Pricey TV mixes 4K resolution and motorised movement

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/ Updated: May 8, 2014 9:00 AM PDT

Does your TV have 4K resolution? Does it rotate to face around your living room on a motorised base? Does it cost a fortune? If the answer to all of these questions is "no", you might want to check out the Bang and Olufsen BeoVision Avant.

It's a 55-inch telly with a 4K display that sits on a motorised pole that allows it to automatically face different directions, depending on where you want to sit in your room. Sounds cool, right? You'll be shelling out a huge amount of money for that coolness. The TV alone will set you back $7,995 in the US or £5,995 in the UK, while the motorised stand is a whopping £1,195 extra.

The Avant is on sale from today in B&O and other high-end AV stores in the UK, the US, Australia, Brazil, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, India and in Europe. I went in for a hands on at its London launch event.

Design

Although known for some pretty outlandish designs with its speakers (have you seen the BeoPlay A9?), B&O hasn't opted for hexagons, cylinders or tesseracts as shapes for its new TV. Instead, it's a regular rectangle shape and at first look doesn't seem to have any of the characteristically whacky twists we've come to expect.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

That's not to say it's dull though -- far from it. Its aluminium surrounding is really slick and B&O boasts that the back panel is entirely free of exposed screw heads or connectors. Of course, if you're planning to put it against, or mount it to a wall in your living room, an aesthetically pleasing back probably isn't high on your list of priorities.

At 96mm thick, the TV is surprisingly chunky, particularly considering it uses edge-type LED backlighting, which usually results in a slimmer panel. It won't take over your living room like an old CRT, but it's not as skinny as models from Samsung or LG, which may be an issue if you plan to mount it on your wall.

Part of the reason for that thickness, however, is down to the speakers hidden inside. Turn the TV on and the speakers will automatically descend from the TV, before sliding aside. B&O reckon this spacing gives them excellent stereo separation and the eight driver units (each with its own dedicated amplifier) seemed to pack a punch in my hands-on time. They certainly seemed better than most of the skinny speakers you can find in TVs, although you could opt for a considerably cheaper 4K TV and spend the rest of the cash on a really amazing 7.1 surround-sound system for truly immersive audio.

You'll find six HDMI ports (five of which support inputs from UHD sources), two USB ports (hook up an external hard drive to record TV shows), an Ethernet port for accessing Internet services, and five Power Link sockets, each with two channels for external speakers and sub-woofer. There's space too under the back panel for you to mount an Apple TV unit inside the body, to add services such as Netflix.

Motorised stand

While the TV's design may be fairly normal, the optional motorised stand goes some way to adding the kind of flair you expect from B&O. When the TV powers on, it moves around a large, circular base to move forward into the room. The idea is that it "takes centre stage when turned on", B&O CEO Tue Mantoni explained.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It means you can make the TV face you square-on wherever you decide to sit in your room. Moving from the sofa to the breakfast bar in your impossibly fancy open-plan house? Not a problem: the motors will make sure the picture and sound are pointed directly towards you. If, like me, you have a more modest flat and your TV has to stand flat against the wall, this really isn't a feature to get too excited about -- particularly given the £1,195 extra the motorised base will cost you.

There's a more standard base the TV can sit in, with no theatrical motors, which will set you back around £600.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

You control the TV using a long, slender remote control that has three buttons you can programme to quickly access pre-set channels or pre-set positions for the mechanical stand to take. It's machined from a single bar of metal, which makes it way more cool than all the other remotes in your house.

4K display

A luxury TV for the wealthy wouldn't be too impressive without the latest 4K technology on board. The Avant has a 3,840x2,160-pixel resolution -- a healthy boost over its existing Full HD 1,920x1,080-pixel BeoVision range. As well as a high resolution, B&O boasts that the screen has ambient light sensors that help it automatically compensate for your room's colour tones. An anti-reflective coating helps cut reflections by up to 98 percent.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

In my eyes-on time, I certainly found the screen to look extremely crisp, not to mention bright and bold. A fancy hotel ballroom isn't really the best place to pass judgement on changing colour tones, however, so I will have to leave final judgement on the quality of the display to CNET's full review.

Outlook

While the BeoVision Avant boasts a 4K resolution and some nifty motorised components, it demands a massive amount of money in return. And although the moving base may well prove useful -- and something of a party piece -- it's a pricey extra that probably won't suit most households. The Avant is really going to have provide superb picture quality if it hopes to justify the money.

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Where to Buy

Bang & Olufsen BeoVision Avant

Part Number: BEOVISIONAVANT

MSRP: $7,995.00

See manufacturer website for availability.