55 inch B&O TV a snip at $18,700

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Apple will no doubt be reaching for its lawyers as upstart Danish purveyor of overpriced, aspirational gadgets Bang & Olufsen beats them at their own game by launching a 55 inch LCD TV priced at a tad under twenty thousand bucks.

The flagship BeoVision 7 was previously only available at a parsimonious 40 inches in North America, but now features 'the sophisticated Bang & Olufsen BeoSystem 3 video engine', which apparently delivers superior signal processing due to the VisionClear package of picture improvement technologies.

Double frame rate technology, also known as 120 Hz, with motion compensation and progressive scanning backlight significantly reduces the inherent blur typical of LCD screens, we are assured.

The BeoVision 7-55 is based on a new direct-type LED-backlight with local dimming for greater contrast. The TV contains state-of-the-art features ensuring a smooth picture performance, a sophisticated digital surround sound module, and is one of the few flat screen televisions on the market to include an integrated Blu-ray player.

We have a number of LCD displays with the local dimming feature, but had always put this down to stuck pixels. Still, who's to argue with creative marketing, eh?

altA glance at the aspirational images on B&O's site (left) shows the magnificent TV in a typical domestic setting - a huge empty room containing no furniture and a blurred imaginary girlfriend.

Presumably there's no furniture because the owner of the new TV can't afford any, or his previous imaginary wife has grabbed the lot in the divorce settlement.

The complete absence of power, antenna and signal cables is sadly not explained in the adjective-rich technical description of the device.

The BeoVision 7-55 is designed for floor placement, in order to 'offer extensive flexibility for the viewer's seating preferences' - on the floor, presumably until they've saved up for a new sofa - and comes with a motorized stand offering preset viewing positions so the television and center loudspeaker not only turn, but also tilt the screen to face the viewer, giving the full picture and sound experience from any position in the room. Everything is controlled by one-touch operation from a Bang & Olufsen remote control, presumably operated by the owner's butler.

"BeoVision 7-55 is the cornerstone in the intelligent home as it is a fantastic hub for combining audio and video experiences with other home automation systems," says Zean Nielsen, President of Bang & Olufsen America. "For many customers, home automation is becoming more and more interesting, and due to increasingly sophisticated interfaces, Bang & Olufsen customers can actually control and operate all their A/V and home automation equipment from the programmable Beo5 remote control all over the house."

Nielsen fails to point out that owners of the new mega TV will still have to watch the same old crap as the rest of us with ten year old $49.99 sets with a bent coathanger stuck on top as an antenna.

It's also loud. The matching stereo loudspeaker BeoLab 7-6 contains 6 x 125 power amplifiers in a three-way bass reflex speaker system. The loudspeaker is equipped with thermal protection circuits and Adaptive Bass Linearization (ABL), which ensures that the loudspeaker can perform without distortion even at a very high volume.

It's the only way to watch Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

And should one seek a tailor-made surround sound setup, the dedicated center channel speaker, BeoLab 7-4, based on the Bang & Olufsen Acoustic Lens Technology, is the perfect solution, it says here.

The BeoVision 7-55 inch will be available in all Bang & Olufsen retail locations by mid to late November 2009. MSRP $18,700 includes floor stand and center speaker.

While applauding B&O's bravery in launching such a premium-priced consumer luxury product in the depths of a global recession, we can only regret our own tragic lack of foresight in not setting up our own company dedicated to badge-engineering off-the shelf Philips electronics and sticking them in a fancy case at a 1,000 percent markup.