Super Electronics For a Super Bowl

This year’s gear scores a touchdown any time of the year

Making the most of the biggest sporting event of the year no longer means having the biggest, baddest screen on the block. Football fans and Super Bowl dilettantes alike are looking to reach out and expand the social aspect of fandom beyond the living room.

This year, in addition to state-of-the-art flat screens and sound systems, retailers need to acknowledge the networking trend with gadgets that connect viewers to Facebook friends, streaming online services, and mobile apps that integrate home video and audio gear with smartphones and tablets.

Whether it’s indignation at a blown call or celebratory shout-outs when their team scores, football fans want to share the games not only with those around them, but with friends and family miles away. This leads to the increased use of second screens—like tablets—so that viewers can follow friends’ comments on Facebook, or trends on Twitter, while watching the game.

There are a glut of devices that now reflect the public’s continuing fascination—some would say addiction—to social networking. There are Android tablets like the Google Nexus 7 (starting at $199), as well as Apple’s phenomenal iPad (starting at $499). Most CE companies also have new apps for smartphones this year that turn the handsets into remote controls. So attracting buyers to new A/V equipment means that sales people must demonstrate how tablets and smartphones work with the latest gear.

Of course, the big game still means getting a big screen. So it’s no surprise that the other major trend this season is the move to larger LCD panel sizes. As prices drop, screen sizes are going up to maintain margins, and consumers are following the trend. Eschewing 3D features, shoppers are looking instead for bigger sets.

According to the Monthly TFT LCD Shipment Database, the average size TV has increased by two inches this year. So where a 32-inch set was once fine for the bedroom, some shoppers are now moving up to 40-inch models. For the living room, a 42-inch or even 47-inch set is no longer sufficient, with buyers opting for 50-inch or larger sets. By Black Friday, several 60-inch LCD panels are expected to break the $1,000 barrier.

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