Last year’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and Seahawks set a TV viewership record, with an average of 114.4 million people tuning in. Viewership peaked at 120.8 million viewers during the final winning drive, making the game the most-watched show in American history. The NFL also reported that 118.5 million people watched Katy Perry’s halftime show, breaking the record of 112.2 million set by Super Bowl 48 the previous year. About 115 million viewers are expected to tune in to this year’s Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
You won’t have quite so many people at your own Super Bowl party, of course, but you do want to make sure everyone has a great experience. Here are our picks for the top entertainment technology to ensure your guests have a great view of the big game.
The age of 4K Ultra HD TV is here. If you’re planning on getting a new TV to watch the game, the best TVs to buy in 2016 are 4K models. You can now get a 50-inch 4K screen for less than $600 and a 55-inch screen for less than $1,000. LCDs are usually a better buy than OLEDs, delivering comparable quality for a fraction of the price. Go with a flat screen rather than a curved screen; curved screens provide fewer viewing angles, produce exaggerated reflections and cost triple the price. A few other things you should know:
- You’ll need HDMI cables to set up your 4K TV, but don’t let a salesperson talk you into purchasing expensive 4K cables. You can get HDMI cables that work with 4K TVs for less than $10 from online vendors such as Amazon and Monoprice.
- For best picture quality, adjust your settings from Store Demonstration Mode to Home Mode. Your setup screen will check if you’re using an over-the-air antenna or cable/satellite.
- If your TV has Internet connectivity, you should next connect to the Internet with an ethernet or Wi-Fi connection and follow the set-up instructions.
- You should also update your firmware. CBS will be streaming the game for free, so you will have the option of using your Internet connection to display the game on your TV.
- After these preliminary steps, you can then adjust your picture mode to the most accurate setting for your screen, which is usually going to be movie or cinematic mode. You can also adjust your contrast, brightness, color/tint, sharpness, color temperature and backlight.
- You should also adjust your cable or satellite box and DVD or Blu-ray player to your new TV. Set your box output to 1080i resolution and set both boxes and players to 16×9 aspect ratio (or 4×3 for older players).
If you’re using a setup disc, it will guide you through the above steps. Otherwise, consult your owner’s manual for additional guidance.
If you want an even bigger screen than a 4K TV, you could go with a projector instead of a TV. Projector screens average 120 inches, although some are as large as 300 inches. To get the game to display on your projector, you will need to connect your cable or satellite box to your projector, connect a digital television tuner connected to an antenna to your projector, or connect a media extender to your projector (if your video source is a computer or mobile device in your home media network).
Speakers and Sound Bars
TVs sound better with an external sound source, and projectors require them. Your basic option is choosing between surround sound vs. a sound bar. A surround-sound system uses several speakers placed around the room to create a sense of ambient sound. A typical surround sound setup uses 5.1 channels consisting of a central speaker, a pair of left and right front speakers, a pair of left and right surround speakers and a subwoofer for bass. Some setups add additional channels for rear or overhead sound effects.
A sound bar houses multiple speakers in a single bar or cabinet and projects their sound to your seating area from a central location. Some sound bars house multiple speakers, amplifiers and a subwoofer inside a bar. Others house audio equipment in a cabinet that doubles as a TV stand. Others combine a bar with a pair of surround speakers.
Surround-sound systems deliver better sound quality and work better for rooms that are 15×20 feet or larger, but they are more expensive. Sound bars are less expensive and work well in rooms that are 13×12 feet or smaller.
Some surround-sound and sound bar systems feature multi-room support. Certain multi-room systems can deliver sound to as many as 6, 8, 10, 16 or even 32 rooms. You can set some systems up to control all the sound in the house from a central location or send different sounds to different parts of the house. You can even place speakers outside your house if you’re living in a warm area and want to have an outdoor Super Bowl party.
To connect your TV or projector and your sound system to other components of your home theater system, your best option is to get an AV receiver. An AV receiver lets you send signals to your viewing display and speaker system from other sources such as cable and satellite receivers, DVD and Blu-ray players and video game consoles. Receivers typically include five to eight HDMI inputs, networking capability and automatic calibration for speakers. Read how to find the best receiver for your budget here.
You can also download apps to your mobile device to add to your enjoyment of the game. Take a look:
- Verizon has an exclusive deal with the NFL in which all smartphone users can use the NFL Mobile App to get every game including playoffs streamed to their mobile devices free, as well as the NFL Network.
- You can also use mobile apps to play NFL fantasy football, view exclusive NFL Snapchat content by following the Broncos and Panthers accounts and check out the “Snap Story” associated with the Super Bowl.
- And if your mobile device is connected to a smart home system, you can even use your smartphone to adjust your TV room’s lighting, thermostat and sound system while you sit back and watch the Super Bowl.