Bang & Olufsen has never been a brand to just follow the herd. It’s consistently refused to have any truck with creating product designs that in any way track the latest trends and, of course, it’s consistently refused to compromise the ‘B&O way’ by trying to follow the constantly downward TV pricing slide that’s all but decimated the TV business over the past five years.
Or to put it another way, B&O is the Bentley of the TV world.
This inevitably means that its designs won’t suit everyone, and that its prices will be well beyond the pockets of your average British household. But hopefully B&O’s premium pricing will also mean that its 40-inch BeoVision 11-40 TV under scrutiny today is possessed of some seriously brilliant performance skills.
We guess we should probably get the vulgar price bit out-of-the-way before going any further. So here you go: the BeoVision 11-40 costs £5,250. And that’s without adding in any of the extras B&O will sell you. Whether that's extortionate or 'aspirational' will depend on who you are and whether you're on first name terms with your bank manager.
As the most cursory glance at the pictures will attest, if you’ve got the dosh for a BeoVision 11-40, you’re rewarded with a heck of a lot more physical presence than you get with your typical 40-inch TV - any 40-inch TV ever, come to think of it.
The screen itself only occupies around two-thirds of the BeoVision 11-40's total surface area, with the bottom third being given boldly over to a speaker system which, on paper at least, should leave typical flat TV sound systems sounding like two tins and a piece of string by comparison.
Tucked away under the detachable felt cover are no less than six 32W Class D amplifiers, driving two sets of four-inch woofers, 2in mid-range drivers and three-quarter inch tweeters. As if all that audio hardware wasn’t already startling enough, the BeoVison 11 series of TVs can also power an astounding 10 external speakers, within which you can establish as many as nine different defined speaker groups for different uses in different areas of your living space.
Even better, B&O’s home-grown TrueImage audio processing engine has the smarts to adapt to whatever speakers you’ve got connected to whatever sound format you’re listening to, downmixing or adding virtual extra speakers as appropriate, with all current domestic multi-channel audio standards supported. This is all remarkable stuff that speaks volumes – literally! – about the lengths B&O is prepared to go to in removing compromise from its TVs.
Wrapped around the whole speaker and screen combination is a large glinting silver metal frame, embossed in deliriously touchable fashion with the Bang & Olufsen logo. This whole chassis was then mounted for our review on a beautifully built silver floor stand upon which the set can be rotated via the remote control. With this stand you can even programme the TV to turn to preset angles of your choosing when the TV is turned on and off.
Still more evidence of the BeoVision 11-40’s truly premium status, though, comes from the customisability of its design. The main chassis is available in silver or black, the cloth grille over the speakers comes in (interchangeable) red, white, black, silver, grey or petrol blue variations, and even the set’s rear comes in white or black incarnations. Plus you can choose various mounting options beyond the rotating floor stand we used.
In short, the BeoVision 11-40 can be made to measure up aesthetically to pretty much any designer home it should happen to be destined for.
We’re not nearly done with the BeoVision 11-40’s features yet, either. For instance, it’s up to speed with today’s multimedia world, offering both access (wireless or wired) to an online content platform and multimedia playback from USB devices. You can even (for an extra £599) buy the TV fitted with a built-in 500GB hard disk video recorder that timeshifts immaculately from the built-in Freeview HD tuner.
The BeoVision 11-40 is 3D-capable too, as you would expect, and goes for the active (full HD) format still considered by most brands to offer the ‘premium’ 3D experience over the more convenient passive option. If you want to make use of these 3D capabilities, though, you’ll have to find an extra £120 for each pair of 3D glasses you need to keep your household happy.