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Product Review - Bang & Olufsen BeoVision Avant 32 DVD Home Cinema System - March, 2002

Andrew Jones


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Specifications:

BeoVision Avant 32" Widescreen (16x9)

DVDDVD-Video, Video CD, CD-A, CD-R, CD-RW

Dolby Digital, Dolby Surround Pro Logic

2x21-pin for AV and Decoder (AV includes S-Video In/Out), 3x RCA Jacks (Video In/Audio L-R In)S-Video (Y-C 4 Pin Socket)

TV Size (cm): 84 (W) x 110 (H) x 62 (D)

TV Weight:  86 kg

System Includes Two BeoLab 6000 Speakers, Two BeoLab 1 Speakers, One BeoLab 2 Subwoofer

MSRP:  £12,350 (incl. VAT); About $16,000 USA

 

Bang & Olufsen A/S, Peter Bangs VEJ 15, DK-7600 Struer, Denmark; Phone +45 96 84 11 22; Web: http://www.bang-olufsen.com 

Introduction

It was a bright and breezy morning in Manchester. As a matter of fact it was very bright indeed. All of a sudden, from out of the blue, appeared a monolith. It was mainly black and symmetrical in shape, I reached out with one hand to touch it. And then, it gave out the most amazing sound. Well, that was until the Bang & Olufsen Salesman turned the volume down on the remote control I was fumbling with . . . .

I guess itís no coincidence that Iíve always associated B&O equipment with futuristic art. Almost like something out of the late Stanley Kubrickís "2001 A Space Odyssey" epic. Their timeless designs and basic forms along with their shiny surfaces imply cleanliness and solid build quality. However, not being one to judge a book by its cover, I took it upon myself to review a current B&O Home Cinema system.

Product Evolution

From first impressions, it seems that the B&O Avant DVD Players, released last Christmas, are a direct descendant of the BeoVision AV series with the top loading disc drawer, used for playing compact discs.

Since the Avant seriesí introduction in 1995, when B&Oís partnership with Philips unfortunately gave birth to such problems as the ill-fitting ĎPaolinaí VTR unit, it seems that the ever stylish Avantís shell is way too cool for school!

You may notice that the propensity of inaccessible flat and shiny surfaces doesnít bode well for fitting additional components such as a video player and so on. Consequently, you should see the place where an external Satellite decoder is supposed to live. Well, it gets strapped to the back of the TV like a spare parachute, thatís where!. Not to be seen in public with the Avant I presume. An optional Set-Top Box controller must be purchased in this case.

Form & Function

Try to spot the curved surfaces on the Avant TV. Not many are there? Well, its base is circular, but I suppose thatís just so it looks cool whilst rotating 35 degrees left and right with the help of its motorized turntable. Then again, you would probably need this function to try and compensate for the screenís poor anti-reflection coating, by spinning the screen away from strong external light sources.

If I remember correctly, the old Toshiba Black-Line sets had a similar problem, where the actual tube face is set back some way from the front glass shielding.
What is quite unique with the Avant is the channel display perched on the top right of the screen, which notifies the user, along with the current viewing channel, other basic statistics like the AV input selected.

Overall, I rate the aesthetics of the set very highly, along with the magnificent surround sound speakers and subwoofer, since they all exude modern living style and a sense of luxury. Available in black, silver, red, green and blue, the Avant TV and its associated surround sound speakers will suit any contemporary interior design and reflect dust for years to come.

Usability

The first thing I had noticed when I grabbed hold of the Beo4 remote control was the protective cap on the end of it. Probably not to protect me from harmful infra-red rays, but actually as it happens, this cap was to prevent the whole shop from turning into Blackpool illuminations when you hit the power switch, as many devices will respond to this common function of the remote.

The protective cover over the end of the remote was intended to sharpen the IR beam produced by it, and limit the number of devices responding to what is directly visible in front of the user. I donít know if this ingenious device is supplied to the general public.

The strange piece of control engineering aside, the BeoVision Avant has an excellent set-up screen facility. Upon a press of the menu button on the remote, the frame of the film you are watching shrinks into the bottom right hand corner, whilst the relevant text appears on the other side. This worked very well. The on-screen functions are quite simple, clear, and steady, and to add to this, the teletext system has Wide Screen Signalling (WSS) and Fastext facilities.

 

Click HERE to go to Part 2 - Performance

 

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