TV in Bose's $5,000 system resembles $750 Samsung LCD

Bose VideoWave II entertainment system
Bose VideoWave II entertainment system has a monitor built by Samsung, and lacks features found in far less expensive systems.

Bose, the consumer electronics company known for loudspeakers, headphones and home entertainment systems, on Thursday announced its second-generation combo HDTV and sound system, the VideoWave II. Shipping now, the system is available in a 46-inch and 55-inch screen sizes. But further research reveals that the included TV most closely resembles a far cheaper Samsung set — and that Samsung itself made the sets for Bose.

The Bose VideoWave II consists of a 120Hz LED LCD backlit monitor (meaning it has no integrated over-the-air TV tuner). It has six woofers and a seven-element speaker array. The screen is connected to the “console” which provides audio amplifiers and inputs (four HDMI, two component video inputs, one composite video and two USB ports) and switching.

Having the speakers built-in to the TV screen creates a deeper cabinet than found in other high definition TVs: The 46-inch model measures a husky 6 inches deep, while the 55-inch is 5.5 inches. 

The price? The 46-inch sells for $4,999 and the 55-inch is $5,999. For the given screen size, these Bose TVs are the most expensive flat-panel consumer TVs available.

But the thing is, as Bose sources confirm, the monitors are built to Bose's specifications by Samsung. And while the VideoWave II system includes more than just a display — and certainly a Bose sound system is worth some kind of premium — the smaller of the TV sets is comparable to a Samsung set that starts at around $750. And the image-enhancing features that are readily available in $1,000-and-up TVs from other manufacturers are not available on the new Bose models.

Both sizes of Bose monitor use direct-lit LED backlights, meaning the LEDs are placed directly behind the LCD screen, according to a Bose customer-service representative with whom we discussed the specs. However, unlike the highly regarded Sony XBR55HX929 or the Sharp Elite HDTV, there is no local LED dimming to deepen the black levels. The Bose VideoWave II monitor also doesn’t include a scanning backlight, which would improve motion resolution — another feature found on most LED-backlit HDTVs. It also lacks an HDTV (rec. 709) color setting found on almost all top models, which provides accurate color for Blu-ray discs and high-def broadcasts.

You won't find popular perks such as 3-D viewing and "smart TV" Internet streaming on the Bose models either.

Comparing TVs alone, the Samsung model that closest resembles the Bose 46-inch monitor is the UN46EH6000, a 120Hz LED backlit HDTV. It sells for under $740, measures a depth of 3.7 inches, and has features — such as the scanning backlight and integrated over-the-air tuner — that the Bose lacks. 

That leaves $4,260 left over from the $4,999 price tag, with which one could buy a heck of a sound system. The Yamaha YSP-2200, a good audio comparison, delivers 132-watt surround sound in an 18-element speaker array — for $799.

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