Iconic B&O looks and a dream performer, but the picture and price isn't complete perfection

Whenever a new Bang & Olufsen TV appears, you can be sure its design will be utterly iconic. So it goes with the BeoVision 7-40 - and then some.

The version of this 40in LCD we tested looks resplendent in its gloss-black, mirror finish screen surround, anodised aluminium outer frame and optional (add £425 to the 'tabletop' price above), hydraulically rotating, screen-tilting 'pole' stand. Another cool touch is that extraordinary looking speaker bar running below the screen. Two speakers are available: one mono centre channel option, the 7-4, and a bigger three-way stereo version, the 7-2, which we used for our tests.

Battle the bulge

We've saved the best bit till last, though. See that little bulge under the middle of the screen? Well, believe it or not it houses a sumptuous, built-in DVD player. Lightly press a button under the TV's bottom ledge and a DVD tray will slide out in high-tech fashion, complete with little lights to help you see what you're doing.

Connectivity includes an HDCP-enabled DVI jack and component video inputs in keeping with the HD Ready specification, plus a trio of Scarts (all RGB ready). The DVI jack can also take PC inputs. We couldn't possibly cover all of the 7-40's features in the space available here. But more highlights include control of a Sky box via the BeoLink 4 handset, playback of CDs, DivX files, MP3s, JPEGs and Video CDs by the DVD section and the facility to link into a full B&O home installation.

The 7-40's performance is seriously impressive. Pictures using our Gladiator test DVD are phenomenally rich and stable - partly due to the wonderfully rich colours and partly to superlatively subtle greyscaling and colour gradations that give pictures endless depth and texture.

The TV's black levels are also good and seem deep and packed with shadow detailing. In fact, fine detailing in general is first rate, as evidenced spectacularly by the shots of the crowd in the Colosseum. It's good to note, too, that there's no overt MPEG blocking noise from the built-in DVD deck - or noise of any other sort, come to that.

One final strength of the picture, though, also gives rise to its greatest weakness. For while motion looks unusually smooth and cinematic, the processing that causes this can also cause shimmering noise around moving edges. But this glitch still means the picture is excellent rather than all-out great.

Time at the bar

The 7-2 stereo sound 'bar', however, is truly great. CD playback enjoys genuinely hi-fi levels of power, clarity and frequency range, while everything in Gladiator is delivered with unprecedented power and dynamism.

It's tricky to form a conclusion about the BeoVision 7-40. On the one hand, its build quality and design are without equal, and it's a mostly dreamy performer to boot. On the other, its price is extreme and the picture isn't completely perfect.

Ultimately, though, we suspect that for anyone even considering buying a B&O TV the cost issue probably isn't an issue at all, and the little motion glitch probably seems a tiny price to pay for all the other uniquely opulent B&O glories.