How to Maximize Your TV for the Big Game

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Football season begins in late summer and carries all the way through to the following calendar year, and even though that’s a sizable stretch of time, it passes by incredibly quickly for true football fans. It’s hard to believe, but it’s happened again: regular season and the playoffs are over, and there’s only one game left. In order to get the most out of the big game, you need to make sure your television is properly set up and calibrated, and that your sound system is fully optimized. In this article, you’ll find helpful tips and suggestions that will help you maximize your entertainment system, so you can achieve maximum entertainment impact.

This game is unquestionably the biggest sporting event of the year in the United States. It’s an unofficial American holiday, where, instead of gathering around a roasted turkey, we gather around the largest TV we can find. It’s one of the few occasions at which the majority of the audience is all watching the same thing live, in real time—which is pretty unusual in this day of DVRs and Internet video streaming. The game brings together friends and family, and captures the attention of every generation. Well, most of the young people will be texting and tweeting as they watch, but at least they’ll be physically present.

Your goal with your entertainment system is to try to achieve football bliss. You want to be comfortably immersed in exhilarating entertainment during the game, and the key ingredients are a large-screen HDTV, an ample sound system, comfy seats, frosty beverages and obnoxious amounts of greasy snack foods. As specialists in home electronics, B&H wants to make sure that your TV and sound system are firing on all cylinders, so you and your guests can have the best football party possible.

There’s an undeniable primordial appeal to watching football. As the titans battle over the ball, you just want to eat, drink, grunt and pound your fists. With that in mind, the idea of fiddling around with the controls on your TV in order to optimize the picture may not sound very enticing. However, keep in mind that your favorite teams spend countless hours practicing, organizing and refining their strategies. If you invest a little effort into getting your entertainment system prepared, it could pay off big time. Below, you’ll find tips for getting the best performance out of the equipment you own, as well as links to complete home entertainment kits, in case you want to upgrade before kickoff.

Your team shouldn’t over throw, and you shouldn’t overscan   

Similar to how you can crop a picture using Photoshop, most TVs ship with their pictures slightly cropped. This is called Overscan, and it’s applied to your TV at the factory intentionally. Broadcasters sometimes leave artifacts at the far edges of their programming (such as little dots and lines). Manufacturers ship TVs with a little Overscan applied, so you don’t see these little dots and lines and think that your new TV is malfunctioning. When you crop a photograph and then blow it up to the original size, it loses some resolution, and the same thing happens with your TV. It’s worthwhile it to pick up the remote and check out your settings. See if you can locate the Overscan options, but be warned, not all manufacturers use that term. It may be named something else, but nevertheless, see if you can find it and adjust it to 0%. The little dots and lines at the edge of the screen are becoming less and less common, and if they’re not present, you’ll have the sharpest picture possible for the game.

Tackle the presets

Trying to tweak your picture by manually adjusting the Contrast, Color, Brightness, Sharpness and Tint can really be challenging, and rightfully intimidating. Thankfully, most TVs now have preset modes that optimize the screen for different kinds of content.

There’s likely a “Game” preset and a “Cinema” preset. Among them should be a “Sports” preset. If so, turn it on and watch some TV to see if you find it pleasing. If it works for you, then run with it. If not, try another preset. The only thing that matters is that you like the way the picture looks.

Don’t rule out the rabbit ears

Your home may be equipped with the latest and greatest digital cable system, but even the most high-tech subscription television services sometimes don’t provide as rich a high-definition feed as you can pick up with a digital antenna. Cable companies need to provide vast quantities of HD content, so they’re often required to compress the signals, which reduces both the picture and sound quality. Your local TV stations have more bandwidth to play with, and typically broadcast much richer content. If your goal is to achieve the best looking HD picture possible, it’s advisable to switch your TV over to its antenna mode, to see if you can pick up an over-the-air signal. External amplified digital antennas can often help you tune in a strong signal; however, not all geographical locations receive the equal quality reception, so your mileage may vary.

Pump up the volume

This football matchup is an over-the-top event to the utmost extreme, and the last thing you want to do is rely on the built-in speakers in your TV to deliver the audio. Whether it’s the dramatic sound of helmets and pads crashing together, or Beyoncé’s musical performance during halftime, you want to be able to hear everything in its oversized glory. The only way to go is to use an external speaker system. Picking up an A/V receiver and a full surround sound system is one option, but another way to go is to just pick up a soundbar. A soundbar is a wide and short rectangular speaker system that you place at the base of your TV. They’re nice because they add a lot of punch to your sound quality, yet they’re quick and easy to set up and get running.

Get into formation

Whether you’re mounting the TV to a wall or just putting it on top of a piece of furniture or a stand, be mindful not to position it too high up. Nothing’s worse than having to crane your neck in order to see the game. That spot on the mantle above the fireplace may seem like the most logical place for your TV, but if you have to tilt your head back as you sit in the couch, you may want to find a more comfortable place to put it. Similarly, speakers sound their best when positioned at the same height as your ears, so avoid placing them on the floor, or up to high.

