Beo 1

(2000-2002) Video terminal

Picture by Nick Jarman


A special remote control for use with BeoVision 1 and BeoCenter 1. Having organised the range from the disarray of the mid 80s, when it seemed that every product had its own unique and incompatible remote control system, it seemed inexplicable to launch an alternative to the otherwise ubiquitous Beo 4. That is not to say that the Beo 1 and Beo 4 were incompatible, they used the same IR code, and BeoCenter 1 and BeoVision 1 could use the Beo 4 and still provide full functionality. This was in fact a very good idea, as the Beo 1 proved totally inadequate for the task in hand. To attempt to operate a complex television capable of receiving many channels, a teletext decoder with access to hundreds of pages and in some cases a DVD player which could, in theory, provide instant access to any point on the disc with a remote control with no number keys would be clearly a trying task, and it is not surprising that some owners of these sets chose to buy a Beo 4 instead. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The basis of the simplification was the use of the menu display on the TV screen and the matrix LED readout below it to navigate the menu structure. This was fine in concept but in practice it just proved cumbersome and complicated, completely at odds with the traditional B&O thinking of technology being for man’s benefit, not the other way round. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

As if this were not bad enough, the designers compounded their error by giving the Beo 1 a smooth, shiny metallic finish. While this looked sleek and futuristic in the catalogues in the showroom, making the Beo 4 and Beolink 1000 look ordinary, it was clearly the wrong choice of material for something that was to be handled regularly. Every fingermark showed, and even after only an evening’s viewing (and perhaps a few wrestles with the menu system), Beo 1 would not be looking so attractive. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

All this is not to say that the Beo 1 had no good points, it was at least compatible with the existing IR system, giving users a choice, and the quality of finish was excellent. What is regrettable though was that it marked the end of the rigorous rationality, which was part of what had made Bang & Olufsen products special. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

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