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B&O BeoVision 11 review

Bang & Olufson's latest TV delivers luxurious looks and performance

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Usability

Considering how many features it carries, the Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11 is mostly pretty easy to handle. Its on-screen menus are clear and comprehensive, and do a reasonably sensible job of layering their content so that novice users aren't overwhelmed with technical features unless they want to seek them out.

Also appreciated is the facility to give your own labels to each HDMI input (having six could be confusing, otherwise), and as noted earlier, the way one of the HDMIs is built into a pop-out slot towards the top of the TV's rear for easy access by temporary devices such as digital cameras and camcorders is a great user-friendly touch.

The remote control is in some ways a work of art, too. Its gorgeous metallic finish, elongated narrow design and flash LCD display at its top end instantly mark it out as a high-end handset, as does the gorgeous responsiveness of the buttons, and the in-places quite innovative button layout.

Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 11 review

The remote control does, though, for all its gorgeousness, feel a bit outdated. For instance, the buttons for selecting AV inputs aren't comprehensive enough, requiring you to head in to the TV's main menus to select some of the inputs. It doesn't help, either, that one of the AV input buttons is labelled 'CD'.

It's also a pity there's no one-button access to the TV's online/multimedia features, and that the remote doesn't particularly help with surfing the net when it comes to either moving the cursor around or inputting text into search fields. Certainly a few other mainstream brands are forging ahead with their multimedia control handsets this year.

One final smaller issue is that the tiny little nub on the remote you have to use to move your cursor left, right up or down can be a tad sore on your fingers.

If you're feeling alarmed by the potential complexities of stuff like the external speaker configuration, don't worry: if you buy a Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11 it will of course be installed for you by B&O.

Sound

Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 11 review

Let's keep this simple: the Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11 produces the best audio performance we've ever heard from a TV. Especially if you're lucky enough to be taking advantage of its various surround sound options.

Even if you're only using the built-in speakers, though, you'll be enjoying a truly outstanding audio performance. The sheer power the built-in speakers can produce is huge by TV standards, enabling them to deliver a wide, dynamic, beautifully open soundstage that wouldn't sound out of place on a separates system.

The level of audio precision is terrific too, in terms of both the placement of effects in a stereo or pseudo-surround sound stage and the hi-fi-like way the TV is able to separate out all the audio elements. This avoids the muddiness in the mid-range that you get with most skinny TVs, without making the sound stage lose cohesion.

Just occasionally while watching Blu-rays the vocal track seemed to be coming from slightly below the image rather than within it, but such moments are rare, and you can also reduce the sensation by slightly tilting the screen back.

Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 11 review

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The Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11's audio is so good, in fact, that we often found ourselves using the TV to play CDs rather than our usual hi-fi system. So maybe that CD button on the remote wasn't so daft after all.

It's worth stressing again, too, just how exceptionally wide-ranging the TV's audio set-up options are, taking in such unprecedented (for a TV) fine-tuning options as frequency tilt, bass management, a fader, and spatial controls (including stage width, height and envelopment options).

Even a TV with as much power and precision as the Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11 can still sound a touch harsh in the treble register if the volume's extremely high and the audio being played is extremely dense.

But all this suggests, perhaps, is that B&O might have been better off if it more strictly limited the volume levels you can push the Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11 to. Measured against the TV world at large, the Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11's audio is simply in another league.

Value

Of course, most people won't be able to think about spending £5,250 (around US$7,972 / AU$7,622) or more on a 40-inch TV. But just as there are luxury cars, luxury yachts and luxury hi-fis, surely there's no reason why there shouldn't also be luxury TVs, right?

Especially when a TV goes to such great design, feature and performance lengths to justify its premium existence as the Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11 does.