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Top Christmas gifts for home cinema dreamers: what to get true cinephiles

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Christmas gift guides

We're bringing you a tech-focused Christmas gift guide every day up to the big day itself, to help fuel your present buying inspiration.

Day 1: Apple fans | 2: Photographers | 3: Switch gamers | 4: Xbox gamers | 5: PS4 games | 6: Retro gamers | 7: PC gamers |  8: Lego fans | 9: Music lovers | 10: Mobile gamers | 11: Home cinema dreamers | 12: Home cooks | 13: Smart home starter kit | 14: Tech for kids |  15: Fitness fans | 16: Creatives | 17: Runners | 18: Commuters |  19: Pet owners | 20: Those who have everything

Struggling to think of the perfect Christmas gift for a friend or family member this year? Here at TechRadar we want to help out with your Christmas gift list.

If you're buying for an AV enthusiast – someone who really cares about the sight, sound, and overall experience of watching movies and TV at home – we've brought together the best Christmas gifts to consider to make their holiday season that bit more special.

So whether you're looking to help them get that bit more comfortable during late-night movie marathons, give a boost to their TV's tinny speakers, or do something exceptionally charitable – if a new television seems an appropriate stocking-filler to you – we've got your covered.

And don't worry, there are options for every budget, including some you can fit inside a Christmas stocking (streaming stick, anyone?). 

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Streaming Stick: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

A streaming stick for Netflix, Amazon Prime and more

4K resolution
Fantastic variety of content
Not cheapest model
UI biased towards Amazon

While streaming sticks were originally designed to connect 'dumb' TVs to online services, they've also become a popular option for anyone wanting to upgrade a clunky smart TV platform to something slicker, with wider app support – and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is a great bet, with support for 4K HDR streaming on compatible televisions, and a great user interface to boot. You can even fit it into a Christmas stocking, too!

Read the full review: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Premium streamer: Nvidia Shield TV

When a streaming stick just isn't enough

Premium 4K/HDR streaming
AI Upscaling
Pricey for a 4K streamer
No Apple TV app

Want to go that extra step further with your Christmas present? The Nvidia Shield TV is a premium 4K / HDR streaming device that will offer far superior performance to a regular old streaming stick.

You're paying a decent bit extra, but the AI upscaling and Tegra X1+ processor in the new 2019 models offer some real power for home streaming and gaming – helped by Nvidia's GeForce Now game streaming platform that's baked straight into the hardware.

Keep in mind that the Apple TV app – and, therefore, the Apple TV Plus streaming service – isn't supported on the Shield, but it's still a capable 4K streamer with far more chops than the streaming stick competition.

Read our full review: Nvidia Shield TV 2019

Panasonic 4K Blu-ray player

Image Credit: Panasonic

4K Blu-ray player: Panasonic DP-UB9000

The first 4K Blu-ray player to support HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision

Supported resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Smart TV: Yes | Dimensions: 430 x 81 x 300 mm | Weight: 7.8 kg | UHD Upscaling?: Yes | Wi-Fi?: Yes | 3D support?: Yes | HDR Formats supported: HDR10, HDR10+

Fantastic image quality
Four types of HDR support
No SACD or DVD-audio playback
CD playback isn't great

The DP-UB9000 is Panasonic’s latest flagship 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and, after Oppo started winding down its competing devices, the new model finds itself in one of the top spots in the high-end player market.

4K Blu-ray players are a brilliant choice for cinephiles, offering a way to play movies and TV boxsets without the fickle connection of home broadband or Wi-Fi, with the broad support for everything from old DVDs and CDs to high-spec Blu-ray discs. (No VHS, sadly.)

Panasonic's UB9000 model supports HDR10, its dynamic sibling HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision, making for universal HDR support. It has audiophile aspirations as well, sporting high quality DACs, two-channel and 7.1-channel analogue outputs, and Hi-Res Audio support. Toss in a host of smart features, and the UB9000 ticks nearly every box in the book. 

Read the full review: Panasonic DP-UB9000 review

best soundbar

(Image credit: Samsung)

Soundbar: Samsung HW-Q90R

Boost your audio with this Dolby Atmos soundbar

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
Easy to install and setup
Limited HDMI Inputs

Why a soundbar? Most smart TVs these days only output a limited volume and sound quality from their built-in speakers, and adding a soundbar or surround sound system is a brilliant way to make sure the noises are as good as what's being shown onscreen.

The Samsung HW-Q90R is perhaps the best of the lot, with support for premium surround sound formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and multi-directional speakers to make sure audio is being channeled in every direction. Tuning from Harman Kardon also means it's an excellent choice for music.

Read the full review: Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar review

headphones deal

(Image credit: Sony)

Bluetooth headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3

Keep the noise down with these Bluetooth headphones

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 23g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: 33 ft | NFC: Yes

Superb noise-cancelling
30-hour battery life
Call quality issues

It might not be immediately obvious, but over-ear headphones are a brilliant accessory for any TV buff. A huge number of televisions support Bluetooth these days, and slipping on over-ear cans like these means you can get all the action right in your ears instead of keeping the whole house (and some of the neighbours) awake your late-night movie marathons.

We picked the Sony WH-1000XM3 as one of the best all-around headphones, with great sound, built-in Google Assistant / Alexa support, and even noise-cancellation – in case you're trying to keep the sound of screaming toddlers, building work, or otherwise out while you enjoy your TV shows. The wireless capability means you can sit as far as you want from the TV, too.

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM3

Esme TV stand

Sleek design with curved edges

Looks great
Cabling may be visible

Don't have anything to put their TV on? It’s hard not to like Made.com’s incredibly fashionable furniture, and the Esme TV stand is as attractive as anything else it makes. 

With open-fronted shelving you've plenty of space to put streaming devices and other TV gadgetry with ample ventilation, while there’s lots of drawer space too for tucking away DVDs and games. An all-ash version is also available.

(Image credit: Philips)

Philips Ambilight TV (UK)

For someone who wants something truly different from their TV set, Philips' range of Ambilight TVs could be the perfect gift. You won't find them in North America, sadly, but these aesthetically-minded sets should stand out in any living room with their Ambilight projection technology, which will throw onscreen colors onto the wall behind the television, adding a sense of ambience and atmosphere that other televisions simply can't provide.