From the very beginning in 1952, Bang & Olufsen’s approach to television – or Beovision – has been about more than mere picture quality performance. It has also included sound quality, craftsmanship, user interaction and placement flexibility - all elements that have played a significant role in all TV concepts. To provide the best solution, understanding how we are living with any kind of technology has been the starting point. From the first TV in 1952 the 508S, the so-called wheelbarrow, the use of exquisite materials, impressive sound performance and a pair of simple handles allowing you to conveniently move the TV into the room for all to see, paved the way for Beovision TV solutions that came after it.
The first TV from Bang & Olufsen was unique in its picture quality and sound performance and was nicknamed the ‘Wheelbarrow’ because the unit was equipped with wheels at the back and a couple of extendable handles at the front. By tilting the TV backwards, the fairly heavy unit could be moved easily. It was actually a relevant feature in those days, as the TVs were extremely heavy and there were not many programmes transmitted every day, so typically when a show was on, the entire neighbourhood stopped by to watch, and you could roll it into the room for everyone to see. And when the show was over you could roll it out again.
TVs originally started out as the new focal point in the room, previously this was the fireplace, but in the 60s, when TVs were made available to the younger generations, new materials and colours, portability and movability, one touch operation, remote control made a Bang & Olufsen Beovision unique in the market. Technology was a given, as the highest possible standards for picture and sound quality were the goal.
The significance of TV technology in the early days also affected the visual design. Most of the early models were big impressive pieces of furniture – a true show piece in the living room, some were huge pieces of furniture with integrated radio and speakers. But over time it also became a household item, which attracted a younger generation. However, they were not looking for impressive furniture and this was reflected in the TV designs of the late 50s and 60s.
The introduction of Capri underlined that the television had become something which everybody had. It was a smaller television with an elegant design at a reasonable price. It was compact and could be placed on a table or shelf.
In front of the picture tube was a grey toned glass screen. It had two purposes. One was protection of the picture tube, and the other was to increase the picture quality. The grey tone meant an increase in the contrast ratio, i.e. increase the distance between black and white. The glass screen was called a ‘spectral filter’.
A small detail with great effect was that the glass screen was slightly curved so reflections from the room was minimised. This was the first attempt to introduce a concept that was later a central part of all Bang & Olufsen TVs, namely the anti-reflection coated contrast screen.
When the Capri TV was introduced, it also became apparent that Bang & Olufsen had to move in a direction where design, as a craft, was to be taken more seriously. A long and unpleasant comment from one of the most respected commentators and architects in Denmark, Poul Henningsen, contained words such as “… has this thing been designed by fishmongers or potato wholesalers with nothing better to do in their spare time?” PH, as he was called, made it clear to the Bang & Olufsen management that something needed to be done.
Architect Ib Fabiansen was hired to make sure the design of the Bang & Olufsen product range matched the outstanding technology inside.
Ib Fabiansen introduced the concept of ‘modular furniture’ (1959); the idea of systems in whole and half modules. The customer could combine uniform box units as they required. In this way you had a harmonic furnishing that matched the other interior décor you had in the room. You could combine the following products: radio, television, gramophone, tape recorder, loudspeakers and three different sizes of tables. With this change he was also aware that different customer groups were looking for different solutions. Some were longing for exquisite wood and dark colours, others were looking for light and colourful expressions and Ib Fabiansen introduced a variety of new materials, new types of wood combined it with new metals and colours.
Bang & Olufsen had many ‘firsts’ in the Beovision category. For example, Beovision Horisont was the first portable TV .
A moveable TV with a protective cover in front of the picture tube. The concept responded to a change in lifestyle where the television no longer had to be placed centrally in the living room. Especially the younger group of customers were asking for a more flexible solution. Furthermore, the design also allowed you to take the television with you to the summer house.
Another big step for Bang & Olufsen was the introduction of colour TV. It was quite a tough birth as there were no colour TV transmission in Denmark at the time. The first tests pictures in colour were transmitted from Hamburg only, and this meant that Bang & Olufsen setup a colour TV test lab with three engineers at an inn North of Hamburg to be able to test their progress. A lot of doubt as to the commercial success of colour TV made it a tough sale for the engineers at Bang & Olufsen to convince the management it was a good idea.
