BeoVision 5

(2002-2006) 42” widescreen plasma television, Powerlink, Masterlink

Type numbers: 8488, 8489, 8900, 8901, 8902, 8903, 8904, 8905, 8906, 8907, 8908, 8909, 8910, 8911, 8912, 8913, 8914, 8915, 8916, 8917, 8918, 8919, 8939, 8940, 8941, 8942, 8943, 8944, 8945, 8946, 8947, 8948, 8949


Picture by Peter McEvedy


The BeoVision 5 was B&O’s first television to use a plasma display panel. B&O had for many years maintained themselves at the forefront of the drive to produce slim, elegant TV sets. From their pioneering use of a 110 degree tube in the Beovision 3400 to the beautiful lines of the Beovision LX series, B&O was the first name that came to mind when thinner than normal TV sets were under discussion, so it was only a matter of time before a plasma screen model was introduced. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

B&O’s problem was to produce a visually distinctive set that still took advantage of the styling possibilities that the plasma display offered. The natural style for a flat panel TV set was similar to the front of a Beovision LX, all screen with slim loudspeakers down each side. The problem was that almost every manufacturer offered a plasma set like this, giving B&O the problem of how differentiate their plasma TV. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The answer came in the shape of the BeoVision 5. Balancing the visual impact of the screen with an equal sized loudspeaker grille beneath and framing these two elements in aluminium instantly produced a distinctive design that gave the impression of being out of the ordinary, distinctive, but not too flashy. The dome-shaped infra-red receiver of the AV 9000 monitor made a re-appearance at the top right of the frame, an amusing detail that finished the design off nicely. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Although it was original, one could hardly call the BeoVision 5’s cabinet design a masterpiece of functionality. A frontal area to screen area ratio of worse than 2:1 is not very clever in any terms and the design left no space for auxiliary video sources (VTR, DVD, digital TV receiver) other than in an optional cabinet that left the extra equipment in a vulnerable position close to the floor. Perhaps these shortcomings would have been understandable if the loudspeaker grille concealed large numbers of drive units but it did not, two stereo loudspeaker units similar to those found in the BeoVision Avant were fitted at the sides in addition to a small centre channel unit was all you got, despite what appearances suggested. This was still better than what a traditional flat panel TV set could offer, fitting decent quality loudspeakers into such sets was technically a challenge, which is why other manufacturers normally chose simply not to bother and to fit small, tinny units instead. The BeoVision 5 was presented at its best on an optional floor standing rotating base, though the equipment cabinet and a wall bracket were offered as other choices. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

One may wonder how a comparatively small company like B&O managed to produce a new and complex product like a plasma television so quickly. The answer was that they didn’t, the screen and the systems that operated it were supplied by Panasonic as a packaged product. The screen, which was in fact a complete plasma display monitor complete with cabinet work and controls, was mounted in B&O’s cabinet in much the same manner as one would hang such a monitor on a wall. Signals came from B&O’s own receiving circuits, which worked along similar lines to those of the BeoVision Avant. Although giving the impression of a hastily cobbled together botch-up, this method of construction did at least give B&O the chance to specify better grades of plasma display as the rapidly advancing production methods of the time made them available. The final versions of the BeoVision 5 were thus made HD compatible, though it was not economic to add this feature to the earlier models. Panasonic was not a new supplier to B&O, though the plasma monitor was the largest and most significant assembly that they had supplied to date. Previously they had supplied the motors for practically every cassette recorder from the Beocord 900 onwards, an important contribution. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Whatever advantages the BeoVision 5 offered, there were few technical reasons for paying the very high price to acquire one. Picture performance, though well up to what could be expected from a good plasma display, was not as good as B&O’s more traditional designs. This improved as better display panels were fitted but even at the end of the run the BeoVision 5 had not reached the top of B&O’s own very high standards. It was also very power hungry, needing more energy to run than B&O’s early solid-state colour sets of the mid 1970s (e.g. the Beovision 6000). The set ran so warm that two computer-type fans had to be fitted inside, something that not even the Beovision 3000, with its 18 red hot valves, needed. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

When launched, the BeoVision 5 was massively expensive. The price of plasma display panels fell rapidly during its production run which did not help it to appear good value. The high price meant that the BeoVision 5 was really only of interest to the likes of cost-no-object footballers and entertainers, the middle classes who have kept B&O going by buying LX and MX models by the thousand were not generally interested in a set at this price, despite the distinctive styling and class-leading picture and sound quality. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Whilst not being a showpiece of technical competence, the BeoVision 5 was nevertheless a good entry into the field of plasma television by B&O. It was certainly one of the most distinctive and memorable sets of the period and clearly demonstrated that there was an alternative to the otherwise ubiquitous big black rectangle in a thin silver frame hung half way up a wall. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.


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NOTE 1: with floor stand

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