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FlatpanelsHD made the trip to Bang & Olufsen’s home town of Struer in Jutland, Denmark. We were treated to an exclusive peek behind closed doors in B&O’s development area, and had a memorable encounter with B&O’s fantastic new 103-inch heavyweight – the BeoVision 4-103.
In addition to its huge dimensions, the TV also has the most advanced motor driven pedestal in the world. This article describes our meeting with the world's largest available flat screen – with a price tag of around 100.000 USD.
The BeoVision 4-103's 103 inches make it the largest flat screen marketed to consumers today. The dimensions are hard to come to terms with on paper, but when you see it in real life it will make your jaw drop. To bring some perspective to the table, the BV4-103 is larger than four 50 inch TVs put together.
Despite its dizzying proportions, the BeoVision 4-130 is as elegant as always. B&O has succeeded in maintaining the illusion of an elegant product which is in perfect harmony with the smaller BeoVision 4 members. The frame and pedestal are made of aluminium, in minimalist style.
The TV is large, and in order to give us a handle on it, B&O's product manager for video products, Ole Moltsen, promised to display the television for us and provide a tour of the facilities. We were lucky to catch the TV during a period when it was not out on one of its many foreign excursions – the colossus is well-travelled. Having just returned from Singapore, many more trips out into the wide world are planned.
When we had the opportunity to see the BeoVision 4-103, we found it to be completely unique, and had an unforgettable afternoon in Struer. The BeoVision 4-103 is not a TV you are likely to find in a neighbour's house – although it is already on its way into several Danish homes.
The world's most advanced pedestal
The BeoVision 4-103 is a quantum leap in the development of flat screens, and marks the dawning of a new era for Bang & Olufsen. The company has never had such an exclusive product before, and it is a manifestation of B&O's vision to transcend boundaries.
The unique achievement is not limited to the screen’s impressive 103 inches, because the automatic pedestal is even more impressive, if that were possible. It is a work of art in our age of electronics, and represented the greatest challenge in the development of the BeoVision 4-103, according to B&O. Although it is actually possible to wall-mount the giant, B&O demands that both options exist for their product.
We had first-hand experience of the advanced pedestal when the TV bloomed in front of us the first time. The pedestal can be raised, rotated and tilted to the perfect angle, with the click of a button, and we witnessed all of these actions once we were seated comfortably.
The TV rises slowly from its dormant position close to the floor, and a speaker slowly appears under its frame. The speaker then slides forward from its lair, until it is flush with the front of the screen. The BV4-103 then rotates into position, and finally tilts slightly forward to give the user the best viewing angle.
The entire procedure can be seen in the video below:
One could be forgiven for worrying that the BV4-103 might crush everything in its path as it later returns to its dormant state on the floor – but B&O have taken care of this also. Even small loads or objects which block the path of the TV will interrupt the pedestal, and the TV will return to its raised position.
Moving a colossus can be a clumsy business, but B&O have put a lot of effort into ensuring this is a positive experience for the user, and not a point of annoyance. During the 18 seconds it takes for the TV to awaken, the pedestal slowly commences on its path, accelerates to full speed, and then slows down again at the end. The result is a movement which is quiet and smooth, and sounds pleasant.
The components used in production have been chosen for their quality and reliability. For example, the actuators and tracks for raising, lowering and tilting the screen were tested to withstand 100,000 repetitions. Several approaches to dealing with the challenge of creating a stable pedestal were tested, but cylindrical pipes were chosen in the end, as pictured below.
We weren’t going to pass up the chance to spend a day with the BeoVision 4-103, so we came to B&O’s display room, where the BeoVision 4-103 was the centre of attention. The room was nicely furnished with a lounge and coffee table, and separated from the warehouse by a dividing wall, so it was easy to feel at home.
Ole Moltsen & BeoVision 4-103
Ole Moltsen from B&O introduced the product before he switched on the wonder child. When the colossus awoke from hibernation, we experienced first-hand how the motorised pedestal goes into action, and the speaker under the TV makes its entrance. It was elegant.
