February 1 is right around the corner, but if you were planning on sprucing up your home theater setup for the big game there’s still time. Here are five quick and easy upgrades you can make so you can feel the roar of the crowd and see the sweat dripping off the coach’s brow, all from the comfort of your armchair.
Upgrade Your TV
The most super football game of them all is the best excuse for buying a new television, especially if you’re having a party. Here are a few things to consider when searching for the best set for viewing sports:
- Go big or go home – 46 inches is the minimum for living room viewing.
- Choose a model with a high refresh rate (120HZ or higher) to avoid any potential ‘ghosting’ or blurriness.
- LED and LCD televisions are the leading tech in the space today. This article from AboutTech.com contains a continually updated rundown of the best over-40 in. models on the market.
- If you’re looking for a bargain, search for plasma TVs. They’re no longer being manufactured, which means you may be able to pick one up for a really good price. Don’t be fooled by the way they look on the showroom floor (dull in comparison to LEDS)-they actually have superior picture quality in the living room (unless your home happens to have fluorescent strip lighting). Plasma TVs are also great for football watching parties as they are viewable from any angle.
Once you’ve got your new TV out of the box, be sure to check out CNET’s searchable guide to optimize the picture settings. The worst thing you can do is to leave the picture settings as they were straight out of the box. Most of the time, the TV will have been set to the perfect levels for a showroom-super bright-so you’ll want to re-calibrate it for your living room’s lighting.
Set Up a Second Set
Already got a good TV? How about a second? For next season you’ll be all set for watching two games at once, but for the big game you can be sure all your party guests have a great view. All you need is an HDMI splitter and you can feed your cable signal into two sets. Then, before next season, pick up an indoor antenna like the Mohu Leaf ($25), and you can watch any game broadcast over the air on the second set for no extra cost.
Splurge on a Sound Bar
To make sure you can hear the roar of the crowd while still making out the concerns of the commentators, consider a Sound Bar. This is an excellent solution if you’ve been longing for surround sound but can’t stomach the expense. A Sound Bar sits under the TV (attached, or on a shelf or table, it can also be wall mounted) and simulates the effect of a full surround sound set-up for as little as $99.
Switch Out Your Curtains
The game is at 4:30 p.m. Phoenix, Ariz. time, meaning that if you’re on the West Coast, you’ll be watching in broad daylight. Blackout drapes are a quick solution to fix too much glare. Pop them up for the game and enjoy a truly immersive, theater-like experience.
- Get Some Cheer-Worthy Lighting
If you’ve been eyeing some color changing Wi-Fi powered lighting, then the fact that you can synchronize them with your team colors should be all the push you need to go out and get them before Feb. 1. Pick up a Philips Hue starter kit and you’ll be dancing to your team’s colors in no time. They’re super easy to install-just plug the bridge into your Wi-Fi router and screw the bulbs into your light sockets. Then download the OnSwitch app and choose the “Football” setting. Once you’ve selected your team, you can have your whole living room lit up with its colors, plus they’ll flash whenever the team scores.
Trying out some (or all) of these quick fixes for your home theater set-up will ensure your viewing experience on February 1 is an optimal one, even if your team’s results aren’t!