B&O BeoPlay V1 Review
If you lined up all of todays latest HDTVs, and included the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay V1 in the lineup, I would bet good money that the V1 would be the TV which standouts to everyone.
Every year, HDTV design seems to evolve in similar ways for every major HDTV manufacturer. We’re so used to seeing generic TVs which are constantly getting slimmer with skinny bezels and plastic bodies all looking the same. So when we first clapped eyes on the very individual and beautiful BeoPlay V1 we were very captivated.
If you think the V1 looks good in the photos, just wait till you see it in person, it really is that impressive. In the world of flyweight TVs where TVs are generally getting slimmer and lighter, the V1 is more of a heavyweight at a hefty 57.3 lbs / 26kg of solid steel.
The industrial and clean elegant design of the BeoPlay V1 was designed by Danish designer Anders Hermansen. He was apparently inspired by Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper, and designed a TV which makes use of just two single sheets of powder painted steel, pressed and folded together to form the body of the TV.
As mentioned earlier the V1 is pretty heavy, but feels incredibly solid and of a very high build quality. Looking at the TV from any angle is impressive. At the top and bottom of the V1 you can see how the two sheets of metal are folded and curved over joining together. These curves form loops (sockets) on all four corners, which are cleverly used in conjunction with the stainless steel frame and stand options.
This nicely leads us on to the mount options for the BeoPlay V1. Where as most TVs have two options, a wall mount connecting to the back to the HDTV, and a base stand connecting to the bottom for placing the HDTV on / in a multimedia cabinet, the V1 has four.
The V1 has been designed with flexibility of placement in mind, allowing you to best show off the beautiful looks of the set. The four mounts are; floor stand which angles the V1 backwards slightly for convenient viewing (the mount we be reviewing here), table stand, wall mount, and suspended.
All of the mounts ingeniously connect to the V1 via the four sockets, and of a high quality stainless steel. The stand came in a separate box, and consists of two solid stainless steel bars, with small rubber feet to stop it sliding around. The bars slide into the sockets at the top and the bottom, they slide in a good 12-inches or so, and fix in place with a loud solid click.
The stand is surprising solid and sturdy, especially considering the weight of the TV.
The metal cabinet of the BeoPlay V1 is unbroken with the exception of the stylish speaker grill holes, and a light sensor in the top middle (which we will go into detail later), and is available in two colors, white, and black. There are no buttons on the TV at all, and no way to turn on the TV without the remote.
The style of V1 can also be customized by changing the color of the material behind the speaker grill. The color option are: red, green, silver, black and yellow. You simply slide in the fabric sleeve behind the grill, which slides out the original. This small touch allows you to personalize the TV to your liking, or making better fit the room. As the TV is so new, there has been no word on prices. Silver is the default colour in both the black and white models.
Specifications / Features
The Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay V1 is available in two sizes, as the 40-Inch BeoPlay V1-40, and as the 32-Inch V1-32. We have the 40-Inch model here. Both make use of a 1080p / Full HD LCD panel with LED Edge lighting and 120Hz refresh rate.
We’re lead to believe that Bang & Olufsen have sourced their LCD panels from Samsung, no doubt taking the very best they can get their hands on. B&O say “We go to great lengths to improve the picture quality of the already excellent panel we buy from the best producers out there.” The picture optimization engine, VisionClear optimizes the image in conjunction with the built in light sensor and adaptive contrast technology to get the very best out of the panel and images.
While a light sensor isn’t exactly revolutionary, as my 4 year old Sony W3000 features this. Most HDTVs just use it to adjust the backlight levels, while the V1 also adjusts the colors and image quality along with the brightness.
From a high end company such as Bang & Olufsen, you can can expect amazing things when it comes to audio, and they certainly didn’t slack in that department. The BeoPlay makes use of Bang & Olufsen’s proprietary ICEPower amplifier technology, and powerful stereo speakers with Dolby Digital 5.1, and DTS 2.0. The 40-inch model I have here, also features an integrated subwoofer.
