While 2011's best HDTVs have yet to make their debut you still have your pick of the finest technology 2010 had to offer. The Pioneer Elite line will return from hiatus later this year, at least in name, but for image quality the current top dog is Panasonic's VT25 line of plasmas. The bad news? High demand has drained most retailers of their supply in many sizes, but the 54-inch TC-P54VT25 seems to be widely available and currently can be had from Amazon for $2,160. Like most of the high end sets these days it also does 3D so our roundup of those sets isn't a bad place to start looking either. Totally committed to not dropping a single dime on anything 3D? Sony's edge LED lit KDL55EX710 can satisfy for the environmentally-conscious buyer and will be found practically anywhere this week for around $1,500, but what if your price range is a little lower? In previous years we've singled out Panasonic's lower end plasmas (S2, G2) but the budget conscious might do well to check out Samsung's PN50C550 which can be had for less than a grand and still offers impressive image quality at a large size.
Just for today, Amazon has Vizio's 42-inch pre-VIA era SV421XVT LED-backlit HDTV on sale for only $599 in its Gold Box deal, a healthy $115 off the regular price. Best Buy, Sam's Club, Wal-mart and others are also running promotions but price-wise we haven't found to many breaks over what they may have cost around Christmas, although shrewd shopping could yield extras like free 3D glasses or a throw in Blu-ray player. Other potential deals for the budget conscious? Dell is selling Mitsubishi's 3D-ready WD-60C10 60-inch DLP for $700 while 6ave.com has an Onkyo 3D-ready 7.1 receiver for $228 shipped. Be sure to let us know of any deals you see in the comments.
The split/second screen
It's amazing, we didn't even include cellphones, laptops or other devices in our first few roundups but these days they merit as much consideration as the TV of choice. First decision? Whether you want internet content on your TV screen right along with the game, or pushed to the side on your phone, laptop or tablet. Tuning a laptop, netbook or notbook to NFL.com for immediate highlights and stats is a no-brainer, but don't forget to bookmark the official Twitter page at SBTwitter.nfl.com (#sb45). Now, if you want your details on the screen, we'd recommend taking a peek at Samsung's connected TVs, with the recently launched ESPN ScoreCenter app they can bring all the latest details to light without looking away from the action once. Other options include other Yahoo! Widgets powered TVs with access to info from Yahoo! Sports, and of course the Google TV, although the apparent lack of any HTML5 companion pages from the NFL similar to the NBA's approach reduce its effectiveness for now -- we'll check back for the 2012 game after the Market opens.
Of course, if you want nothing but the game itself on your flatscreen, one should make sure your cellphone or tablet are properly outfitted for the festivities. The aforementioned ScoreCenter app is available for most platforms, while the NFL also gets into the action with its existing GameCenter apps. New for this week are The Official Mobile Guide (available on iOS and Android) which comes in handy at home or in the stadium if you have a ticket, or even if you don't, The Official Game Program on iPad to get that at the stadium feel.
When it comes to setup, we've got you covered. If you jumped wholeheartedly into cable cutting and are trying to get your Super Bowl fix via antenna for the first time, check back on our post-DTV conversion tips to find out what's needed. Of course, this year an HD setup is even more of a requirement, now that Fox has taken the lead in framing sports broadcasts for 16:9 widescreen. On SDTVs, that means black bars, while HD viewers can expect to see the score and other logos pushed further out to the edges than normal, and hopefully camera angles that have been adjusted to take advantage of the extra space. Like CBS last year, Fox is bringing 50 cameras to cover the event, including four super slow motion 180fps cameras and two "X-MO" slow motion cams to catch the action at up to 500 frames per second. That's on top of the 20 manned cameras, 8 robotic cameras, Cable Cam, 7 unmanned cameras and 8 pregame cameras. here's a layout of their positioning, just in case you got confused -- be sure to forward it to any friends who still aren't sure they need an HDTV.
The Pre-Game Game and the Payback
Why wait until game time to pull out the tablet? Madden NFL 11 by EA on the iPad ($12.99) means you can keep the game going without switching back and forth on the TV, and even has an option to take it really oldschool and play Electric football vibrating table-style. As far as the payback? You're holding it, put your portable where your mouth is and assert your dominance over all comers. Upside, if you lose, there ought to be an upgrade due right around the corner. Win/win.
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See just how far we've come: