Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A3 pictures and hands-on

Pocket-lint went to see Bang & Olufsen release a new TV and got a "one more thing" from the Danish company's CEO and president Tue Mantoni that Steve Jobs would have been proud of. B&O is to increase its iPad dock range (which currently consists of the BeoSound 8 and BeoSound A8 - with Apple Airplay) with BeoPlay A3, a sound system that effectively turns your tablet into a TV.

The device, which we were told was the product of close work with B&O's "friends in Cupertino", consists of three speakers and offers a deep and rich stereo audio experience regardless of whether you stand it horizontally or vertically.

This is down to the company's proprietary Adaptive Stereo Orientation technology. It utilises an omnidirectional 2-inch woofer in one corner, which delivers bass down to 60Hz, while three 0.5-inch tweeters are housed in the other three corners. Depending on which way the system is placed, it decides which of these to bring into play, ensuring that a full stereo experience is had no matter.

And to listen to it, you'd never guess that the BeoPlay A3 is relatively small - sound can be mighty from such a small footprint. We heard it tested with Adele's latest album, and the sound stage and clarity in volume were both impressive. About a billion times better than the iPad's own speakers, that's for sure.

The build is extraordinary too. Designed by Dane Steffen Schmelling, the speaker system is an angular wedge, with multiple resting positions. You can have it upright or laid on a slight angle so that you can type on the iPad itself. However, that's not really the point of the BeoPlay A3 - it's designed to turn your tablet into an entertainment display, with an audio system to suit.

Currently, the device is  authorised to work only with the first iPad and iPad 2. While it will work with the new iPad, B&O's Mantoni told us that the company is not happy with the performance offered when coupled to Apple's latest. Therefore, only sleeves for the former iPads are included in the box.

You pop your tablet into the rubberised case, and that clicks into the A3 - it's extremely simple to set up. The system has its own rechargeable battery and can also charge the enclosed iPad when hooked up to the mains. When not, the battery is expected to last up to eight hours.

It's also not that heavy - 1.5kg without the iPad - so is portable enough to take with you on business trips and the like, and there are plenty of applications for the system other than simply watching video. Mantoni explained that he uses it for Skype and Facetime, placing it on his desk. And he can see that advertising agencies would be able to show their wares to clients, with quality audio to go along with the visuals.

Certainly, from our brief time with it, the system delivers the goods.

The BeoPlay A3 will be in B&O stores from 21 May. It'll cost £449 and be available in black only at first, with a white version planned for the near future.



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