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Super Bowl XXXIX in Hi-Def

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Chances are if you work anywhere that sells TV’s, you’ve been busy for the past few weeks with the Super Bowl being such a huge selling point. Fox did a fine job presenting the game in Hi-Def to all those who bought new sets and to those who have one for a while. Toss in Dolby 5.1 support and it seems like Fox lives up to their claims of being the worlds best standard, but misfires were noticeable.

Presented in 720p, every single individual hair on the players faces when up close and you could easily read the names on their jerseys when zoomed out. The clarity of the presentation could easily sell a few sets. Though not particularly used effectively, it’s refreshing to see football in widescreen allowing viewers to see a few extra yards downfield on the truly archaic side view that needs to be dropped for a behind-the-quarterback point of view.

Fox tried a few new (and completely useless) camera vides this year. One of them was placed inside the end zone pylon. Not only was it not useful at any given point, it wasn’t hi-def. Yes, it’s impossible for such a small camera to be actually be hi-def capable, but the effect was jarring switching from such a brilliant, pristine, picture to something that looked like it was being picked up by rabbit ears. New cameras are fine even if they can’t produce the same signal, but at least let them serve a purpose if you’re going to try it.

Commercials were a definite annoyance, constantly switching aspect ratios making for jarring viewing. Worse, some of them, especially movie trailers, were not anamorphic. It’s awful to see a trailer in a small square in the center of the screen surrounded by nothing. Since these are a major part of the game (surely a large portion watches just for the ads) and should match the rest of the broadcast.

The sound wasn’t all that solid either, at least for the first half. During and after the halftime show, things really did pick up. Surrounds were used effectively to envelope viewers and put them in the stadium, something that just wasn’t there early on. There was plenty of subtle audio to be picked up as well, especially on-field chatter. There was nice movement when the camera went into the commentator’s booth as all of the crowd noise switched entirely over to the rear speakers. It was a great move that adds a little extra something.

Those who have become early adopters got a really nice presentation of such a major event. It’s obvious the technology is new and until the inevitable turn over occurs (2006? Not likely), this is how it’s going to be. The few minor annoyances were hardly enough to even put a dent in the overall presentation (the commercial issue is small as long as the game itself holds up) so credit goes to Fox for setting a high standard.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://www.iamcorrect.blogspot.com Lono

    I am not high def, but after a good deal of tweaking my surround receiver settings I found terrific enveloping sound… best of any football game this year. What I didn’t realize was how carried away I got. When I turned the game off at the end, and the room was quiet… my ears were ringing.

  • Eric Olsen

    we got a hi-def big screen about a month ago so this was our first big live event and it was a blast with the surround and everyone running around right in your face. I had it loud as hell by the end of the game as well, and then you turn it off and go “whoa, that was a little excessive.”

    I really enjoy your semi-technical reviews Matt since you know so much more about it than I do, but explain very understandably. Thanks!