The slightly non-plussed feelings we’re experiencing towards the Xelos A26 so far sadly extend into its picture performance. The main problem is simply this: that black levels don’t get deep enough compared with some of the best competition out there. Watch a dark scene on the Xelos A26 and you can’t fail to notice that the blackest corners have a grey mist over them – a common revealer of contrast problems which additionally obscures background details, flattens the picture and sometimes causes you to have to strain your eyes to make out what’s going on.
It’s a relief after this bad start to find that in practically all other areas, Loewe’s customary picture prowess remains in evidence. Few LCD pictures look as sharp and detailed, for instance, especially – though not exclusively - when it comes to high definition. PC and Xbox 360 games look particularly fine in this regard, except for where the black level issue makes it hard to actually make out any detail at all…
The Xelos A26 enjoys strikingly vivid colours too – so much so, in fact, that for a decent percentage of your viewing time you’ll be so busy salivating over the picture’s vibrancy that you won’t even notice the black level problems.
It’s not just their vividness that impresses with colours either, as they also enjoy one of the more natural tones in the LCD world. Even better, unlike some LCD rivals the Loewe’s colour tone doesn’t deteriorate while watching lower quality sources like the analogue tuner or a low bit-rate digital broadcast.
Loewe has become renowned for its TVs’ sound quality – and that reputation sure isn’t about to be dented by the Xelos A26. In fact, it’s hard to believe that so much power and clarity could be possible from such a small, flat TV – especially given that the huge dynamics and soundstage are achieved without any trace of speaker distortion or cabinet rattle.
In some ways Loewe’s little Xelos A26 is desirable in the extreme. It looks divine, is built to last, and its audio rocks harder than some home cinema systems we’ve heard. But ultimately its contrast shortfall and lack of traditional Loewe flexibility make its price tag a little hard to swallow.