In the mid-1970s colour TV had penetrated the market and for many the home interior was white. Now TV had to fit in with fashion, and the first white Beovision 3500 was introduced. It was elegant, the cabinet was made out of plastic, and with two options; a trumpet stand and a wheel stand. It differentiated significantly from the TVs in the market and was Bang & Olufsen’s first fully transistorised TV. The selection of TV channels was increasing significantly, and this led to a new approach in the operation. Primary and secondary operation was introduced, where less used settings were concealed behind a panel which you could open up when needed, whereas the selection of TV channels, which you needed every day, was one touch selection and directly available.
1975 was the year of the first TV with remote control – Beovision 6000 Commander – select a TV programme from the five presets or turn up and down volume and brightness.
Although Bang & Olufsen did not develop all components for the TVs, the company was known for refinement of the entire experience, applying new technology in new and innovative ways. At the time, Bang & Olufsen was far too small to be able to develop basic technology, but engineers from Bang & Olufsen were highly respected in the industry and often helped improve some of the most important components – such as picture tubes from Philips where Bang & Olufsen had a production line of its own. Over time Bang & Olufsen entered into many strategic partnerships and this approach has continued up to today. It is still a strategy that works and allows a relatively small player to excel in this industry that has cost so many companies their lives.
It was not merely technology but also focus on the user situation that set Bang & Olufsen TVs apart from other manufacturers. In the early 1980s a group of engineers developed an integrated, mechanical turning function that gave the user many new placement options and also the freedom to move the TV screen away from disturbing reflections when watching TV. This was a unique Bang & Olufsen feature.
Other differentiation characteristics of Beovision in the 1980s were system integration and a unique IR-based remote control, operating both audio and video and which had an almost iconic status. The philosophy of having technology serve man rather than the other way round was a dominant factor and has been so to this day.
Bang & Olufsen has always maintained a tradition for collaboration between the various development departments and technology areas. These links have led to the integration of sound and picture, which remains one of the characteristics of Bang & Olufsen. Beolink 1000 from 1984 was the first remote control unit which served both audio and video, from the main and secondary rooms, thanks to the Beolink system. The Bang & Olufsen Beovision LX series with integrated stereo speakers placed to the left and right of the screen was extremely popular, taking over as the state-of-the art TV in the early 80s. Until a new ground-breaking idea was born; the so-called monitor-look.
One of the most influential TV designs ever dates back to 1985. Designed by David Lewis, a Beovision MX 2000 was not only the progenitor of a number of TV models from Bang & Olufsen during the following years, but also a source of inspiration for many competing manufacturers. When switched on, the design emphasised the picture, almost making the cabinet disappear. Switched off, the TV became a sculpture in its own right.
The Beovision MX series had the loudspeakers placed below the screen, something which no one else had ever done, and something which most others questioned. However, with Bang & Olufsen’s knowhow in speaker technology and sound tuning, placing the speakers below the screen was not a compromise.
Beovision MX 7000 had built-in active speakers with an even higher quality sound performance and additionally an automatic turning function, which allowed the TV to turn towards the viewer. The slim and elegant monitor look made the TV seem smaller and less intrusive and provided new placement options; even in the middle of the room casually leaning back. MX models were available in a variety of colours right from the beginning.
The monitor-look differentiated Bang & Olufsen from other manufacturers and even earlier Bang & Olufsen TVs in such a way that it also appealed to a new target group. Customers who did not see the TV as the focal point of the room, and who were looking for quality, but not the same TV as previous generations.
When home cinema started to appear in people's homes in the US, a Bang & Olufsen concept group was sent on inspirational trips that started with a visit to home cinema enthusiasts in New York. They continued to the Dolby Laboratories, the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, Lukas Films, Universal Studios and the Epcot Center. The goal was to truly understand the nature of home cinema and the possibilities within both sound and picture to make this into a unique conceptual idea for customers.
The result was the highly praised Beosystem AV 9000 launched in 1992, along with the introduction of the first truly active loudspeakers, Beolab 8000 and Beolab 6000. With this concept Bang & Olufsen was the first to make a fully integrated surround sound system for the home. The challenge was to make things as simple for the customer as possible.
The TV had ‘curtains’, opening up the viewing experience, an integrated video recorder, a built-in centre channel speaker with a surround sound module. The option of connecting extra speakers gave you the possibility to make a fully integrated home cinema experience at home – all controlled by the impressive Master Control Panel.
Since then, Bang & Olufsen has adjusted and developed the surround sound experience to match the technological possibilities that have emerged.
