Building the ultimate Super Bowl entertainment system - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

Turn friends into roommates by building the ultimate Super Bowl entertainment system

Updated: Jan 29, 2014 02:16 PM
Image courtesy of Digital Trends Image courtesy of Digital Trends


By Caleb Denison
Provided by


Let's just take a moment to drop some truth: We spend far more time and effort celebrating the Super Bowl than we do actually watching it. Because aside from the football, the halftime show, and some awesome commercials … the Super Bowl is one giant excuse.

An excuse to drink copious amounts of beer before noon; an excuse to to consume more calories in the span of five hours than any human should consume in an entire week; an excuse to spend as much effort composing a fantastic plate of nachos as some chefs spend perfecting a white truffle risotto; and, best of all, an excuse to buy a bunch of cool home entertainment gear. 

According to a recent FatWallet survey, Americans buy more TVs during Super Bowl sales than they do during Black Friday sales. Not only is this proof positive that football is more popular than Jesus, but it goes to show that this game is one of the biggest occasions we celebrate in this country. ‘Merica!

It doesn't stop there, either. Since TVs are like the gateway drug to consumer electronics addiction, you can bet folks will be walking out of their local electronics retailer with more than one box on a pallet. And why not? This is actually a great time to update or upgrade a home-entertainment system. Prices are especially low this time of year, and there are many deals to be had. With that in mind, we thought we'd throw out some ideas on how to assemble a killer Super Bowl system you can love all year.

TV

Like we said earlier: It all starts with the TV, which is why we put together a Super Bowl TV buying guide just for the occasion. Check it out before you haul off to your local TV mart to save yourself some money and frustration. 

As for recommendations: We highly recommend getting a high-performance plasma TV. Plasma televisions are best for fast-moving sports, but if you want to get a really good model, you need to hurry. Panasonic has discontinued its vaunted plasma line, and the last of its amazing ST60 and VT60 series models are disappearing quickly due to understandably high demand. Pricing still remains highly competitive, though. Also consider Samsung's excellent F8500 plasma – easily one of the best TVs we tested in 2013.

If plasma isn't your bag, however, there are plenty of high-performance LED/LCD televisions available and at record-low prices. We suggest visiting our LED/LCD  reviews page here to get a good start on your research. 

If you're lucky enough to live in a more temperate climate, watching the game outside might be the way to go. Why not install an outdoor TV in your outdoor entertainment space? We suggest checking out Sunbrite's line of outdoor televisions. In our experience, they can take a beating all year long and provide a bright enough picture to do battle with that sun so many of us are coveting this time of year. 

Projector and screen

If you've longed for the kind of massive picture a projector can provide, but always thought you needed a pitch-black room or a huge budget, fear not. Not only have prices on quality projectors come way down, but you can get a super-bright model that can hang tough even in moderate ambient light. For a solid budget option, we like the $700 Viewsonic PJD-7820HD or the Optoma HD-25e. Want something a little more cinematic for darker rooms? Check out the Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 3020e or the BenQ W1500 for something wireless. For a screen, be sure to check out Da-Lite for some versatile options or Elite Screens for large models that won't break the bank.

Sound systems

What good are life-size players crashing together on your screen if the bone-crunching part sounds more like wadding up tissue paper? Big pictures need big sound to make a big impression, and the speakers in most televisions simply won't cut it. You don't have to invest in a full-on 7.1 home theater system to get big sound for the game (though you won't hear any objections from us!). Instead, consider a high-performance sound bar or sound base. 

The Andrew Jones Speaker Bar by Pioneer is as musical as it is explosive, and it comes at a very reasonable price. We're also very fond of the even more budget-friendly Vizio S4221W-C4. Or, if you want something that looks slick, sounds superb and adds the convenience of an expansive wireless ecosystem, the Sonos Playbar is a sweet pick – you can even add a wireless sub and Play:1 speakers for wireless surrounds.  

Blu-ray player

Sad as it may be, the Super Bowl will eventually come to an end. When it does, we can guarantee you are going to want to watch more awesome stuff on your new TV or projector. For that, there is no better source than a Blu-ray player. And the good news is, not only do today's Blu-ray players play gorgeous 1080p movies on your screen, they'll also stream all kinds of HD movies and TV shows from apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant and Vudu, among others. Our top pick is the Oppo BDP-103, an absolutely rock-solid, videophile- and audiophile-grade player with Wi-Fi built right in. For a less expensive, mainstream Blu-ray machine, check out the $120 Samsung BD-F5900, a competent player with all the apps, Wi-Fi and picture quality you're looking for.

Remote control

You're already futzing around with your smartphone all the time, why not turn it into your remote control? The Logitech Harmony Smart Control does that, and then some. A control hub will convert signals from your mobile device into IR and Bluetooth signals your components – even some gaming systems – can use. You can even place all of your gear behind closed cabinets and still have full control. Plus, an icon-based app makes controlling your gear a lot more intuitive. Phone not nearby? An included simple remote will get you by in a pinch. 

Furniture

A new TV  might require some new furniture. But if you're going to buy entertainment furniture, shouldn't it be entertaining? The $1,120 Endzone Media Console packs not only a 300-watt sound system with a smartphone dock built into it, but also a built-in fridge and – dig this – an electric fireplace. Just add a microwave and some frozen burritos and you won't move for a year … maybe more.

THX Tune-up app

We thought we'd wrap this list up with something that is both useful and, for now, totally free! Last year, THX introduced its video calibration app for iOS devices and, earlier this week, it arrived at the Google Play Store for Android fans. The app projects a series of images and test patterns on your television (using an adapter cable, in most cases – not included) to help you get your TV's settings dialed in just right. This is the best app we've seen for the purpose, and is much easier to use than most calibration discs. Did we mention it was free?


This article was originally posted on Digital Trends

 

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