A novelty TV roundup just wouldn't be complete without a screen from those Danish purveyors of all things stylish, unusual and expensive, Bang & Olufsen. A high-end brand with the huge price tags to match, B&O doesn't launch a new TV that often, but when it does, it likes to do something a little different.
With its latest offering, the BeoVision 7, the company has included two novelty items - a motorised stand and a built-in DVD player. Then there's the massive speaker, which is almost bigger than the TV itself, and that fact that it looks simply gorgeous. 32in LCD screens may be the most common flat TV flavour around at the moment, but this certainly isn't a run-of-the-mill model.
While the motorised stand is a nice touch, it's really more of a gimmick than a serious home cinema add-on. In terms of added value (and we want all we can get at this price!) we're more interested in that DVD player. But where is it, we here you ask? Well, a flick of the eject command on the remote control sets off a silent chain reaction that sees an invisible door lift to allow a DVD tray to fold out from one side.
What's more, turning on the BeoVision 7 is like being at the cinema, with digital 'curtains' opening to reveal the TV picture. Another cool touch is the fact that the volume level is displayed in red text that slides between levels (when adjusted from the remote control). But, as we've said before, we're not swayed by mere swanky design touches. We want to know if this screen is a case of style over substance.
The connections don't inspire confidence. While there are both component and digital DVI inputs, they were deactivated on our sample. Component video inputs would obviously be of limited use to most because of the built-in DVD player, but personally we'd like the option to hook-up a top-end player. And the DVI input is at present is only configured for high-def from a PC, and not for Sky's planned HD services. A free upgrade from B&O will apparently activate the component inputs, while a hardware upgrade will be available in September (cost unconfirmed) to make the DVI HDCPcompliant. Small consolation, if you ask us.
Once the curtains opened on our test disc, The Big Lebowski, however, we were mostly very pleased with what were saw. First up, picture noise is incredibly thin on the ground, leaving the crazy antics of our bowling-fanatic heroes looking clean and detailed. What's more, movement - so often LCD's downfall - is very well handled, with even the comical fight scenes between the bowlers and the anarchists looking smooth and flicker-free. Colours, meanwhile, look a little muted, but were never unnatural.
In fact, our only cause for concern is that there isn't a great deal of detail apparent in dark scenes - indicating a slightly under par contrast performance.
The lack of component video meant that we couldn't run our test HD material through the BeoVision 7. Still, while there's no integrated tuner, analogue pictures looked stable and vibrant, while with Freeview things were even better.
The three-way active loudspeakers, meanwhile, are our favourite novelty feature. They pump out bass-laden soundtracks in such a cohesive manner that for once we'd be tempted to not bother with separate surround sound speakers at all. For those who can't resist, however, the speaker can also act as a centre channel.
Dodgy connections aside, the BeoVision 7 is a tempting luxury option, combining very good DVD images with seriously great audio. One for those after a touch of class.