What do the Sony KDL-22PX300, the Sharp SF1, the “Divers 2000” and the B&O AV5 have in common? All four are televisions have a built-in game console. Respectively it concerns the game functionalities of the PS2, SNES, Dreamcast and last but not least the CD-i! The B&O AV5 therefore belongs to an illustrious list. However, where the first three are a very popular collector’s item for retro gamers and collectors, many of them will ignore the B&O, because when they see the AV5 for the first time, they will probably not suspect that you are face to face with a real gaming TV. The reason for this is simple. Both the TV and the CD-i are primarily not intended for gaming at all.
B&O is a luxury brand. The audio-video equipment of the Danish company is only for the rich among us. You had to pay approximately 10,000 guilders to buy a new AV5. To expensive for many gamers, who often have to take two part-time jobs to be able to buy a new Playstation or Xbox after saving their hard-earned money.
The AV5 is intended as an hybrid system. It served to delight all family members. The TV had a fully integrated CD home entertainment system, consisting of a CD player, FM radio and very powerful speakers. These speakers are unique selling point. At the touch of a button, two loudspeakers mechanically shoot out of both sides of the TV. At the same time, the picture of the TV opens in a way that makes it look like cinema curtains are being pulled away. It’s like the TV is opening up to you. A gimmick that strangely enough is very satisfying. The speakers have a clear and powerful sound that is supported by a large bass speaker integrated at the bottom of the back of the stand. The CD (i) player, although integrated, can be used independently of the TV function, so that the AV5 can also be used in a room as a stand-alone hi-fi set.
Finally, you would almost forget that the AV5 is also a high-end television. It has a solid Philips CRT tube with a diagonal of 63 cm (25 inch) and an anti-reflective coating. Assisted by a state of the art light sensor, which registers the light level in the room and adjusts the brightness of the image accordingly, so you constantly experience a high-quality image.
For many, in addition to the slide-out speakers, the TV stand will be the one that sorts the most enthusiasm. It’s impossible to place the AV5 on a TV cabinet as the stand is an integral part of the product experience. The stand seems very slender at first glance, which makes you doubt whether it is sturdy enough to carry the heavy tube. However, the stand is made of aluminum, which not only makes it very light, but also provides the necessary strength and therefore stability. Also, aluminum does not vibrate, so that the speakers hidden in position are not hindered by the construction.
As soon as you switch on the TV, the motorised position automatically switches to a preset position, which is adjustable in the TV-menue. During use, you can turn the TV at will with the BEO4 remote control. Ideal if you have the TV in a somewhat larger room and always want the best viewing angle.
The AV5 is a very robust TV. The back of the television can be removed by unscrewing 4 screws. With a single screwdriver almost all components can then be disconnected. What amazed me as a millennial is the enormous amount of components that make up a CRT, and in particular this AV5. By integrating the motorized stand, speakers, CD section with of course the picture tube and tuners, B&O has delivered a technological masterpiece. Most components are easily accessible, which facilitates repair.
The big exception to this is the CD-i part. Although a small cover on the back of the CD-i player suggests that it can be easily replaced, in reality I had to unscrew half the TV to replace the CD-i part and I still have no idea what the damned cover is for.
Nice detail is that this CD tray is illuminated so you can easily place your game in the tray, even in the dark. Another striking feature is that the tray has an ‘open’ construction. Due to the slender top of TV, B&O has chosen to keep the tray as small as possible. This results in the fact that the CDs protrude from the top of the TV during playback. This looks very nice, but it has one major drawback. Because of such an “open” construction, the inside of the CD-i player is unprotected against dust and debris. Even if you don’t use the CD player, or the TV as a whole, dust will get into the mechanism of the CD-i. As a result, after 20 years it is difficult to find a AV5 with a working CD-i player. As mentioned, the CD-i part of the TV is also very difficult to access for repair. Very unfortunate, especially because the rest of the TV has been thought through so well.
The B&O has three Scart ports. Only the first two are inputs and only the on the left has RGB-functionality. The third port is limited to linking the AV5 to another screen. For example with this port it is possible to mirror a CD-i game, displayed on the AV5, to another TV with a Scart input. Furthermore on the back of the TV also an Antenna in- and out port and the typical B&O Beolink ports can be found.
