It might be better known for its good-looking loudspeakers, yet Bang & Olufsen (B&O) are historically no slouches when it comes to creating beautiful television sets. The BeoVision 14 – the company’s second 4K TV — continues this trend with a luxe wood and aluminium unit set in the mould of its all-in-one BeoVision 11 display.
Long-time collaborators David Lewis Designers have again taken a central role in establishing the look and feel of the product, which offers a deceptively wide 16:9 aspect ratio despite the almost-square appearance of the overall unit. The slatted wooden lamellas on the speaker cover – measuring between 3mm and 6mm – are specifically engineered with irregular undulations to ensure that sound waves emanate more naturally from the unit.
The BeoVision 14 is currently only available in either oak or a cloth covering in the UK at present, although both smoked oak and walnut finishes will be released in the coming months. These coverings are magnetic, which means that, if the unit is moved into another part of the house, it can easily be switched out and replaced with another cover that better suits the room’s décor.
Complementing the BeoVision 14’s UHD-quality LED-LCD screen is anti-reflection glass, which works well to reduce light glare on the screen and improve off-angle viewing from both sides. Another particularly neat feature is a 360° automated sensor: this determines the exact ambient lighting conditions in the room and adjusts the display’s settings to create the best possible image for the specific environment.
Like its predecessor, it comes in two sizes – 40” and 55” – and shares a similar physical footprint. When wall-mounted, both screens can swing out up to 90°, while both motorised and easel options are available for floor- and table-mounted stands.
A view for a room
On the 44” screen reviewed by Connected Lifestyle, 4K content comes off beautifully from a USB source and streamed content, with excellent contrast and sharp rendering of fine details, particularly so within the recommended viewing distance of 3m (for the 55” screen, it is 3.5m). Curiously, it offers no support for high dynamic range (HDR) content, which feels like an oversight considering that this is the direction that most of B&O’s competitors are headed in. That said, it does support high efficiency video coding (HEVC), which improves 4K streaming performance from online sources.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a business with an excellent track record for loudspeakers, the built-in audio is clean and clear and remains consistent even at high volumes. As a stand-alone system the sound is nicely balanced, although the addition of two BeoLab speakers vastly expands the delivery to create a more encompassing sensation. These can be linked up wirelessly, which saves on the amount of cabling that needs to be concealed when installing it as part of a home entertainment set-up.
A maximum of eight wireless and eight wired speakers can be integrated with the BeoVision 14: along with an embedded 7.1 surround-sound module, this enables immersive audio configurations to be implemented.
Regardless of the set-up chosen, sound output can be tailored with nine distinct sound modes, allowing the viewer to quickly adjust the television to match a number of activities, such as volume suppression for late night listening or boosting bass on film nights. A number of image options, including optimised image response for gaming, are also available to give the screen the flexibility to suit several potential uses.
Inspecting the innards
The BeoVision 14 is the first Bang & Olufsen television to be based on the Android TV platform, which gives it a number of interesting features in the box. Netflix and YouTube are integrated into the system – providing two convenient (and growing) sources of 4K content for owners to explore – as well as Google Cast functionality, which allows a user to send content to it from a smartphone or tablet.
As with other B&O systems, the BeoVision 14 can be controlled directly from the company’s BeoRemote One. As well as managing all of its video and audio portfolio, this can be configured to work with certain third party smart home systems, including Lutron and Crestron.
The remote’s functionality is reasonably impressive – one-click scene setting is a particularly neat element – while its sleek design more than matches the elegance of the television set itself. Made from a complete piece of extruded aluminium, the BeoRemote One is comfortably weighty in the hand, a wonderful contrast of gleaming metal and slightly retro Scandinavian-style buttons.
All of this adds up to a device that wants to be more than just a television. Bang & Olufsen sees this as a focal point for a household’s home entertainment: as well as YouTube integration, the BeoVision 14 can be hooked up to a Spotify or Deezer account and even act as a hi-fi when not being used as a television.
There are many excellent 4K television sets out there, many of them with good quality audio built directly into the unit. In terms of aesthetic, the BeoVision stands out as a product with an exceptional devotion to quality. Its looks alone are almost – but not quite – enough to forgive its lack of support for HDR content.