So, Bang & Olufsen's finally made a 4K TV.
Yes, and not just any 4K TV – as you'd expect from the Danish company, the BeoVision Avant is packed with tech and rather beautiful to behold. It has some unique features, too – and Stuff ventured out to B&O headquarters in Struer to see them up close and personal.
Was it worth the trip?
Oh yes. The BeoVision Avant is quite a sight – a sleek aluminium and glass affair with a 55in 4K screen. It's quite chunky – at 9.64cm deep, it's no slimline flatscreen – but a clever layered design creates a depth-masking illusion. Around the back, two sliding aluminium panels conceal the ports – and there are no visible screws to be found anywhere on the TV set. It's all done in the name of "360-degree design" – ensuring that the back of the set is as nice to look at as the front.
Why's that, then? Surely the screen is the bit I'll be watching.
There's every chance that you'll be admiring the back of the Avant, thanks to its impressive party piece. Switch the set on, and it swivels to face one of three preset positions in the room on its motorised stand.
There are three different stands, in fact – the most impressive is the floor stand, which features a rotating base and column. That means that the Avant can be tucked up against the wall, but will move out from the wall to face your chosen seating position; obviously, if you're in the market for one of these TVs, you have a massive lounge with a dining table in one corner and sofas in the other.
The other stands are more simple; there's a hinged wall mount, and a table mount that lifts the set up from an angled resting position to vertical.
Sounds like quite a performance.
It certainly is; switch the set on, and "electronic curtains" will part, revealing the screen – a standard feature on Bang & Olufsen sets. New to the BeoVision Avant is the speaker array that drops down from the bottom of the screen, sliding apart to reveal the three-speaker setup.
This being B&O, no detail has been left to chance – the startup procedure has been timed so that the stand, the speaker array and the electronic curtains move at the same rate, completing their motion at the same time.
More after the break...
Nice. But what about the specs?
The Avant sports a 55in, 3840x2160 pixel LED panel, with local backlight dimming for clearer blacks and an anti-reflective glass screen. The screen on each set is calibrated using a 10-point factory measurement procedure, so if you don't like the screen on one set, you can fairly guarantee that you won't like any Avant – because they're all outputting the same picture.
B&O's also kitted out the Avant with Chromatic Room Adaptation. A dual light sensor unit on the top right of the set measures the light levels and colour tone of the ambient light, adjusting the white point of the picture to suit. So if the light in your room's reddish, it'll slowly dial up the red to keep the perceived colour on the screen neutral.
So does the Avant. That little speaker array packs in three 2in midrange speakers for left, right and centre channels. That means that dialogue can be fed through the centre channel, where the faces appear on screen – just like a cinema speaker system. There's also a 4in forward-facing woofer and a rear-facing 6.5in woofer, powered by a 60w class D amplifier. Depending on whether the TV's mounted on a wall or facing out into the room, the TV will adjust the bass to optimise performance and minimise distortion.
If that isn't enough noise for you, there are 21 output channels (eight wireless, ten wired, and the TV's own three channels). You can connect a 7.1 surround sound system wirelessly; if you're using B&O's own speakers, it'll recognise the model and adjust sensitivity, latency and bass sensitivity accordingly. And you can create up to 9 speaker groups, to suit your different viewing positions.
And how do I control all this?
Using Bang & Olufsen's rather snazzy new remote control. The BeoRemote 1 is milled from a single piece of aluminium, with a pleasing heft to it in the hand. It's designed for ease of use; common functions are placed for your thumb, while TV and Music buttons cycle through an array of presets. Want to fire up a movie, YouTube or Spotify? Just cycle through the TV or Music menu and it'll load up all your presets and launch.
Ah yes, apps. Is it a smart TV?
Nope – rather than faffing about with proprietary smart TV software, B&O has delegated; there's a space in the back that'll accommodate an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or Roku box – there's also a slot for an external HDD. It's a clever move, meaning that you'll be able to update the set indefinitely by just plugging in the latest smart TV box. Yes, it means shelling out an extra £50-£100 (S$104 - S$208) for smart TV capability, but let's be honest: if you're in the market for a Bang & Olufsen TV, that's not going to make a dent in your bank account.
Yeah, about that – how much does it cost?
Surprisingly little for a Bang & Olufsen 4K TV, actually. You can pick one up in B&O shops now for £5995 (S$12,469), though you'll have to pay extra for the stands. The motorised stands add an extra £1195 (S$2,485) to the price, while a static stand can be had for £600 (S$1,248).
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