On the top left of the TV the following ports are available (from left to right): an audio-in port, AV-ports, a S-VHS port and two CD-i controller ports (see picture).
As indicated earlier, the B&O has a built-in CD-i player. The fact that a CD-i player was built in instead of a regular CD player or a DVD player is nothing more than remarkable. The sale of the TV started in 1997, at a moment when the sales of the regulair CD-i consoles, movies and games were already in decline. 1997 was also the introduction year of the DVD. The last AV5 rolled off the production line in 2002. At that time the CD-i was not supported anymore and the DVD became more and more common. So when you bought a new AV5 in 2002 you got an exorbitantly expensive TV that was also endowed with outdated technology.
However, the fact that the AV5 has a built-in CD-i player makes it “suitable” as a gaming console. While the CD-i may not go down in history as the most popular game console, there are a number of decent games available. Due to the partner deal of Philips and Nintendo, a number of games with Nintendo characters have been released for the CD-i. While these CD-i variants of the popular franchises cannot stand the light of day according to many Nintendo fans, Hotel Mario and Zelda’s Adventure are fun games. In addition, ports such as Lemmings, Tetris and Pac Man and exclusive CD-i titles such as The Apprentice are definitely worth playing.
Starting a game is simple. You press the “CD” button on the BEO4 remote control. The CD-i drive will then open. As soon as you place the CD-i game and press the “CD button” again, the tray will close and the TV will automatically switch to the Philips CD-i player. If it concerns a regular audio-CD, the screen remains off and the sound is played through the boxes. However, if you have inserted a CD-i movie or -game, the screen turns on and the media will automatically start playing.
The CD-i section can be operated in two ways. First of all, the majority of the AV5 models have two controller ports on the back of the TV. Two CD-i game controllers can be attached to these ports, so that you can play games directly from the TV. The second option is more exceptional. With the very popular BEO4 remote it is also possible to play the CD-i games and control the video functionalities. This suggests that the CD-i part of the AV5, besides wired controller input, also has IR functionality with which games can be played. I have also tried to play games on the AV5 with two regular IR-CD-i controllers, but that has not yet worked.
So all wired CD-i game controllers work on the AV5, as well as the “wireless” B&O BEO4. An important disadvantage of controlling games with the BEO4 remote however is that it only registers pressing 1 button at a time. Running and jumping at the same time is therefore not possible. Of all the games I have played on TV so far only Lemmings, due to his point and click gameplay, was reasonably playable with the BEO4.
All versions of the AV5 have a built-in CD-i player. However, not all models have the functionality enabled out of the box. In that case the CD-i player only works as a CD-player. These AV5’s with version number NEU8200, also do not have the two controller ports on the back of the TV. However, the CD-i can easily be switched on manually via the software menu, after which all CD-i movies and games, except the CD-i’s that use the Digital Video Cartridge, can be played.
To switch on the CD-i module:
1. press ‘menu’ on the remote
2. press ‘0-0-go’. The service menu will now appear.
3. go to ‘monitor’.
4. go to ‘CD Type’.
5. switch ‘audio’ to ‘CD-i’
6. press ‘exit’ on the remote.
the B&O AV5 is a very special TV. It has excellent image quality, very good speakers and, last but not least, a built-in CD-i. Can it be called a gaming TV ? Frankly not. It is simply a beautiful multimedia device aimed at buyers with a large budget. The fact that you can also play CD-i games with it is a nice extra.
|Type||High-end consumer TV|
|Brand||Bang & Olufsen|
|10.000 gulden (4500 euro)|
|Colours||Black, Blue, Green, Red, Tan and Silve|
|Monitor type||Philips Black line SF, Black Matrix|
|Screen size||63 cm / 25 inch|
(visible: 59 cm)
|Refresh rate||20 KHz|
|Inputs||-2 x Scart input|
-1 x Scart output
-1 x AV
-1 x S-VHS
-1 x RF in
-1 x RF out
|Software Version||3.3 (most recent 3.4)|
|Subsidiary||Built-in CD-i player (Video/Gaming Console)|