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Totally blow out the big game! Part V: Super Bowl XLIV


Sure, the Wall Street Journal says there's only 11 minutes of actual action in every NFL game, but on Super Bowl Sunday we'll be prepped to catch every one of them -- and all the commercials, play stoppages and halftime shows in between -- in the best quality possible. The Colts and Saints both came close to racking up undefeated regular season records but missed, due either to lackluster play and late season injuries or just a decision to play Curtis Painter. While that means the '72 Dolphins get to hang onto a glorious past for one more year, these pass-happy offenses of the future are expected to light up the scoreboard all night and we'll need to make sure our equipment is up to par for a 2010 Super Bowl experience.


While 2010's finest HDTVs are still caught in post-CES / pre-shipping limbo, there are plenty of televisions from 2009 (and even 2008) that will do Miami justice. Want to bridge the past and future in glorious style? Mitsubishi kept DLP going last year while offering sets in sizes from 60- to 82-inches -- bring home a 73-inch WD-73837 now for $2,249 before for the game, then reup with a 3D adapter and Blu-ray player just in time for Avatar in a few months. Samsung's 55-inch LED backlit UN55B8000 is available for less than we'd seen over the holidays at just $2,799 and will even let you Twitter during the game -- good luck getting your guests to go for that. Going green for the environment and your wallet? Sharp fills that spot with the energy efficient 32-inch LED packing LC32LE700UN which currently carries a $736 price tag on Amazon. If you still feel the need for an even bigger LCD, the 65-inch Samsung LN65B650 can be found for around $5,000 but at that size we'd likely choose to watch Peyton make adjustments at the line on a plasma; at the high end a 65-inch Panasonic TC-P65V10 is very easy on the eyes for just under $4,000 while at the low end the company's 50-inch TC-P50S1 gets it done for around $1,000.

Of course, if going big is your goal, the only sensible choice is a projector. The well heeled have many options, among them are Sony's latest VPL-HW15 beamer for $2,800, a 10,000:1 contrast ratio unit from Runco for a mere $5,000, or JVC's $10k DLA-HD990. Even if you're just projecting on a blank wall or a bed sheet, 1080p PJs dipped under the $1,000 barrier last year -- look for the Optoma HD20 or Vivitek H1080FD and spend the rest on Steel Reserve and no one will ever know the difference. Ultimately, for true Captain Showstopper status nothing beats an outdoor setup. Although getting the combination of balmy early February weather and sunset in time for a 6:28 p.m. EST kickoff is a trick few can pull off, once you've committed $1,200 for a blow-up 220-inch screen from Open Air Cinema squinting through the first quarter or throwing on a jacket, hat and gloves for OT is only a trivial matter.

The signal

CBS already has its own plan to blow out the big game with 50 HD cameras, including lots of up close and super slow motion setups. Just in case you only turn on your TV one day a year, now might be a good time to mention the digital transition has happened, and if you were planning on catching the game on that old television in the basement, an adapter (and possibly some antenna tweaking to pick up the new digital signals) is likely in order, even if you're on cable. Still, we'd hope you got your OTA situation cleared up at some point in the last nine months, if not or if you're just looking for a backup in case of an untimely outage, check out our DTV converter tips from the wild, crazy days of 2009. Even if you have an HD box, is it set up properly? Connected via component cables or HDMI? Far too many people still believe they're watching HDTV when they aren't -- double check the settings on your television, cable box and which station you'll be tuning into ahead of time so any standard-def follies can be avoided. Say it with us: no 480i in 2010. Another habit we're hoping to see you break this year is paying too much for cables: Order HDMI cables from online sellers at Amazon, Blue Jeans Cable or Monoprice now to avoid getting ripped off in cable scams later.


Unfortunately CableCARD has failed to create opportunities for any new competitors here, so in 2010 we're left with roughly the same options as last year. Still, whether your DVR box comes from the TV provider or a standalone unit, there have been a slew of multiroom viewing updates, internet access and other features tossed in over the last year. Check in with us to make sure you're up to speed on everything your box can do and which channels are available just in case someone wants to watch something other than the game. Moxi just deployed an update for the Moxi Mate add-on, DirecTV launched a multiroom beta and Android scheduling, Comcast is unleashing remote DVR features and U-Verse has its Total Home DVR functions. February 7 is not the day to realize you don't know how to make sure the main television is tuned to the right channel and stays there.

The audio

New Orleans defensive coordinator has already stated a goal of making sure his players hit Peyton Manning as hard and as often as possible, if you want to maximize each impact those integrated TV speakers just won't cut it. In a compact package, VIZIO's VSB210WS soundbar system will deliver high quality stereo audio and can be found for as little as $232, but if enjoying all 5.1 channels of Dolby Surround delivered by CBS is your aim, the Onkyo HT-S7200 HTIB delivers quality sound as well as the auto calibration ease to get everything up and running quickly for as little as $699.

The laptop / smartphone

Pulling up stats, replays and keeping up with Super Bowl related Twitter posts (#SB44) is highly necessary. You can stick with the smartphone only approach, but in order to share the thrill of victory / agony of defeat with friends a slightly larger screen may be in order. Sporting a 10+ hour battery life, the ASUS 1005PE can crank through entire game, halftime show with The Who and postgame victorious Skype video chats without plugging in, and at just $319, you won't be too worried about any key drops or fumbles if Braylon Edwards or Adrian Peterson stops by. With mobile TV still in its infancy, if you absolutely must be away from home after kickoff a Slingbox (and Sling Player over 3G compatible phone, sorry iPhone) is probably your best bet.

The Pre-Game Game and the payback

We're sure you've already run through several seasons in your Madden 2010 online franchise and tweaked the sliders just so to give the perfect dash of realism, but why not take a step back and enjoy some 5-on-5 football? Madden NFL Arcade is up on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade for about $15, and it might just be the quicker, simpler game that everyone can enjoy before the real thing. Hidden bonus? Loser swaps out their Xbox Live / PlayStation Home avatar's gear for the winning team's full outfit -- permanently. It's the gift that keeps on giving all offseason long.

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

See just how far we've come:

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