TVs all look decent enough these days. In fact, picture quality is such an easy target that manufacturers have moved on to compete with widgets and 3D. Screw that. I'd like to remind everyone that TVs need better sound.
We got hands-on (and eyes-on and ears-on) time today with Bose's first ever TV, the VideoWave, which puts sound quality at the forefront of priorities. The TV itself has a decent but not astounding picture, but that's not what Bose was focusing on. Bose claims the VideoWave's sonic guts are the result of 10 years of research, and the sophistication of what they've managed with so little space lends some credence to this claim. Rather than setting speakers around you, all of the VideoWave's audio comes from behind the screen itself. Six compact woofers produced thick, rumbling bass notes - enough to shake our room. But the real dazzler of the VideoWave is Bose's PhaseGuide technology, a vented tube that is able to aim a beam of sound around a room wherever needed. A Bose rep on hand was able to demonstrate the effect with a laser-mounted PhaseGuide - and sure enough, where he pointed, so followed the sound, as if a speaker were attached right there. (Yamaha has similar tech in its soundbars, based off sonar principles.)
But the thing is, for TVs picture quality comes first and the Bose wasn't terrific. Despite having great sound, I'm not sure I'd recommend a Bose over a Sony, Panasonic or Samsung. But that doesn't mean sound isn't important. With all picture qualities approaching "good enough" it's time to refocus on sound.
It's more important than ever. TVs have been racing to be thinner and low end frequencies have suffered greatly. And although far thicker than your average LCD set, the VideoWave is still svelte enough to wall mount and packs a speaker array that fooled our entire theatre into thinking we were surrounded by audio equipment. We'd make this trade off any time.
The question is whether simplicity (and it truly is ingenious simplicity) is worth the whopping $US5349 price tag for a 46-inch set. The VideoWave sounds fantastic, but so could any home theatre with a budget of over five grand.
But today, questions of price are almost irrelevant - the VideoWave sends a message as powerful as its bass to other manufacturers from this point forward. Built-in speakers have always been an afterthought. Today, Bose drove a stake into this notion, delivering audio quality that the likes of Samsung and Sony would drool over being associated with in your living room. 3D imagery has yet to prove it'll be around in five years - but audio is forever. If companies really want to start transforming our home-viewing experiences without the use of gimmicks, as of today they need to stop following James Cameron and start following Bose.