Thankfully the quality of Blu-ray playback is good enough to spare the BluTech’s blushes. The deck produces stunning 1080/24p images that make the most of the hi-def format, bringing an immense amount of detail to the screen – a quality best demonstrated by panoramic shots of the New York city streets or sequences involving ”Spider-Man 3’s” Sandman. Even the minutest details look sharp and focused, with the exceptional black level giving the image a deep and punchy character that holds up brilliantly on a large home cinema display.
Also, colours are richly saturated and skin tones are perfectly balanced, while the combination of clean processing and all-digital pixel mapping results in a complete lack of noise. The 24fps output keeps movement looking smooth, natural and judder-free, though vertically scrolling objects (such as end credits) do judder slightly.
Switching to DVD playback, the Loewe’s upscaled picture quality is good but not great. The image is clean and strongly coloured but detail reproduction lacks conviction, making The Two Towers’ picture look softer than it does on some rival hi-def decks and upscaling DVD players.
However, the BluTech Vision’s sound quality is top-notch. Using the built-in decoder and analogue outputs, the core Dolby Digital track is cleanly separated and smoothly steered, while dialogue is prominent and rear-channel effects are delivered with aplomb. With DVD-Audio and SACD off the agenda, this deck’s music performance is judged on CD playback alone, and it doesn’t disappoint. Through the analogue stereo outputs, The Crusaders’ ”Street Life” CD sounds wonderfully smooth and funky thanks to the fluid fusion of buoyant bass, crisp treble and solid midrange.
If you’re looking for visual decadence then no-one does it quite like Loewe, and the BluTech Vision is yet another addition to its impressive portfolio of eye-catching kit. It’ll make a stylish addition to your system, particularly if that system is made up of matching Loewe kit, but despite its seductive exterior we’re not enamoured by what’s under the hood – the profile 1.0 specification and limited hi-res audio support are bad enough, but the poor multimedia compatibility, sluggish interface and patchy performance rub salt in the wound, particularly at this price. You’re better off buying the Panasonic DMP-BD30, which is a cheaper and more talented player that gets you many more features and Profile 1.1 capabilities into the bargain.
Score in detail