If you just purchased a new display to see the Superbowl in glorious HDTV here are some useful tips to enjoy the best viewing experience.

There are three possible ways to see the game in High Definition

Cable (including phone companies such as ATT and Verizon Fios)



If you subscribe to Cable TV, you should also have a high definition set top box supplied by your cable provider. If you do, make sure it is connected to one of the two available high definition interfaces, HDMI or component video, otherwise the signal will not be in HD.

HDMI is the preferred HDTV connection, as some TVs do not provide as sharp as a picture with a component video connection. If you need to run out to get an HDMI cable locally first try your nearest Wal-Mart, K Mart or Target, according to their respective websites, they have HDMI 6ft cables available at selected stores for under $20. If you go to Best Buy or Circuit City, they will charge you a rip-off $79.99 for a six-footer. If you have no choice and must purchase an eighty dollar cable, get one, and order a second one for as little as $2.11 (plus shipping) from Amazon.com. When the cable arrives in the mail in a few days, simply return the overpriced one to the retailer you purchased from. I have no problem with retailers making a buck; but in this case, eighty dollars is excessive.

Over an HDMI cable the signal is digital. The picture you will see on screen will either be perfect or if not it black, (or with intermittent blackouts possibly sparkles). You cannot get a sharper image with a “better” cable, regardless of what the store salesman tells you. By the way I have yet to see any 6 ft HDMI cable that did not work perfectly, my experience includes a number of cheapo ones. There is more to this topic, you can refer to an earlier article at hdguru.com/?p=12

Once you have the cable and cablebox are connected you must make sure you have the proper settings on the box and the HDTV.

For the HDTV, you first need to select the input number on the HDTV which is connected to your HDMI or component video cable. Next, make sure the HDTVs aspect ratio is in the “Full” mode.

You will get a better HDTV image, if you change the general picture mode from the showroom “out of the box” setting (it usually reads Vivid or Dynamic depending on the make) to Movie or Custom and lower the contrast (often labeled as “Picture”) control to 50%-60% of maximum.

With these basic adjustments you need to make sure your set top cable satellite box is set to output the signal in HDTV. There are two choices 720p and 1080i. Superbowl XLII is on Fox meaning it is broadcast in 720p. If your HDTV display is 720p you may simply set the output of the box to 720p, if it is a 1080i or 1080p set, you can choose 1080i and the HDTV will automatically convert to that rate. If you not sure what you set native display is, adjust the set top box’s output to 1080i because all HDTVs accept this signal, some sets will not accept 720p signals (you can always try the other setting at another time).

Also make sure the cable box is set for a 16:9 display, otherwise the image will be distorted.

What If You Just Got A New HDTV and Don’t Have an HDTV Cable Box?

If you are a cable subscriber you may still be in luck. Most recent HDTVs have tuners that will accept an unencrypted HDTV cable signal. Here is how to connect.

You will need to take the cable from the wall and screw it into antenna/cable input in the back of the set (it is usually labeled ANT). Follow the set makers instructions to select cable signal (versus over-the-air, digital cable signals are also called QAM) and let the HDTV’s tuner scan all the channels as per your owner’s manual. The HDTV will display all the unencrypted cable channels, but you will need to manually check each one (use the Channel up or + button) to find the local FOX channel because many cable systems may not match the over the air channel numbers, i.e. your local HD FOX station may be 5 or 5-1 or 5.1 but with a cable signal it may be a completely different number such as 79.3.

If you don’t have cable or a HDTV satellite set top box or cable TV you can run out to your local Radio Shack an purchase an inexpensive indoor TV antenna and connect it to the ANT input on you TV, and aim the antenna it in the direction of the FOX transmitter tower in your area. Next, set your HDTV to over-the-air tuning, scan in the local channels and see if you get local FOX HD channel. If you are within 20 miles of the transmitter and have flat terrain between you and the broadcast tower, you may be in luck.

Enjoy the game.

Copyright ©2008 Gary Merson/HD Guru™. All rights reserved. The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.