Bang & Olufsen has unveiled the latest television in its high-end, design-led range of consumer tech goods. The Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11 is a top-of-the-line LED/LCD-based panel with built-in home cinema amp and on-board speakers attached in a continuation of the screen at the bottom, giving the TV an oddly square form rather than the more modern widescreen look.
The display itself is manufactured by Samsung, to B&O's design specification, which results in a 200Hz capable panel edge-lit by two strips of LEDs and with a backlight definable down to 16 individual segments of local dimming. Like all TVs in this age, it's 3D-enabled and it's a feature which the Danish company has taken great care to perfect. B&O has aimed to reduce the dreaded crosstalk effect particularly when the BeoVision 11 is still cold and not yet at full operational temperature to ensure that users can appreciate good 3D from the very start to the very end of their viewing.
As with all modern televisions, you can fiddle with the picture, colour and noise reduction settings to your heart's content but B&O might encourage you instead to leave that role to the 360-degree light sensor on the top edge of the BeoVision 11. It's an acrylic prism whose shape has been precisely designed to detect the ambient light in the room from all angles, including any reflections or backlighting there may be even behind the television.
Pocket-lint was at the unveiling of the BeoVision 11 to get a demo of just how that works and, although for our money you might want to switch off some of that picture processing for a more natural effect, the quality of the screen and the function of the light sensor was generally very good.
Sound is entrusted to a set of two three-way speakers positioned, not unlike the BeoVision 11's kidneys, either side at the bottom of the front face and, we had to say that it was the sound that impressed us most about this set. With the company's heritage rooted so firmly in audio, perhaps that should have been of little surprise, but even without plugging in any more than the built-in 2.0 set up, there was easily enough of both the detail and quality in the top and mid-range and the welly in the bass to keep plenty of people satisfied with this TV alone.
That said, if you've got the kind of budget to afford the BeoVision 11 - which starts at €5,995 - then you'd be a fool not to be adding in some speakers on top. The built-in AVR can handle up to 16 channels of audio, outputting up to 10 channels in just about any configuration you'd care to arrange. Where previous BeoVision products have locked the user out of doing this all themselves, the 11 now allows as much granular control as you think you have the expertise to handle.
That includes three levels of speaker height as well as all the front, side, centre and rear positions you'd care to set up. And, if you've managed to clean yourself out saving up for the telly, you'll be relieved to know that the BeoVision 11 will work just as happily with any brand of speaker you'd like to attach.
Along with the 10 audio-out connectors, you get 6 x HDMI slots available, an Ethernet port and 2 x USB sockets too. What's nice is that a couple of those are positioned on an easy access panel at the top for more temporary device connections along with a 3.5mm headphones jack. The rest are in the main bank towards the bottom.
At the same time, of course, you also get Wi-Fi built in, along with DLNA compatibility and Network Link which is the promise that you can push and pull content between and the BeoVision 11 and any other B&O hardware you might have in the house. So, you can quite happily go on listening to the audio from the news on your telly through the speakers in a B&O Play device in the kitchen or stream music back in the other direction. We're promised that all of that is done seamlessly through the B&O app available on both iPad and Android tablets but we'll be interested to see how simply that works practice.
The Bang & Olufsen Smart TV platform is something new for BeoVision products and the company has worked hard on the chip running the show to make sure that there's little delay when flitting between apps or using the on-screen browser, the latter of which works particularly nicely with the Qwerty keyboard input on the tablet apps. You get iPlayer, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and it's all put together using HTML5 rather than Flash.
You can record on to the HDD inside the set, which offers twin tuner functionality so that you can record one channel while still watching another or simply time shift if that's all that's required.
Despite cramming all that inside, the BeoVision 11 is still thinner than its predecessor and now features a redesigned frame. You can still opt between wall-mounting or supporting the TV on the quite astounding silent, motorised stand but B&O has also come up with a new hinged wall bracket which can tilt your television out to a 90-degree angle. Once again, it's powered and makes absolutely no noise whatsoever. Both will automatically remember which angle you like to watch from when stowed away.
The BeoVision 11 will come in three panel sizes when it arrives on 11 October - 40”, 46” and 50”. There are 24 colour combinations to choose from, given that there's either a black or silver frame; black or white rear and six different speaker grill shades - petrol blue, white, black, dark grey, silver and red.