For years now TV manufacturers have been banging on to us about ‘convergence'. By which they mean the growing closeness between the worlds of the TV and the PC. Yet to be honest this promised land of ultimate, ‘do everything' home entertainment centres hasn't come to fruition to quite the extent we might have hoped.
One or two manufacturers have had a stab at it; Philips had a TV with an Ethernet port a year or two back, and quite a few sets now have USB ports or SD/MMC slots for playback of digital stills and, sometimes, MPEG movie and MP3 audio files. Some have even gone the whole convergence hog with a built-in Windows Media PC, such as Elonex's Lumina, Sony's VGC-LT1S.CEK, and Vivadi's Saturn HD50 - the latter setting you back many, many thousands of pounds.
But now another brand has emerged that seems hell bent on taking today's multimedia world seriously: Loewe. This German outfit has a long and distinguished history of being at the cutting edge of technology and design, and that history arguably seems to culminate in the Loewe Connect 37; a TV which, as its name suggests, can become a portal to playback in your living room of any multimedia files you may have on any PC around the house.
What's more, you don't even have to use cables to make this possible. For while the TV does indeed carry the inevitable Ethernet port, it's also got Wi-Fi capabilities built into its stunning frame. All you need to do is set up your PC to ‘talk' to the TV, and you'll be able to navigate and play all your PC-based MP3 and JPEG files through the TV. Neat.
Or at least it's neat when you finally get it working. For unless you happen to have a Windows Media PC, there's a good chance that you or, hopefully, your installer (Loewe TVs are generally installed by professionals) will spend a good hour or two - or more! - getting your computer system and all the relevant files on it recognised by your TV.
Still, once the seemingly inevitable teething pains have been sorted out, the system really does work very well. It's bizarrely thrilling to see your digital photos streaming wirelessly through to the TV, especially as the TV shows them in wonderful high resolution. It's worth adding, too, that the Connect 37 permits you to simultaneously stream music and images from your PC, so you can watch your pictures to the accompaniment of your favourite tunes, as if you'd gone to the bother of putting together a proper multimedia slide show.