Tap into the second screen

Once you have your main screen figured out, you should consider what a second screen could bring to the table. No, I’m not talking about setting up a smaller television in the bathroom, although that sounds like an interesting idea. The second screen in this case is a tablet computer. CBS is putting a lot of effort into their CBSsports.com website this year.

It’s designed to act as a second screen to complement the main broadcast. With a tablet in your lap, you’ll see real-time stats updates, and you’ll be able to access alternate angles of view of the game.

Start fresh with a new system

The big game isn’t an excuse to upgrade to a bigger TV set—it’s a legitimate and pressing need. Besides, the TV screen in your home is the game. It’s a larger-than-life event, so it’s fitting that it takes place on the biggest screen possible. If it happens to be time for you to upgrade your television, B&H offers numerous complete kits that take the guesswork out of pairing a great television with a great external speaker system. Each of the following kits were thoughtfully put together by our staff to provide you with everything you need to get up and running.

If you don’t need a massive screen, the Samsung UN46ES6100FXZA 46” Slim Smart LED HDT Advanced Kit is a great option. This bundle includes the Samsung HW-E450 Soundbar & Subwoofer Speaker System, a Pearstone Flat HDMI cable, a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable, and an APC P8V SurgeArrest 8-Outlet Surge Protector.

For a little more screen real estate you can go with the Samsung PN51E550 51” Class PDP 3D TV Advanced Kit, which also includes a Samsung HW-E450 Soundbar & Subwoofer Speaker System, a Pearstone Flat HDMI cable, a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable, and an APC P8V SurgeArrest 8-Outlet Surge Protector.

A really nice Sony TV bundle is the KDL46HX750 46” BRAVIA LED Internet 3D TV Advanced Kit, which includes a Sony HT-CT260 Surround Sound Speaker Bar & Wireless Subwoofer, a Pearstone Flat HDMI cable, a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable, and an APC P8V SurgeArrest 8-Outlet Surge Protector.

Larger living rooms would benefit from this Sharp LC-60LE640U AQUOS 60” 1080p LED Smart TV Advanced Kit, which comes with a Polk Audio SurroundBar6000 Instant Home Theater, a Pearstone Flat HDMI cable, a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable, and an APC P8V SurgeArrest 8-Outlet Surge Protector.

The Sony KDL55HX750 55” BRAVIA LED Internet 3D TV Advanced Kit comes with a Sony HT-CT260 Surround Sound Speaker Bar & Wireless Subwoofer, a Pearstone Flat HDMI cable, a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable, and an APC P8V SurgeArrest 8-Outlet Surge Protector.

Fans of plasma TVs will enjoy the Panasonic Smart Viera 50” Class GT50 Series Full HD Plasma 3D TV Advanced Kit, which includes the Energy Power Bar Soundbar Audio System with Wireless Subwoofer, a Pearstone Flat HDMI cable, a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable, and an APC P8V SurgeArrest 8-Outlet Surge Protector.

Really protect your investment with the APC H10 Home Theater Power Conditioner that’s included when you pick up the Panasonic TC-L47WT50 47” Smart Viera LED 3D TV Advanced Kit. A Panasonic SC-HTB550 Home Theater Sound Bar with Subwoofer, a Pearstone premium-braided HDMI cable and a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable are also included.

The LG Electronics 55LM6200 55” Smart Cinema 3D LED TV Advanced Kit includes a Yamaha YAS-201 Sound Bar & Wireless Active Subwoofer System, a Pearstone Flat HDMI cable, a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable, and an APC P8V SurgeArrest 8-Outlet Surge Protector.

Go premium with an APC-H10 Power Conditioner and a higher-end Boston Acoustics TVee Model 30 Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer with the Samsung UN55ES8000 55” Class Slim LED 3D TV Advanced Kit. A Pearstone premium-braided HDMI cable and a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable are also included.

The big game will look and sound incredible with the Sharp LC-70LE847U 70” AQUOS Quattron LED Smart 3D TV Advanced Kit, which comes with a Klipsch Gallery G-42 Soundbar, a Monster Power HDP 2500 PowerCenter, a Pearstone premium-braided HDMI cable and a Comprehensive XHD XD1 digital Toslink cable.

If you want to dig a little deeper into researching before you buy, B&H InDepth recently published a comprehensive article entitled Home Entertainment Televisions and Projectors, which is packed with relevant information on the topic. Another great way to gather information is to make a trip to the B&H SuperStore in New York City, where you can test-drive the latest TVs and sound systems in our Home Entertainment Department. If you won’t have the opportunity to make it to our store, you could always give us a call at 1-800-606-6969 and speak to a B&H Sales Professional, or you could communicate with us online in a live chat.