Bang & Olufsen TVs is usually at the higher end of pricing - the much higher end. However, the company has, perhaps, surprised us all with its BeoPlay V1 TV. It sports the same design and aesthetic flair as a normal B&O product, but weighs in at a much lower price. You could even say that it's affordable to us mere mortals.
The set itself comes in two different sizes, 32 and 40 inches, but has no fewer than four ways of placement. It can be wall hung, with an optional bracket that allows it to swing out to offer the best viewing angle; there are desktop and floor stands, made from beefy steel bars; and then there's the intriguing method of hanging it from the ceiling by wires. We rather favour the last, but B&O wasn't quite likely to let a bunch of tech journos swing about from one like monkeys at the zoo, so we had to make do with examining the desk and floor-standing options in our hands-on.
As with most, if not all, Bang & Olufsen products, the BeoPlay V1 has been designed by someone who hails from the company's homeland, Denmark. And it is clear to see that Anders Hermansen is, by day, an industrial designer. The fascia is made from sheet metal, with the speaker grille stamped out at the bottom. The set comes in black or white, each with a powder-coated finish. It's all very high-end looking.
The only design customisation comes in the speaker grille itself, which can have a different coloured filter behind. There are several colours available, including green, yellow, red, black and grey, which just slot in behind the holes at the bottom of the screen. The effect is subtle, but may suit room designs and colour schemes better.
However, the most fun comes when you remove the connections cover on the rear. Alongside five HDMI inputs and a USB port, there's a hole and strapping to neatly attach an Apple TV. B&O has long had a good working relationship with it's "friends in Cupertino" and this is direct evidence of that. It still needs to be powered and have a connection to one of the HDMIs, but it sits very neatly and hidden when the flap is replaced.
That's not to say you can't input any number of other devices. In fact, it's positively encouraged, with the B&O remote able to control your AV kit alongside the Apple TV and the set itself. Pocket-lint saw both the Apple TV and a Blu-ray player operating on the TV through the controller, and it was pretty seamless.
We watched some of Adele's Albert Hall concert on the latter and a couple of things were immediately apparent. The 1080p 100Hz picture is very good - although we didn't have a chance to watch enough footage or calibrate the set itself to have a definitive opinion. And then there's the sound performance. Wow.
B&O may make pricey kit, but there's one thing that you can almost guarantee; it'll sound great. Therefore, for a TV, the BeoPlay V1 sounds fantastic. In flatscreen TV terms, it's a chunky old beast, but that's because it needs to shift some air. This set is capable of replacing a stereo player, it's that good. Certainly, it has volume, but there's also a clarity to vocal performance that you might normally take for granted.
The 40-inch has a two 2-inch full-range treble/midrange drivers in a closed box cabinet, one 4-inch centre bass unit in a closed box, and three 32 watt Class D ICEpower amplifiers, and they all make for a cinematic yet subtle experience. Great stuff.
We didn't get to see or hear the 32-inch model in action, and know that it has slightly less punch with two 2.5-inch full-range drivers in a closed box cabinet and one 32-watt Class D ICEpower amplifier per channel. However, for a set of that size, that should be more than enough.
Other specifications include media playing capabilities, through a connected USB stick or external hard drive. There's no Wi-Fi or internet connection and no 3D, so if you want features and braininess in your TV, look elsewhere. If you want stunning audio performance that you can literally hang from the rafters, this could be the one for you.
We'll have a much better idea about the video performance too when we review one soon.
The BeoPlay V1 costs £1,999 for the 32-inch model, £2,499 for the 40-inch. It's available from B&O stores from today (4 May) and more information can be found at www.beoplay.com.
What do you think? Are the BeoPlay V1's prices more attractive? Let us know in the comments below...