We had the opportunity to view various images on the screen, and this was an even greater pleasure. It is no secret that the BeoVision 4-103 uses the same video circuitry as some of B&O’s smaller televisions, but despite this fact, it becomes even more impressive when thrown up onto a 103-inch screen.
An Elton John concert was the first thing shown on the screen, and concerts are often slightly indistinct by nature. Concerts also provide many different light impressions from all angles, and a combination of rapid movements and quieter segments.
The BeoVision 4-103 handled the task as well as its smaller siblings in the B&O plasma division. The image quality was excellent, and the colours were very precise. The TV had good depth and dynamics, and was able to present excellent contrast. One got the impression that black was not 100% black, but this could be the result of the lighting used in the display room.
A variety of demonstration images were then displayed on the device, including a sequence showing a cute baby. I again had the impression of good picture quality, and an impressive degree of detail. It is well-known that the BeoVision 4-103 is based on Panasonic's 103-inch plasma TV panel, but has added a contrast screen with an anti-reflection coding. Despite this fact, there is a slight hint of reflection on the surface if light falls on the TV.
The VisionClear picture circuit on the back of BeoVision 4-103
One could be concerned that full HD signals and B&O’s video circuitry with VisionClear from the smaller members of the BeoVision 4 series might cramp the style of such a large TV, but I experienced the exact opposite. The television has an incredibly detailed picture, and full HD simply reveals its true face on the large screen. The picture quality was simply fantastic.
Picture and sound, working in harmony
Good picture quality falls flat if not accompanied by good sound quality. The BeoVision 4-103 therefore comes with an integrated surround-sound solution which makes it possible to connect up to 14 BeoLab speakers.
There was no shortage of speakers in B&O’s own BeoVision 4-103 wonderland. A number of BeoLab 5 speakers had been set up, providing fantastic sound. These are all controlled by the BeoVision 4-103, and when the television switches on, the sound gradually fades in, in step with the 18 seconds it takes to raise the pedestal and reveal the BeoLab 10 speaker at the base.
If you are on the lookout for a new TV, and actually considering the BeoVision 4-103, B&O also recommends supplementary speakers. As the company says itself, the BeoVision 4-103 is more an experience than a television. It aims to create something unique, and represent the finest in the area of picture and sound quality.
The biggest challenge is the installation
The challenge in getting the BeoVision 4-103 out to customers lies in the installation. B&O streamlines the process by taking care of installation in the home. This is naturally included in the dizzying price of around 100.000 USD, but the challenge is not so much the transportation, as the actual installation.
The BeoVision 4-103 dictates many conditions in the home, but it is amusing to note that many houses are actually built around the TV, and not vice-versa. The television has to be installed before the door frame is finally screwed into place, due to its extended width.
Alene kassen til BeoVision 4-103 fylder noget i landskabet
The screen also weighs in at around 250 kg, which means a small hoist is required to get the television in place.
B&O takes care of installation and connection. Customers can decide beforehand whether they want the motorised pedestal, or wish to wall-mount the television. Yes, the latter is possible, but you need something more solid than plasterboard.
Popular among sheiks
There had been some scepticism at B&O about producing such a large television. Jutland modesty was one factor, but the nature of the product and its price tag also led to much deliberation. But the decision was made to step out into a new world, breaking through the price ceiling, and transcending existing product boundaries in terms of scale.
While not revealing specifics about the customer group, B&O reports that nine out of ten BeoVision 4-103 customers are actually private individuals. Although the BeoVision 4-103 is popular among sheiks in the Middle East, it is also being sold to consumers in the USA, and even Denmark. Some Danes have already ordered the television.
B&O reports that there is actually brisk interest in the product, and since the first deliveries only began at the end of August, the order book is already looking quite full. FlatpanelsDK has no trouble believing this, because the BeoVision 4-103 really is unique in all its glory.
We have not seen its equal in the world of television during the time we have been active in the sector, and we would like to thank B&O and Product Manager Ole Moltsen for presenting the BeoVision 4-103 to us. It was really quite an experience.