Bang & Olufsen has launched their latest luxury TV into Australia but the most exciting thing about it might be what it inspires in the competition.
Right up front, the BeoVision Harmony isn't a product for the everyday consumer. Priced at AU$33,000K, it's a product of two parts. The first of these is the display panel. Bang and Olufsen have basically outsourced the "TV" part of the Harmony to LG.
B&O told us that the 4K OLED display panel here is a close equivalent to LG's C9, which we rate pretty highly. Seen in action at the local launch event for the Harmony, it looked just as colorful and detailed as we remembered - though glare remained a minor issue. I wouldn't say it looked all that different, better or worse than the C9 does but, then again, that's a pretty place to start. The BeoVision Harmony supports both HDR and Dolby Vision.
In line with LG's OLEDs, the Harmony also runs on LG's WebOS smart TV software interface. However, as an important difference, it doesn't ship with LG's Wii-Remote inspired Magic Remote. Instead, customers get a sleeker, more conventional B&O-branded remote.
The company say that “a benefit of our relationship with LG is that we will be able to leverage the latest technology as soon as it develops."
"As they innovate, so too do we, and we incorporate these developments into our original concept to deliver a sophisticated, stylish and high performance product that fits into the B&O product suite. We expect the Beovision Harmony to evolve over the years and to offer customers a great OLED TV Experience."
Of course, when it comes to looking good, there's more to talk about than just the display here. The other half of the equation is the design of the Harmony. When dormant, there are two blind-like speaker panels which conceal the center of the third of the screen. When you turn it on, the Harmony rises upwards and these speaker panels rotate to form something akin to a soundbar.
And, in addition to sounding really impressive afterwards, this act of metamorphosis actively works to distinguish the Harmony from even other ultra-premium TVs. If you're spending that much on a TV, you're probably better off investing in something that's different and boutique than something that looks prettier.
Picture quality is only going to get better but the unique design you get with the Harmony is probably still going to feel pretty special and charming in a few years time. It's more expensive than almost everything out there but it's also noticeably different to everything else out there.
In fact, the more time I spend thinking about it, the more I hope that the future of TVs ends up looking something like the Harmony.
Recent years have seen TV manufacturers not just emphasize improved picture quality year-on-year but also play into the idea of a lifestyle TV. The screens on which we watch content are getting bigger and bigger but nobody is thrilled by the idea of giant black rectangle taking up a entire wall in their house. It's this dynamic that's driven demand for products like Samsung's Frame and Serif TVs.
While the rarity and sheer wackiness of the Harmony's butterfly-like design lends it an unreal dreamlike quality in action, you have to wonder when reality will weigh in. For now, this kind of TV experience isn't something that ordinary customers can afford or would be willing to pay for.
But as companies like TCL, Samsung and Hisense embrace more and more designs like the one that sets the Harmony apart from the crowd, you have to wonder how long that'll last.
The Beovision Harmony is available in Australia exclusively through Bang & Olufsen for a price-tag of AU$33,000 for the Timber model. There's also a "cheaper" Fabric-based version of the Harmony available for AU$31,500.