Do you like to watch football? How about the biggest game of the year — which happens on February 4 (aka this Sunday)? If yes to either of these, then you’re in luck: I can tell you how to get the most out of the experience via connected smart home tech, gadgets and AV equipment. Set “indulge” mode to MAX.
There are plenty of TV options out there for your viewing pleasure, but the one that takes the cake in my opinion is the Sony Bravia A1E 65-inch 4K OLED HDR Smart TV. Why? Because it’s the smartest television around, in terms of how it makes use of tech, and that goes way beyond its Android TV-based OS (though that’s nice, too).
Part of the smarts come from Sony’s X1 chip, which is a dedicated image processor in the television that’s responsible for its unbeatable upscaling prowess. I immediately noticed that no matter the source resolution of the content I was playing on the Sony TV, the picture looked far, far better than it did anywhere else. Sony says this is because it’s using the chip to rebuild the image pixel-by-pixel, and using a reference library of thousands of 4K images taken from Sony’s extensive library of film and TV studio content to do that rebuilding intelligently, instead of just having to take a guess based on surrounding pixels, as other TV makers do.
The X1 also helps out with the unique in-panel speaker that Sony uses on this television, which literally turns the entire surface of the TV into an audio output device. It helps positionally track faces on the screen, so that when people speak, including from your favorite sideline commentators, their voices actually seem to be coming from their mouths. It’s so good, you might want to opt for that instead of your surround system, but more on that below.
Ultimately, this isn’t the cheapest TV out there (even among OLED models) but its picture quality is unmatched thanks to Sony’s tech, especially if you’re using a streaming signal (like the free one NBC is making available this year for watching the game).
A good setup needs a good remote, and the Logitech Harmony Companion paired with the Harmony Hub is pretty much exactly what you need for smart home control, including AV equipment like the TV above, as well as various smart devices like those listed below.
Logitech’s whole Harmony lineup is good for this, but the Harmony Companion + Hub bundle has the advantage of being full-featured and capable, while also not breaking the bank. The Hub is key for making sure all your smart home devices can be controlled (including via Google Assistant through Android running on the Sony TV, or also via Alexa), and the Companion remote is an uncomplicated affair, without the power draw of an integrated display, but with a bunch of flexibility thanks to being able to assign different activities to long and short presses of the various activity buttons.
It ships with not only the Hub, but also two IR extenders in the box, which make it easy to establish setups for both open- and closed-cabin AV stack installations. Setup of the software and app is also super easy, and can be done entirely on your smartphone — which becomes another controller using the app, too.
Philips Hue is still the smart light brand to beat, in my opinion, and they work great with Google Assistant, as well as Alexa and the Harmony remote. You can easily brighten the room with a voice command for when you’re taking a break for wings or nachos, and then darken the room again when halftime’s over and the main show is once again the focus of everyone’s attention.
Using stuff like IFTTT, or even preset smart device scenes with Google Assistant, you can trigger different lighting for different events — like color-coded touchdowns, for instance.
As mentioned above, the Sony Bravia OLED TV has speakers integrated into its screen surface that sound amazing, and work great with things like sports and commentary, but if you want to add a little more connected magic to the mix, there are a couple of good options in this category.
Sonos speakers are a great addition to a home theater, especially if you’re already invested in the system. You can craft a home theater sound setup using their Playbase and Playbar, and add a subwoofer for bass, too. But if you’re already super committed to Google Assistant and Chromecast (which is built-in to the TV), you can also pick up Riva’s Festival and Arena speakers, which have Chromecast features built in.
The benefit of that is that you can set them up in group and have the game-day audio broadcast around the house: That way, even in the kitchen or the bathroom, you’re still going to be able to hear all the action as it goes down. And again, you can control all this using voice commands with your TV remote or smartphone.
The post-game game
Once the game is done, or if you’re not interested in watching Justin Timberlake perform at halftime, the best way to occupy that time is to virtually experience your own Super Bowl at home by firing up Madden 18 on the big screen. The Xbox One X version is fully set for 4K HDR displays, so it’s the perfect pairing if you’re using the TV above or another one with those resolution and quality capabilities.