Phoenix Rising

When I first heard about the BeoVision 4-103 from Danish design king Bang & Olufsen, I thought I knew the story—a 103-inch 1080p plasma, undoubtedly sourced from Panasonic, with B&O's unique stylistic treatment. That's all true, but there's much more to it, as I discovered at a recent press demo held at the Aston Martin dealership in Beverly Hills, California.

Despite its considerable bulk—the panel weighs nearly 600 pounds—this behemoth is normally mounted on a motorized lift that gently and silently raises it off the floor when you turn it on. Once in position, the panel can be rotated ±20 degrees and tilted ±4 degrees, no mean feat for the incredibly powerful electronic-motor system.

When the panel is elevated, a triangular BeoLab 10 speaker emerges from behind to take its place below the screen as a self-powered center-channel speaker. Like most B&O speakers, this one includes an Acoustic Lens that widens the horizontal dispersion of the high frequencies and limits their vertical dispersion, enlarging the "sweet spot" while minimizing reflections from the floor and ceiling.

One of the coolest features provided by this and a few of the company's other plasma TVs is called Automatic Color Management (ACM). Each BeoVision 4-103 is calibrated at the factory, but B&O realizes that plasma phosphors can change their color characteristics as they age. So ACM periodically swings a small camera down from behind the upper bezel and displays white, gray, and black windows. The set's electronics then adjust the white point, keeping it where it's supposed to be during the panel's entire 100,000-hour lifespan—or you can do it whenever you want to impress your friends.

The demo was quite impressive—we saw HD clips from Quantum of Solace, Transformers, and Kung Fu Panda as well as some B&O custom footage. The picture was exceptional, with great detail, colors, and blacks. Equally impressive was the sound system consisting of the aforementioned BeoLab 10 center, two BeoLab 5s—which include integrated subwoofers—in the front left and right positions, and two BeoLab 9s as surrounds, all internally powered by B&O's ICEpower digital amps.

If you want one of these beauties, it'll cost you—$111,805 to be exact. You can omit the motorized stand and center speaker, which shaves almost $20,000 from the price tag, but then you must hang it on a seriously sturdy wall. In fact, before B&O will sell you one, a team of specialists first visits your home to determine if you have the infrastructure to support it, including a dedicated 220V electrical circuit—this thing draws around 1200 watts of power when on—and adequate reinforcement in the floor or wall. If your home passes muster, get ready for the most awesome plasma on the market today.