nowhere to be found), and even less chance of accessing BD Live features (the lack of Ethernet port is just one of several reasons why).