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BeoVision 9

Bang & Olufsen has integrated a hard disc recorder and multimedia capabilities into its latest 'picturesque' 50-inch plasma TV, the BeoVision 9.

Upside
It's hard to talk about any new Bang & Olufsen product without first covering its unique design, and the BeoVision 9 is certainly is no exception to company's ultra-stylish reputation. Designer David Lewis apparently drew inspiration for this television from seeing paintings waiting to be hung in an art gallery he visited. Indeed, with its silver frame tilted slightly backwards on its motorised floor stand, the BeoVision 9 more resembles a piece of art than any other television set you may have seen.

Inside the frame, a 50-inch plasma display occupies the top of the "painting", while the bottom third is devoted to sound -- specifically the integrated centre speaker, which in a surround sound system delivers dialogue. The speaker is spread horizontally and features an acoustic lens/tweeter centred just beneath the screen to provide greater clarity at high frequencies. To create a total surround sound experience, however, you will have to connect other Bang & Olufsen BeoLab speakers to the BeoVision 9.

The television features a new Automatic Picture Control technology that senses the light in the room and adjusts the picture to compensate for the conditions. Its dynamic contrast also monitors the content itself and enhances contrast in real time.

Like the LG 50PB2DR, the BeoVision 9 comes with a built-in 250 GB hard disc recorder, which can store up to 110 hours of your favourite shows. It also lets you pause a live transmission and restart where you left off, as well as schedule recordings.

As an optional extra, you can add a Bang &amp Olufsen BeoMedia 1 player, which provides an interface that lets you access stored photos and digital music through BeoVision 9. With its Internet access, BeoMedia also lets you surf the Net through the Beo4 remote control, access NetRadio (from a dedicated B&O portal) as well as transfer content from your PC.

Downside
The design is impeccable and the technology is good, but not exactly cutting edge. With a 1366 x 768 picture resolution, the television is HD-ready, yet it only comes with an analogue tuner. There is a slot for an HD tuner, but it will have to be added at a later date -- a bit disappointing for a AU$35,000 television. It's a good thing that B&O owners are not a price-sensitive lot.

And if you know Bang & Olufsen, you'll know that those Danes are mighty insular. The BeoVision 9 will only integrate with Bang & Olufsen speakers, remotes, and (through its BeoLink system) other B&O AV products. The company will tell you it's to maintain its high quality standards, but be aware that you won't be able to use this television with any other brand's AV gear that you might already have. If you do want to hook up something like a DVD player to the BeoVision 9, it would also logistically be a bit awkward given the unique design.

Outlook
It's a very expensive television, even for a 50-inch plasma, but the striking design combined with its recording and multimedia features will no doubt still attract the aspiring Bang & Olufsen crowd.

The BeoVision 9 is expected to be available in Q1 2007.

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