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Totally blow out the big game! Part II: Super Bowl XL

Totally blow out the big game! Part II: Super Bowl XL
Ryan Block
Ryan Block|January 31, 2006 4:11 PM
We don't know exactly how deep you want to roll on Super Bowl XL, but while they're gearing up overseas for some serious footie, we're prepping for our annual wardrobe malfunction and super slow-mo instant-replay seven-second rewind fest. Ain't nothing gonna help you enjoy the big game like some big gear (and bros and beer, we'd presume), and since this year we can apparently expect what's to be the most technically advanced Super Bowl coverage to date, you need to come equipped. Here are some of our XL picks for 2006.


You've got more choices now than ever before for watching the broadcast in high definition, and many are surprisingly affordable -- besides, if you're plunking down for a new rig this year, why settle for less than the best? Even though the Bowl will be broadcast in 720p and 1080i, it'll also be shot in 1080p for archival; but today we're talking 1080p, people. We'll forgo a singular widescreen recommendation, but our fave on a kinda sorta modest budget may be the JVC D-ILA 70-inch LCoS set. This 1080p behemoth can be acquired for a mere six grand, and features dual HDMI, CableCARD, and, um, a 70-inch freaking screen. But if you want to go a little cheaper still you can hit up RCA's wobulating Scenium HD50LPW175 50-incher for less than two and a half grand. And if you love flat, Panasonic TH-50PHD8UK 50-inch sets are on top; they come with CableCARD, HDMI in, and an integrated ATSC/QAM tuner.
Of course, your options don't end there. You can also hook it up with a projector if you're interested at all in blanketing that wide white wall of yours with a couple hundred inches of screen. Keep an eye out for something like BenQ's $8,000 1080p behemoth PE8720, a DLP monster that shoots a 1000 lumen and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio picture that should do you up real nice when spread over 30 or 40 square feet.


If you can afford the Niveus K2 HTPC we're not sure what you're doing watching  the game at home -- if we were you we'd just take our private jet to Detroit and then swing by Hawaii on the way back for the afterparty.  But if you really want to stay home, it's hard to find a better equipped HTPC than Niveus' succinctly-named K2.  For a paltry $14,999, you get a box stacked with a P4 3.6GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 1TB array, a dual-ayer DVD Recorder, dual TV tuners, dual HDTV tuners, and 24-bit / 192Khz high def 6-channel studio grade audio, all running on Windows XP MCE 2005.  Or you could, you know, buy a car or something. Point being, may we suggest a Media PC (preferably one with dual tuners) to get you started on your road to game-dom?


If you don't want to go the Media PC route, there are plenty of standalone DVRs to chose from, although your options become narrowed a bit if you want to capture the game in high-def. Sony's DHG-HDD500 should get the job done nicely though, with built-in NTSC and ATSC tuners along with 500GB of storage for 60 hours of HD programming, or 400 hours of lowly standard definition content.  If the $1,000 list price is too much for you, however, you can scale things back to a 250GB hard drive and save a couple of hundred bucks.

The Sound

Just because you're to be going staring at a nice big high def picture for a few hours doesn't mean your ears are going be fine with that pair of built-in speakers on your display. So if you're a little strapped for time or cash before Sunday and can't manage hand picking a receiver and a speaker system to go with it, you'd best spring for a home theater in a box (HTIB). Onkyo's HT-S780 7.1 surround system can get you going for $400, if you're looking for some meaty sound, or you could cut the bulk -- and the wires -- with the Sony DAV-FX100W, which includes a five-disc DVD changer with 720p / 1080i upscaling for $900. Either way you should hopefully be able to hear some nice crunching tackles over the din of crunching nachos.

The Seats

Of course, you need something to sit on while you're watching these guys go at it, and for our dime nothing beats La-Z-Boy's Matinee series. They can be configured to fit any room and include such options as powered recliners and the all-important storage modules with built-in cupholders. Unfortunately, La-Z-Boy appears to have dropped the fridge option that made its Oasis chair such a hit. But we're still ready to outfit our media room with the full line-up.

The Food

We all know you can't have a Superbowl party without food. But when are you going to schedule those all-important trips to the kitchen? Certainly not during the game, and especially not during the commercials. That's why you should rush out right now and get one of LG's refrigerators with a built-in 13-inch cable-ready LCD TV. No, it's not HD. But it'll save you from missing a big play (or this year's GoDaddy.com moment) while you're stocking up on refills. Then again you could also go with something a little smaller and significant-other friendly, like Sharp's AX-HC1 fat-reducing superheated steam oven. Trust us, it's much more fun (and interesting) getting a beer belly, and not a nacho one.

The Pre-Game Game

Sadly, despite your best efforts of yelling at the plasma screen or throwing potato chips in the air, the actual football game is out of your control, so you might want to vent a bit of aggression and test out that new HD setup of yours with an Xbox 360 in a pre-game game of Madden NFL '06: Steelers vs. Seahawks, living room style. We suggest you get a bit of practice in before the big day though, because you don't want to wait for everyone to be over and watching when you pilot Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Hasselbeck to a crushing Super Bowl defeat.
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