Considering that Pittsburgh already nabbed "one for the thumb," it's safe to say they're just going for history now. The Steelers and Cardinals didn't meet during the regular season this year (a shame, we know), but you can bet both clubs are ready for what's coming when February 1st rolls around. In fact, the only question remaining is this: are you? If you've suddenly found yourself shocked and unprepared, follow us past the break for our guidance on blowing out Super Bowl XLIII.

The HDTV

We just detailed the HDTVs that are destined to arrive on store shelves over the course of this year, but NFL fanatics looking to upgrade their set prior to February need something good right now. For those who've been losing sleep over how to spend that wad of cash cluttering up their front pocket, we can't recommend the 65-inch LaserVue from Mitsubishi highly enough. Sure, it'll set you back seven large, but you can count on wooing at least a hundred or so individuals that'll be more than happy to pay for the privilege of watching it. Stepping down a bit in terms of budget, there's always the 52-inch Sony BRAVIA KDL-52XBR6 ($3,699) -- which should melt the hearts of flat-panel lovers -- or the 52-inch Toshiba REGZA 52XV545U at just $2,499. Plasma aficionados can't go wrong with the Pioneer KURO PDP-6020FD ($5,500), while true bargain shoppers should be pleased with VIZIO's 55-inch VF550XVT1A 120Hz HDTV ($1,799).


If the idea of being restricted to an unchangeable panel size has you all worked up, fret not -- these things called projectors are really ill. For $3,500, it's tough to ignore Sony's 1080p VPL-HW10, which has been deemed awesome by just about every Earthling to ever see it in action. 'Course, those really living life to the fullest won't likely pass up an opportunity to install SIM2's $36,495 C3X LUMIS HOST, but those unwilling to duck under 1080p and pay over two grand will find their perfect match in the Sanyo PLV-1080HD. Given just how rough the economy is, we also felt it prudent to include a 720p option, and Sharp's PG-F255W DLP beamer should provide loads of smiles for just $999.

The Signal


For the first time since the tail end of the 1997 NFL season, NBC will be the network broadcasting the Super Bowl. It'll be shown in gorgeous 1080i, and the tilt itself will be preceded by a three hour edition of Today live from Tampa (the matchup's host city). Also of note, Super Bowl XLIII will be the last Super Bowl shown in the United States in digital and analog formats (or at least we hope), though Hawaii residents will have to scoot over to the mainland to catch the completely not-riveting analog broadcast given their state's proactive stance on the digital TV transition. The clearest, most highly recommended way of tuning in is via OTA antenna. If you're close enough to a local NBC tower, just throw up an antenna, tap into your ATSC tuner and enjoy. If not, you'll need to phone up your local pay-TV provider (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, etc.) and see if they can't deliver your locals (or just NBC) in high-definition. If that fails, you can also call up DISH Network or DirecTV, but again, make absolutely certain they offer your locals in HD before signing the dotted line. Regardless of which option you choose, just make darn sure you aren't stuck watching the game in SD.
[Image courtesy of Troika / NBC]

The HTPC

Given that Alienware axed what would've definitely been a recommendation here, we're left with one fewer option for the HTPC category this year. We can't help but toss in the Denali Limited Edition from Niveus for those with gobs of cheddar, and Cannon PC's family is equally awesome but nearly as pricey. The most cost effective option, however, is likely to come from Okoro Media Systems. The 2009 OMS-LX100 comes stocked with a very capable OTA tuner, though users looking to record pay-TV channels can equip it with an ATI Digital CableCARD tuner. Though, we should mention that folks with loads of free time and a DIY gene or two can probably find a better value in just crafting their own HTPC -- might we recommend this beastly enclosure?


The HD DVR


The standalone HD DVR is a dying breed, but we saw a huge release late last year in the DTVPal DVR. Once known as the EchoStar TR-50, this digital-to-analog converter / HD DVR hybrid device can handle 30 full hours of high-def material from local networks or 150 hours of SD material. For those into a thing called overkill, there's also the Digeo Moxi, an $800 standalone recorder that offers up 500GB of storage alongside dual-tuner multistream CableCARD support.

The Audio


Probably the most difficult portion of this equation is the audio. For those cramped in a studio apartment, we can wholeheartedly recommend Yamaha's YSP-3050 Digital Sound Projector. If you've a bit more space to spare, the BDV-IT1000ES and BDV-IS1000 HTIB systems bring full scale surround sound in compact packages. If you're ready to go all out (er, all out as far as packaged systems are concerned), it'll be tough to beat the value proposition in Onkyo's HT-S9100THX. The big spenders in attendance can piece together a system utilizing Klipsch's Palladium / Icon separates, but you might want to consider bolting 'em to the floor if you're inviting friends over. Just sayin'.

The Seating

The NFL-themed home theater chair market is pretty much on lock down, so if you're looking to spruce up your seating arrangement for the big game, you'll be forking out around a grand apiece for an NFL Dreamseat. Now, we don't doubt these things are comfortable, but unless you've seriously got this whole "life" thing figured out, you might be better off with lawn chairs and officially licensed team stickers.

The Eats / Drinks

Make no mistake -- any decent party host better have copious quantities of wings, Doritos, nachos and Fruit-by-the-Foot on hand. Now that we're up to speed on our common knowledge, may we also suggest Micro Matic's v-POD. This masterful beverage dispenser / LCD TV enables your guests to line up for a refill without missing a single minute of the action / commercials, which is pretty darn thoughtful if we should say so ourselves. Of course, we wouldn't recommend an open bar if you plan on recouping any of the $3,000 that this will cost you, but to each his / her own.

The Pre-Game Game

Remember that HDTV you just bought? Yeah, that device that left a monumental hole in your wallet. There's no need to let it go to waste in the run-up to kickoff, so why not fire up the trusty PlayStation 3, pop in Madden NFL '09 and plug in a few XCM Dominator joysticks? We hear that Rapid Fire mode comes in handy when linked to the "Stiff Arm" button.

The Payback

You won't catch us endorsing the act of gambling, but we won't kid ourselves and believe that not a single one of you will have anything riding on the outcome of this one. For anyone watching the Vegas lines, you'll know that the Cards are the long shot, but why not throw your chips on the over and really make this interesting? Oh, and cash / pink slips are totally last year -- might we recommend forcing the loser to fly you to Akihabara on their dime in order to pick up your favorite Asian gadget? Or what about insisting that they ditch their favorite PMP in favor of a Coby MP836 for a solid year? If neither of those options sound interesting, just make the losing party "invest" a cool $1,000 in InPhase's holographic storage solution. Seems like it could really use another round of capital.
[Image courtesy of ZubazPants]

Obviously, we wouldn't be shocked to find that your favorite wares weren't listed here, so be our guest and shout our your recommendations in comments below!

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Totally blow out the big game! Part IV: Super Bowl XLIII