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BEOCENTRE 1, £2850

Crazy! BeoCentre 1 could, indeed should have been so good but Bang & Olufsen has allowed style to ride roughshod over substance and it ends up as a very pretty and very expensive gimmick. The basic idea is fine, it's a classy DVD combi TV with a 29-inch screen and built-in tuner, mounted on a motorised stand, but by designing out the technology – all those tiresome and not very aesthetic knobs and buttons -- B&O has stripped the BeoCentre 1 of functionality and robbed the DVD player of many of the format's most useful and important features.

 

It's a great toy though, and the motorised stand is real crowd pleaser and it can be programmed to swivel to a pre-set position as soon as it's switched on. You wouldn't know the DVD player was there, the deck mechanism is cleverly integrated into the cabinet and all you ever see is a slender 'C' shaped disc holder that slides out from a narrow slit beneath the screen surround. There's no eject button (or any front panel controls for that matter) just a discrete metal strip under the screen bar that you touch lightly to load and unload discs.

 

BeoCentre 1 is superbly well built, you only have to pick the thing up to put it on to its pillar stand to realise that, it weighs a ton… The cabinet looks and feels like a craftsman made item and all of the panels and trim fit neatly. And it's not just the front that looks smart, this is one of the few TVs that look good from any angle, even from behind and the connecting leads – not that there's very many of them -- are tucked neatly out of sight behind a removable cover.

 

However, none of that makes up for the fact that the screen is the wrong shape for DVD, it's devoid of any external audio connections, so you are stuck with plain vanilla stereo sound, (possibly analogue Dolby Surround if you have an external decoder and hack into one of the two SCART sockets). The Teletext decoder is a non-Fastext type, B&O admit that it's a way to cut down the number of buttons on the remote, but the worst and most unforgivable crime of all is the complete lack of picture controls! No, that's not a mistake, BeoCentre 1 has brightness, contrast or colour adjustments whatsoever. It does have automatic adjustments that supposedly compensate for ambient room lighting but it was ineffective on our sample. The picture, whilst superbly sharp and detailed, most of the time was far too dark and contrasty, the colour saturation was too high for our liking, and just about everyone

who saw it.

 

The gloomy image is just about tolerable in well lit scenes but intentionally moody movies like Batman Returns and Angela's Ashes, for example, really suffer. Off air pictures are afflicted by the same lack of control and almost always ended up dark and oversaturated, nevertheless, clarity and detail are both very good and live broadcasts look very sharp indeed.

TV and DVD sound benefits from the good sized speakers beneath the screen
and, unusually for a set of TV speakers, they deliver a fair amount of bass,
unfortunately they're quite close together so the resulting stereo image is
rather narrow.

 

Since there are no on-board surround sound decoders blockbuster DVDs with loud and dynamic soundtracks -- that you know should be rattling the floorboards and have you diving for cover -- come across as almost completely flat and lifeless. The effects are there, you can hear them fluttering around in the background, and occasionally straining to get out of the right or left channel speaker, but the drama  and impact are lost. Unfortunately there's little or nothing you can do about it.

 

Verdict

It looks great and there are some excellent design touches, but in the end you're paying a great deal of money for a fairly ordinary 4:3 TV with no picture controls, poor connection flexibility and a DVD player with limited audio capabilities.

 

Bang & Olufsen, 0118 969 2288, www.bang-olufsen.com

 

Ratings

Overall              3

Picture Quality            3

Sound Quality            4

Features                       2

Ease of Use                  3

Build Quality                  5

Value for Money            2

 

Pros

Styling and that wonderful motorised stand

 

Cons

No picture adjustments, limited DVD audio options, price

 

Rival Buys

Grundig Status MFW82-720/9 DVD £tba

Almost any top-notch widescreen TV and DVD player £1800 or less

 

Quote

'B&O has stripped the BeoCentre 1 of functionality and robbed the DVD player of many of the format's most useful and important features'.

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2001, 1201

 

 

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