The V1 can be connected to your home network and the Internet via an Ethernet cable or via the built in WiFi. There is an external antenna that connects via a port, and can be hidden inside the back of the TV. DLNA is supported which allows you to easily stream content (videos, music, photos) on the V1 from a home computer, NAS, or even a smartphone or tablet computer.
Connectivity / Ports
All of the ports on the V1 are hidden behind a panel in the back. Simply remove this to access all of the ports, along with a storage area which contains 8 Velcro straps. These straps can be used to hide away the WiFi antenna, and also the AppleTV streaming box.
If you’re wondering how the AppleTV will work and receive the IR signals, B&O have you covered. They have included a PUC RJ45 to 2x IR flasher cable, which will repeat the singles received by the V1, and pass them along to the Apple TV or other devices. The included Beo4 remote control is already designed to work with the Apple TV, so you won’t need to use additional remotes when using the V1.
The BeoPlay V1 comes with a very healthy 5x HDMI inputs, all located in the back panel, along with three power link sockets for connection of external speakers and subwoofer to enable a 5.1 setup. There are also two PUC connections which allow for the V1 to operate up to four non Bang & Olufsen connected devices.
There is also a single USB 2.0 port which can be used to connect a USB thumb drive, or external USB drive to the V1 for multimedia playback. This is however tucked away behind the panel on the back of the TV, which isn’t exactly easily accessible. While other TVs often have this at the side for easy access.
If you’re looking for quick access we would recommend keeping a HDMI cable and USB extension into the back of the TV, or of course you could just use DLNA to stream your media wirelessly rather than using the USB.
The V1 comes with the Bang & Olufsen Beo4 remote control ($250). It’s made out of zinc and feels amazing to hold. It is fairly weighty, so much so it could probably be used as a weapon to keep people away from your beautiful HDTV. After using for the remote for some time, and then switching to a “standard” plastic remote, they feel extremely light and cheap. The Beo4 was fairly intuitive to use, features a display and a four way direction key which is used to navigate around the menus. It also works with the BeoLink system and all other B&O products dating back 20 years.
I must admit, at first I couldn’t find the power off button. It’s the small red dot button on the bottom right, which looks more like a typical record button. Pressing this turns the HDTV off with a nice curtain close effect on the screen.
I’ll start with the audio performance, as the very first thing I did after setting up the WiFi (apart from downloading the latest firmware) was to play music streamed from my Windows PC, and wow, I was honestly blown away.
I was expecting to hear good things, but this was beyond my expectations. I have always been an audio buff, and remember sitting for ages listening to the difference in audio quality you would get from a highend set. The V1′s audio was so crisp and rich, with such clarity along with deep bass. As I cranked the volume up expecting to hear it strain and lose quality…it didn’t. I must admit I spend a good amount of time just listening and enjoying the rich quality of the sound before I even go to the video side of things. I guess this is why Bang & Olufsen themselves say, “Actually we insist that TVs are just great speakers with a relatively large display!”.
The 40-Inch V1-40 audio is powered by two 2-Inch full-range treble/midrange drivers in a closed box cabinet of 0.15 liters, along with a dedicated 4-Inch center bass unit, in a closed box of 1.7 litres, and 3 32 watt Class D ICEpower amplifiers. The effect frequency range is 30 – 20,000 Hz. There are several pre-programmed audio modes, movie, drama, sports, music gaming. These are automatically detected and selected, for example movie will be used which watching a blu-ray, and music will be used when streaming music. These modes can be manually selected, and customized with a vast number of options.
The high quality, powerful audio was noticeably clear from the very first few seconds of one of our test blu-rays “Avatar”. The deep tones Sam Worthington’s narration were so clear and rich, and very un-forced. Through out the movie the audio very skipped a beat, even cranked up very high. The vocals were always clear and accurate, with the highs and lows reproduced extremely well, for example explosions sounded very deep and powerful, where shattering glass sounded high and crystal clear.
Bang & Olufsen say that the TV could easily be used to replace a high quality dedicated sound system, and after my time with the V1 I have to agree. It’s better than any sound system in my house by far.