With bulky and heavy TVs that were taking up much space, the notion of having TV as a picture on the wall was much in demand but not an easy task. However, when designer David Lewis introduced the Beovision Avant concept in 1995, it came one step closer. Beovision Avant was the first wide screen TV in the 16:9 format. The picture tube, active speakers and video recorder were all integrated in a wooden wall that was placed on a turning stand. This created a visual illusion of a flat screen - completely concealing the depth of the picture tube, and offering full control from your favourite armchair with your remote control. An extremely popular high-end TV solution which was updated with a DVD player when that technology superseded the video tape format.
New display technology emerged in the late 90ies and made the flat screen TV a real option, as well as challenging convention. However, the screen technology was not mature and could not match the well- known picture tube technology at the beginning.
In 2003 Bang & Olufsen decided to go into the flat screen market using the new flat screen technology with Beovision 5. It was a high-end, all-in-one plasma TV integrating surround sound and centre speakers, casually leaning back on a motorised floor or easel stand, and with the option of wall mounting for a true flat screen solution.
The idea for the Beovision 5 design was born when designer David Lewis was passing by an art gallery – where pictures were casually leaning against the wall in preparation for an exhibition. The idea of framing the TV as a picture and leaning it casually backwards appealed to him. It gave the TV a presence that the placement of a screen on the wall could not. And it differentiated Beovision 5 from all other TV solutions in the market at this point. Being able to turn the TV towards the viewer was another unique Bang & Olufsen feature that could be included in the solution.
Once the transition to flat screen had started there was no going back. Bang & Olufsen continued to work on flat screen TVs based on both LCD technology and Plasma technology. New panel technology was constantly introduced, screens were replaced and, with its extensive knowledge in TV technology which Bang & Olufsen had accumulated since the introduction of the first TV in 1952, that made the Bang & Olufsen offer stand out in the industry.
Among those ‘stand outs’ was Beovision 7; the first LCD TV with integrated DVD, later upgraded with Blu-ray player, and optional centre channel or stereo sound bars providing adaptive sound technology. This technology would allow you to up and downmix the sound performance to match the number of connected speakers and create different sound stages for the viewer to choose from. Beovision 7 offered placement on the floor or on the wall with or without motorised movement and was available in different sizes.
The centre of focus was the viewer; any technology that improved performance to the benefit of the viewing experience was looked into. It was the antireflection coated contrast screen that improved the contrast and reduced the reflections from windows: It was picture performance technologies that improved the shortcomings of either broadcasts or the storage media, and it was sound performance. The goal was to get the right balance between the applied technologies and provide the customer with as many options and choices to match their lifestyle and taste.
As the visual concept of Bang & Olufsen’s first flat screen TV, Beovision 5 was extremely popular. The concept was innovated with the appearance of Beovision 10 (2009) - the all-in-one framed LCD TV.
The Beovision 10 conceptual idea was continued in Beovision 11 (2015) and Beovision 14 (2017), Beovision Contour (2020) which extended and provided a vast number of integrated features that were meant to satisfy all members of a family. Fantastic picture and sound performance all nicely wrapped in an elegant design which, with alterations in small details, was able to stand out or fit it as you prefer. Easy access to internet-based content, films, apps, social media etc. An extensive connection panel that ensured control of a multitude of other devices and home automation systems; still all controlled via your Bang & Olufsen remote control.
A super slim and elegant high-gloss polished aluminium frame and the large glass surface that sits flush against the screen combined with the warm coloured fabric or wooden front made this conceptual idea, packed with elegant details that took a true craftsman to accomplish. Integrated was a high-performance loudspeaker system, a surround sound processor and the possibility to connect almost as many speakers as you could possibly want.
The sound and sound effects have become an increasing part of the movie experience, and the importance of this was reflected in all Bang & Olufsen TV solutions from the beginning. With an integrated surround sound module, you had the possibility to connect extra speakers and subwoofer. This enabled you to direct sound and sound effects to a specific position where it makes most sense for the viewer.
If you are watching a news broadcast, the most logical place to have sound is as close to the person on the screen as possible. If you are watching an air show, some of the aeroplanes may fly over your head, and to achieve this experience you move sound from front to rear speakers or vice versa. If you are watching a movie, special effects such as doors slamming, or extreme car sounds, may need that bit of extra movement of air, which your subwoofer is the most capable speaker to handle. The sound is directed to the best speaker to achieve the right sensation. The recording engineer designs the sound so the sound can be directed to the different places, the Bang & Olufsen integrated surround sound module takes care this happens.
