Ready for Sunday's Big Game with Your Flat Screen TV?

Viewers of the Super Bowl will populate living rooms up and down the Peninsula this weekend. Will you be running 1080p or 720p?


I know, I know.

The 49ers are not in the Big Game. 

Yeah, "Big Game" because I'm not supposed to say S***r B**l; something about copyright, and the NFL. Well, more precisely, if I were advertising a related product, I couldn't say it. Unless I really want to pay some high royalties.

One way or the other, regardless of the fact the game carries more interest on I-95 than on I-280, lots of San Mateo County folks will be watching television on Sunday come about 3:00 p.m. our time.

And that's why I'm writing.

This isn't going to be a sports article. I'm not going to speculate on Alex Smith's future. Nor am I going to mention the name of the poor 49er that twice fumbled against the Giants; he feels badly enough already.

Instead, I'm going to step away from all that, and try to throw out (first pun) some ideas for those of us ready to tackle (second) a semi-tough afternoon of tv watching, and think about a way to kick (third) the habit of watching the Super Bowl on a television that's - frankly - too small to capture in all their glory the big plays of the...ahem...Big Game.

When big screen tvs first appeared on scene back in the 1990's, their purchase price was so astronomical it made a lot more sense to rent if you were hosting a Super Bowl Party. Who could afford a $5000 projection television in their house, tvs that had separated illuminators projecting red, green and blue-colored images onto a screen, images that were constantly in need of alignment?

But hey. Back in the day...rent one of those big boys, get the delivery people to set it up for you, and faster than you could blurt out "Cheetos!" with your mouth full, you were ready for the guests to come over.

These days, the Super Bowl tv-rental business is, well, it's not what it used to be. One Super Tradition nixed.

Why? Well, go online and Google "TV rental Bay Area". You'll almost immediately find AvistaRentals, with three locations, and the promise to deliver to you for this weekend if you're in our county. But gosh. To rent that 60-inch LG for the weekend? That's right. $449.95, plus tax. And don't forget: "Delivery, Setup and Pickup rates start at $125 for many Bay Area locations." Ouch.

A 60-inch Panasonic Viera Plasma HDTV is on sale this week at Target for $1,099. Watch two Super Bowls on the set, and you're already dollars ahead. Not to mention the viewing pleasure 51 other weekends may bring. And the 261 days between those weekends.

If your goal this weekend is to score (yes, sorry, another one) a big-screen tv, you won't be alone out there on the showroom floor. You see, that couple of weeks prior to the Big Game is usually good as gold for retailers (though there are some indications things may be slowing down this year due to HDTV consumer fatigue.)

According to the marketing group NDP, "In 2011, sales of TVs with screen sizes 40 inches and above grew 12 percent and LCD sets over 50 inches increased 53 percent compared to the same week in 2010. The continued focus on bigger screens...suggests 2012 will hold the same trend."

Where are the bargains? 

Well, before you head to the Best Buy/Frys/Video Only/Sears/Target/K Mart store nearest you, a couple of websites offer some hints:

HD Guru finds a deal on a Panasonic 60" set that may be better than the set found at Target. The Panasonic they feature in "The Hottest Pre-Super Bowl HDTV Deals" is a Smart TV which allows you to stream movies from Amazon and Netflix. It's on sale for $999, through Amazon. According to the HD Guru website "Plasma TVs have the widest viewing angle, far exceeding LED and LCD, making it the perfect choice for Super Bowl parties. Everyone, no matter where they sit or stand sees the same great picture."

PC Magazine jumps into the world of pixels and announces "7 Awesome HDTV Deals for the Super Bowl." There, a Samsung 51-inch 3D HDTV is highlighted, listing for $1,329.99. The feature goes on to note: PCMag Junior Analyst Will Greenwald says if you're set on getting a plasma screen, "this is the plasma to get."

Think twice about the Samsung, though, if you're buying a 3D set to watch the new technology during the game.

NBC-TV, which is this year broadcasting the American tradition, chose not to present the game in 3D, disappointing many consumers who have taken the 3D plunge.

Last year, Fox TV made the same 'No on 3D' decision.

Popular Mechanics Magazine seems happy with the choice. In Why We're Glad the Super Bowl Isn't in 3D the long-time source for gadget-types lists five reasons 3D would not be a good idea. Reason #3:

  • The Length

Four hours is a really, really long time to watch anything in 3D. We recently tried watching 3D TV for this long, and we emerged from the test with eye strain, nausea and a general lack of joviality. Mix this nausea with Super Bowl staples such as chips, beer, pizza and Buffalo wings, and you have a recipe for disaster—or at least an unfortunate mess.

Now, you may want to do your own online searching for Super Bowl deals. In fact, I'd encourage it.

If you do, Consumer Reports has some good advice: "Super Bowl" TV deals not so super? Try searching for the "Big Game". It all goes back to what I said earlier; copyright and dollars for using those two special words.

Many of us, thankfully, already have our sets in place. We're not renting, we're not buying. We're simply looking for what couch-cushion the remote is hidden beneath.

And if you'd really like the sharpest, clearest, tonel-pure, chroma-intensive, white-balanced, spectrum-enhancing picture possible, head back to HD Guru for some tips on setting up that behemoth in a way that'll make you feel like you're on the sideline.

Despite the fact our 49ers are not.


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