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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

If you're not up on the latest AV tech, buying the best Christmas gifts for home cinema enthusiasts can be a daunting prospect. That's why us kind folk at TechRadar are here to help.

Put simply, they're going to want to type of thing that'll help them replicate the exceptional sights and sounds of the cinema in their front rooms. That means only the very best screens, speakers, and furnishings, which is why we've suggested the best gifts available below.

But, naturally, this can all get a bit expensive. That's why we've included recommendations from a wide variety of price brackets, from streaming sticks that turn so-called 'dumb' TVs into hubs of entertainment, to the best soundbars they can stick beneath their big screen.

The following list caters to AV fanatics in all sorts of ways: it'll get them hooked up with a wide range of entertainment services, solutions to tinny, unsatisfying speakers, and fine furniture that'll match their premium devices.

So, to help ensure this year's movie marathons, binge sessions of The Crown, and a smattering of Christmas musicals – it's got to be done – are better than ever, here are the best Christmas AV gifts your home cinema-owning friends and family will love.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Streaming Stick: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

A streaming stick for Netflix, Amazon Prime and more

Reasons to buy
+4K resolution+Fantastic variety of content
Reasons to avoid
-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

Reasons to buy
+Premium 4K/HDR streaming+AI Upscaling
Reasons to avoid
-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 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

Specifications
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+
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic image quality+Four types of HDR support
Reasons to avoid
-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

sonos arc

(Image credit: Future)

Soundbar: Sonos Arc

Redefining the laws of surround sound

Reasons to buy
+Dolby Atmos, TrueHD, and Dolby Digital Plus+Amazing all-in-one surround sound
Reasons to avoid
-Limited Smart Assistant integration-Trueplay Tuning is iOS only-Works best with specific room shapes

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 Sonos Arc is perhaps the best of the lot, because it's effectively both. It offers support for Dolby Atmos, TrueHD, and Dolby Digital Plus, without the need for supplementary speakers. It's revolutionary tech, but it depends on the shape of room you have: it should be squarish and not too large for the best experience. If your giftee's cinema room isn't that, they can always invest in further Sonos speakers to enhance their soundscape further.

Read the full review: Sonos Arc

sony xm4

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Bluetooth headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4

Keep the noise down with these Bluetooth headphones

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 254g
Cable length: N/A
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Driver type: 40mm
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: 47ohms
Battery life: 30 hours
Wireless range: 10m
NFC: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Superb noise-cancelling+30-hour battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Call quality could be better

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 neighbors) awake your late-night movie marathons.

We picked the Sony WH-1000XM4 as one of the best all-around headphones, with great sound, built-in Google Assistant / Alexa support, multipoint pairing, and excellent noise-cancelation – 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-1000XM4

Esme TV stand

Sleek design with curved edges

Reasons to buy
+Looks great
Reasons to avoid
-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.

Read more: Should I buy a Philips Ambilight TV?

Henry St Leger

As Home Cinema Editor, Henry lives and breathes televisions, which is bad for the lungs but great for his content addiction. He also reports on VR, video games, smart speakers, and home entertainment.