The dream of hiding away your TV when it is not in use is always there, and with Beovision Avant New Generation the TV was aiming at reducing its visual presence even more than previous TVs. It took the original concept of Beovision Avant of domesticating advanced technology in a new way. It took you on a carefully choreographed experience revealing the speakers and moving and turning the TV to your desired position for watching. Carefully concealing it again when switched off, leaving only the impression of a screen – the epitome of discretion. All movements were carefully choreographed to one another – from the electronic curtains, the turning of the screen and the unfolding of the speakers – all perfectly matched to when they stop, the TV is ready to perform.
Beovision Avant NG has taken a lot of its mechanical ingenuity from the past and combined it with state-of-the art technologies of today – truly a new generation. Learnings as far back as Beosound Ouverture that had moving glass doors that had a choreographed opening as your hand approached, were brought into play; albeit with the extensive knowledge that has been added in the mechanical division since that time. Movement has to be carefully controlled; not too fast, and not too slow. Timing is essential, so when everything stops, you are ready to watch and listen.
An ‘essential TV’ solution was the brief for Beovision Horizon in 2017. A TV that provided an uncomplicated TV solution with a Bang & Olufsen touch. It was designed not to be a central focus point or a status symbol but something that was convenient, functional and fitted in anywhere.
Great picture and sound performance is a must as it is with any Beovision. Functionalism is underlined, and design is a classic Bang & Olufsen in an unobtrusive and discrete way. An architectural and unobtrusive TV design wrapped in a black, matt anodized frame with a lamella front below the UHD LCD screen, the design of Beovision Horizon can be defined as both refined and relaxed.
The outer frame with a 90-degree angle, so it seemed to disappear when seen from the front, but gave perspective and depth to the screen from the side framing the entire TV solution. Almost like puppetry - you are drawn into the frame and into the experience.
The design signals an all-in-one solution, discretely broken up by the aluminium lamellas that almost hover in the air below the screen, covering the integrated loudspeaker system. The lamellas in front of the speakers were conical and slightly angled to provide the best possible acoustic performance, and the fabric behind them a backdrop that disappears the lamellas stand out from it. The lamellas made in forged iron grey to create a liveliness against the black fabric backdrop made it stand out in a very subtle way.
With four different placement option – all with manual turn or tilt, you still had extensive placement freedom – however making sure the Beovision no longer has to dominate your lifestyle – it is easy to install, and it can be there or moved away as you like …a red thread back to the first ever ‘wheelbarrow’ television from Bang & Olufsen.
Over the years screen technology has rapidly evolved, constantly challenging the status quo in an attempt to get as close to reality as possible. With OLED technology from LG, Bang & Olufsen made another strategic partnership that took the Bang & Olufsen customer closer this goal.
The name Beovision Eclipse was chosen for its symbolic meaning; Two celestial objects, each amazing in their own right – the sun and the moon – coming together to create something spectacular. Defined by sensational OLED technology (LG) meeting outstanding sound performance and design (Bang & Olufsen) in one exceptional coherent solution. Beovision Eclipse excels beyond comparison in picture quality through the OLED 4K screen. Only LG OLED TV delivers what is referred to as ‘Perfect Black’ and infinite contrast by turning on and off the individual pixels independently. As such, OLED represents the pinnacle display technology for HDR (High Dynamic Range) content.
In the SoundCenter you get the best integrated sound performance in the market and a full-fledged audio centre with amazing performance,
The aluminium SoundCenter cuts through a glass plate with the glass surface continuing below. A visual touch that allows the two elements to come together as one coherent solution. The fact that the SoundCenter expands beyond the screen, to both sides, underlines the importance we have put on the sound performance of this TV.
Combining different surfaces and materials – glass and aluminium - takes a great deal of attention to detail. The screen is completely enveloped in sound both front and rear, creating both contrast and a statement design.
Beovision Eclipse can be anything you want. The centre of a home cinema experience, used for daytime news at the dining table, background music machine or the family gaming centre, or your perfect audio system - you decide – it is all part of the total solution. It unfolds technology options when you need them and packs them away when you do not.
If you are looking for tailor-made experiences, Beovision Eclipse has a solution for that too. It could not be easier. Elegantly expressed in a remote control that follows operating principles applied by Bang & Olufsen for many years, it is limited what you have to learn. In addition, you get operating principles which have been aligned across sources, so you use the same buttons regardless of which source you are operating. Logical button layout and one hand operation makes you almost forget you are holding it in your hand. The ‘unibody’ aluminium housing is cool and comfortable to hold with no visible screws, joints or sharp edges.
Make a snap-shot and save the moment, with a 3 second push on one of the MyButtons and store access to the source. Get back to it with only one push on that button. With Beovision Eclipse and Beoremote One, one-touch operation becomes a convenient short-cut to action.