We’re just a few short days away from the big game — and that means you need to get your home entertainment lineup into formation, making some last-minute substitutions and maybe even adding a few new players to the mix.
While it might seem last minute, it’s still easy to upgrade or even create an ultimate home theater setup to watch the big game to its fullest. Luckily, we spend hundreds of hours and many months testing the latest and greatest to find the best of the best. We even have individual guides breaking out the best TVs, soundbars and streaming boxes. But here we’re going to break out the best picks across those to give you the ultimate big game setup.
Streaming sticks and devices
A streaming box or stick might be the most crucial piece of tech this big game — especially if you’ve decided to cut the cord with a cable subscription. It not only gives you a couple of ways to stream the big game, but it will last for many months beyond that one night. Depending on your device of choice, you’ll get up to full 4K resolution and access to thousands of streaming services.
These three went the distance in our testing:
At just $49.99, the Chromecast with Google TV is a full-fledged streaming stick. It has a remote, supports a ton of streaming services and presents content in up to 4K HDR. Loading different apps and services is quick and painless. Plus, with the addition of a dedicated remote, you’re no longer forced to share your personal phone or tablet with friends and family in order for them to stream their favorite show or movie to your TV.
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box, adding Dolby Vision HDR support and improved Wi-Fi performance. This is the fastest streaming device Roku has released and it outpaces the many sticks and dongles. Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K. It’s the perfect cross-section of value and performance for most consumers.
For an extra $80, the Apple TV 4K takes things a bit further. It similarly upscales content to 4K UHD quality with support for HDR but steps that up a few notches with support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, which work with supported content to increase highlights and contrast.
We just wrapped another round of testing TVs, and our two top picks deliver serious immersion and let you see all the details. Better yet, there’s something available at every price point.
The TCL 5-Series won us over for its combination of uncompromising picture quality and built-in smarts at an all-too-attractive price point. It delivers a full 4K experience on a screen unfettered by distractingly thick bezels, a problem we found with many sub-$1,000 models. Content looks vibrant without veering into cartoonish-level saturation. There are also thousands of streaming services at your fingertips support for various content standards and smart home integration.
For those willing and able to spend top dollar, the Sony A8H delivers unrivaled picture quality. The TV is OLED, which means the panel is made up of pixels that individually emit a color to create a sharper image. The Sony A8H boasts a broad range of colors and supports an array of picture standards that automatically upscale and improve the quality of content, and the result is an exceptionally vibrant and detailed picture.
Like TVs, we have two top picks when it comes to soundbars, both of which deliver room-filling sound in a build that doesn’t distract from the TV.
The Smart Soundbar from Roku is a combo soundbar and 4K streaming box that boasts four speakers delivering clear audio that makes whatever you’re watching sound great. This compact and nondescript build is far less distracting than others while also providing easy pairing with devices to play audio however you like with smart features like Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2 and multiple audio modes.
If you’re looking to get the best, near-theater-like audio quality from a soundbar, then the $799 Sonos Arc is your best option. Its 11 speakers are all angled differently, pushing out audio in various directions to deliver a surround sound feel. Most impressively, TruePlay maps the room to deliver the best sound mix.