As mentioned earlier, the BeoPlay V1 makes use of a 40-inch LCD panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and Edge type LED backlighting. The panel itself is anti-glare, which helps a lot to reduce annoying reflections on the screen.
The adaptive contrast uses the light sensor to adjust the brightness and colors for optimal performance in different lighting conditions. I’m not sure why B&O decided to go with Edge LED lighting, as this is normally used to reduce the thickness of the HDTV, which clearly isn’t of concern with the V1. Standard LED back lighting offers more control over the contrast and brightness than EDGE LED as different areas can be dimmed independently, where as edge is global.
The V1 is very well calibrated right out of the box, displaying very accurate colors and very good contrast. HD Picture quality is very impressive with stunning color reproduction, deep blacks and very good detailing with low motion blurring. Color gradation very good, with no sign of color banding.
The brightness and colors of the display were very uniform throughout all of our testing. It passed our sharpness and overscan test very well with perfect reproduction, and only a very slight over scan. Black and white clipping tests were very good, and vertical and horizontal resolution tests were passed perfectly.
Viewing angles are very wide, with colors looking saturated and vibrant throughout all angles. The blacks also remained unchanged, and we didn’t notice any uneven patches of light of cloudiness.
Along with changing from the default picture modes, you can also adjust the brightness, contrast and colors. In the advanced options there are image judder reduction, adaptive contrast / light sensor settings.
Under the judder options you can select from Adaptive, Full and Off. With this set to off, you can see the expected judder on the 24p blu-ray content on image pans. In the default “Adaptive” mode the BeoPlay V1 did an excellent job at eliminating the image judder, it also kept the image very sharp with very little motion blur or loss of resolution. I liked the look of the judder reduction effect, as it didn’t seem to introduce the dreaded “soap opera effect”. In “adaptive mode” the judder reduction effect is only applied to bright scenes and scenes with a lot of motion.
Although the BeoPlay V1 has a dedicated Gaming mode, which optimizes the performance and reduces the lag while gaming. The lag is still very much present. In normal “Adaptive” mode, the lag is very high at 267ms, while changing into the dedicated gaming mode reduces the lag to 167ms.
This lag is unusually high, as some HDTVs have lag around 20ms or so. As well as setting to the gaming mode, I also turned off all available image improvement options such as image rudder removal and even the light sensor, but 167ms was as fast as I could get it.
I’m sure B&O and most uses won’t be too concerned by this, as I’m sure their target market is less gamer, and more home theater enthusiast.
Media Center / PC Usage
The BeoPlay V1 works very well as a media center or connected to a PC. 1:1 pixel mapping is setup correctly out of the box, and I didn’t need to change any setting to achieve this. This was the case on all three pre configured picture modes.
Bang & Olufsen have created their sister brand, B&O Play, to attract new customers by offering a more attainable price point. While $4,000 for the 40-Inch model is certainly more budget friendly than sort of prices we are used to seeing from Bang & Olufsen, there is no escaping the fact that $4,000 is a lot to pay for a 40-Inch HDTV, where you could spend less on another brand and get a larger TV.
But, the B&O BeoPlay V1 is no standard HDTV. It is certainly a standout model in more ways than just its looks. Along with a very impressive and unique design it packs world class audio and video performance to match.
Its uncompromised audio performance really is in a league of its own, and with stellar visuals B&O Play really have produced a top notch HDTV.
Its only small let down is its input lag of 167ms for gaming. But I really don’t think that Bang & Olufsen are aiming the BeoPlay V1 at gamers, but rather the highend home theater enthusiast who wants the very best from their HDTV.
I feel the BeoPlay V1 is more of a purists HDTV, as it’s all about pure classic audio and video performance over more modern features such as 3D capability or “Smart” TV functions an app support (although it does feature DLNA streaming).
If you’re a self confessed home theater enthusiast who is looking for impressive video, and world class audio in one impressive looking package, I’m sure you will be more than happy with the B&O BeoPlay V1. I most certainly don’t want to give mine up.