But every buying guide should have its constraints so let’s make this one’s the cost of a Super Bowl ticket. Sure, you won’t be able to attend the big game in person but the cash you would've used for a ticket could hugely upgrade your home theater setup to deliver a stellar experience come game time.
Not only is this more practical than figuring out plane flights and hotel stays ahead of the biggest sporting event of year, but those home theater updates will last a helluva lot longer than the three hours you'd spend sitting in the stands at NRG Stadium in Houston.
So, just what could you buy for the cost of one measly Super Bowl ticket?
What you could buy for half the cost of a ticket
But let’s start with something reasonable. Realistically most of us aren’t flying out to Houston on Super Sunday is because we honestly can’t afford it.
That being said, let's start with a more reasonable amount: $1,450, or roughly half the cost of a ticket to the Super Bowl before you factor in the plane flights, hotel fees, beers and snacks at the game.
That’s not exactly chump change, but it’s way more than enough to get your new home theater setup up and running. For now, let’s focus on the three essentials: a TV, a sound system and a streaming video player.
Samsung UN55KS8000 4K HDR TV ($1,000): It’s not hard to find a good TV for under $1,000. I could pick them out in my sleep. What is tricky however is picking out a great TV for under $1,000. If you’re looking for a senior-level screen at a freshman-level price, your best bet is the 55-inch version of the Samsung KS8000. It’s 4K, supports HDR10 and has an input lag of about 20.9ms, perfect for when it’s time to break out Madden after the game ends.
Samsung HW-J355 Sound Bar ($130): OK, with the biggest purchase out of the way, now we can start thinking about sound. As much as I love the KS8000, it doesn’t have the best sound quality in the world. For that, you’re going to need a soundbar. Samsung's HW-J355 is one of the best-selling soundbars, and for good reason. Not only does it offer good sound quality from its four combined-120W tweeters, but also comes with a wired subwoofer to add some meat to the sound.
Nvidia Shield Android TV ($199): There are a ton of streaming video players for under $200 – , , … the list goes on and on. But as great as those other streaming players are, only the can do both 4K HDR video streaming AND play PC-quality games. Talk about a win-win.
What you could buy for the cost of a single ticket
Let’s up our game here. Say you had the money to spend on a Super Bowl ticket and didn’t want to shell out last minute to go down to Texas.
If you actually had the $2,875 you would’ve spent on a ticket there are plenty of ways to spend it on a home theater system, from an awesome new TV to a great game system, even adding on a full surround sound package into the mix.
If I were in your cleats, here’s how I’d spend it.
Sony BRAVIA XBR-55X930D ($1,299): Sony’s XBR-X930D series are probably some of the best non-OLED TVs you can buy. I love them because they have an astounding picture quality and great contrast ratio. A huge part of this is thanks to Sony’s Slim Backlight Drive technology. You’ll hear more about it in a minute (spoiler: Sony’s Z-Series is my top draft pick) but it does amazing things for this TV. On top of everything else, you’ll get Android TV built right in, meaning you’ve got a smart TV that’s bound to get even smarter as the years go on.
Samsung HW-K950 Soundbar with Dolby Atmos ($1,299): If you have the money, the best place to spend it in audio is on a Dolby Atmos soundbar. I’ve written about Atmos extensively for awhile now and while I could go on a John Madden-esque exposition of why it’s so good, I’ll just say that it’s a complete game-changer for sound quality. Instead of a tradition 7.1 system that can only process sound on a flat plane, an Atmos soundbar utilizes upfiring speakers to bounce sound off the ceiling to create a 360-degree sphere of sound.
Xbox One S - 500GB System ($259): But a truly sweet sound system and television need truly sweet content. Enter the Xbox One S, the first and only game console to support Dolby Atmos sound, HDR10 and 4K Blu-rays. With a massive online community and a strong catalog of titles, this is the system to beat in 2017.
What you could buy for the cost of two tickets
One last scenario: Let's say you had two tickets to one of the most memorable, influential sporting events of our era, and you thought, "You know what? I'm going to sell these online at the going rate, so I can buy tons of electronics that will probably last another 7 to 8 years before they go obsolete and I either put them in a guest room – [because you own one of those] – or donate them, just like I did my CRT TV 10 years ago."
Now, to some, that might sound like crazy talk, but, to a true A/V enthusiast, nothing sounds more sane. Here's how to spend your ludicrous sums of money before someone you love has you thrown into the insane asylum for giving up a chance of a lifetime.
LG 65-inch E6 OLED ($3,195): If you want to one-up the neighbor that always buys the latest and greatest gadgets ahead of you, look no further than LG's line of OLED TVs that display tone-perfect blacks, bright whites and over 1 billion colors in between. These TVs are downright gorgeous and thanks to some incredible upscaling technology make darn near anything look beautiful.
Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-280FA floorstanding speaker ($959, $3,836 for four): You know what you need? Four really big, really loud speakers. At nearly $1,000 apiece, the powerful, crisp RP-280FAs with ceiling-firing Dolby Atmos speakers will do the trick.
Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-450CA center channel speaker ($679): Looking for the extra point for those gigantic floor speakers? Check out the RP-450CA center channel speaker. But the audio package isn't complete just yet.
Learn more about both speakers at Klipsch.com
Denon AVR-X7200WA 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD A/V Receiver ($3,000): At this point, I realize I took us way over the budget. But, let's be honest, if you can afford to drop $5,500 on two tickets to the big game, you can probably afford this, too.
Oculus Rift VR Headset ($599): Thus far I've only been able to get you as close as I can to the 2D version of the gridiron. Now it's time to start thinking in 3D. If you have any money leftover after this epic home entertainment binge, you should spend it on an Oculus Rift – a virtual reality headset that promises to one day revolutionize entertainment. It may not be the way the world prefers to watch this year's Super Bowl but, give it a few years, and you can bet this is how we'll be watching Super Bowls 60 and beyond.
How would you spend two Super Bowl tickets worth of money? Let us know in the comments below!