February 04, 2011, 10:29 AM — Super Bowl Sunday is one of the best reasons to own an HDTV. There's nothing like watching the big game on a large, high-definition screen in the company of family and friends. To make sure you get the most out of your set, we asked several vendors to share their best tips for optimal viewing, and here's what they told us.
Choose Between Plasma and LCD
If you have to choose between watching the game on a plasma TV or an LCD TV, keep the usual plasma versus LCD technology differences (as they apply to sports) in mind. Generally plasma is less prone to producing artifacts in fast-moving action, although today's LCDs use frame-interpolation technology to help minimize any problems (which may or may not do the trick on live sports for reasons we'll get to later). Plasmas are best for a large crowd, too, since they offer the best field of vision--they look good from the side. But plasmas can't match LCD sets in brightness, so if you're watching in a very bright room, LCD is the way to go.
Consider Using Rabbit Ears
Even if you normally receive everything through a cable or satellite TV service, you might actually get the best picture from an over-the-air signal--assuming that you can get one at all. The reason is that over-the-air signals are the purest ones available: Cable and satellite companies compress and decompress their video feeds, which inevitably degrades the quality (although it's not always notable).
Pump Up the Brightness of Your HDTV in Bright Rooms
On the West Coast, the Super Bowl starts in the afternoon when it's still light, and if you're throwing (or attending) a Super Bowl party, the room will likely be well lit no matter where you are. The brighter the ambient lighting, the brighter you want the screen image to be for it to hold its own visually. If your set has a sports preset, or any other preset intended for daytime viewing, use it. Otherwise, you can manually adjust the brightness and contrast settings; if your LCD TV has a backlight setting, or your plasma TV has a cell light setting, turn it up. But don't go overboard--you don't want the image to be so bright that all detail disappears.
Conversely, if you are watching in low-light conditions, don't make the set too bright: You'll see more detail, especially in shadows, if you use a preset intended for movies, for example. In general, opt for a room with less light rather than more. You never want to watch a TV with direct sunlight shining on it.
Adjust the Color Saturation and Temperature