Best Christmas gifts for movie geeks
A DVD of Miracle on 34th Street? Cut! Discs are dead, and the movie aficionado in your life just got harder to please.
What all film fans really want is more time to watch the latest blockbusters and the age-old classics, but in lieu of that we've rounded-up some must-have gear to boost pictures, sound and streaming this festive season. From devices and vouchers that give instant access to apps and their vast catalogues of films to stream to tablet, phone or TV, to the latest soundbars, 4K Ultra HD TVs and projectors that create an instant home cinema experience. There are plenty of ways to add a twist to Christmas this year.
We've also included a double bill of gadgets that let the cinematically inclined take downloaded videos away with them in style, with a device that props-up as well as powers a phone or tablet, and as a finale, a pair of noise-cancelling earphones to shut-out the din of commuting and, most importantly of all, Christmas itself.
NOW TV Sky Movies Month Pass
There's a lot of talk about Netflix and Amazon Instant killing DVD rentals, but it's not that simple. Both are way down the movie release window list compared to Sky TV, which adds about 15 brand new movies per month to its NOW TV streaming service. The NOW TV Sky Movies Month Pass also comes with a cheeky bonus; since there's a free 30-day trial as default, redeeming it (on a phone, tablet, PC, laptop or via a NOW TV box kick-starts two months of on-demand and live Sky Movies.
Where to buy: Gift Cloud
Yamaha YSP1400 digital sound projector
Audio really is half the experience, but for most of us home cinema can be a stretch, both financially and in terms of space; does anyone really have a spare room to flood with cables and AV gear? Step forward the compact yet powerful Yamaha YSP1400, a digital sound projector (that's a posh soundbar to you) with 10 separate digital amplifiers, two subwoofers, and a control app for both iOS and Android devices. It's also got Bluetooth for streaming the odd movie soundtrack compilation to the TV from a phone or tablet.
Where to buy: Richer Sounds
Logitech Harmony Hub
Universal remotes are a great idea that never caught on. The smartphone took over, but to truly have mastery of a home cinema or a home ents set-up requires some help. Cue the Harmony Hub and accompanying Harmony App, which essentially turn your smartphone into a universal remote that can control up to eight devices.
Works with Apple TV, Roku, Sonos, Xbox, PlayStation, and all kinds of AV gear.
Where to buy: Amazon
Techlink Recharge 12000
For commuters and frequent flyers, on trains and planes is where a lot of movie-watching is done. Having a battery to top-up a phone or tablet while on the road is essential, but the Techlink Recharge 12000 goes one step further.
As well as having a gap to store an Apple Lightning or micro USB cable, there's a flick-up dock that supports a phone or tablet at the perfect viewing position for movies. At 12000mAh, it will recharge a phone five times over, and a tablet at least twice – and simultaneously, too.
Where to buy: Apple
TotalMount Pro mount for Apple TV
Does anyone need Apple TV? Probably not, but anyone with an iPhone or iPad will love it on pure celluloid appeal. As well as top-line movies to stream, the instant streaming of video from an iPhone or iPad via Airplay is irresistible.
However, so small and sleek is Apple TV that it rarely gets into the AV rack, instead slung under a TV to clutter-up the desktop stand. Cue the TotalMount Pro mount, which puts its passenger on the rear of a TV out of sight, and also includes a small remote control holder/charger.
Where to buy: Apple
ViewSonic LightStream PJD7830HDL
Movies are all about the big screen, but in the collective rush to buy flatscreen TVs the humble projector has been overlooked. There are legion projectors in the 'good value' category, but few are as bright (at 3200 Lumens) and none are are as loud as this Full HD beamer.
Yes, the PJD7830HDL has built-in speakers, and at 16W they're uniquely skilled. Easy to set-up so perfect for a quick movie in any room, the PJD7830HDL has a couple HDMI inputs, so is the perfect partner to a Blu-ray player or games console.
Where to buy: Amazon
Philips 55PUT6400 4K Android TV
Marrying the two biggest trends in home cinema – Ultra HD 4K and streaming – this 55-inch LED TV makes a play for being the best value bigscreen telly, too. As well as featuring the 3840x2160 pixels that the new Ultra HD 4K revolution promises (and Freeview HD for good measure), the 55PUT6400 also includes Android TV, a treasure trove of Google Play apps, YouTube and Google Cast.
Roku 3500EU streaming stick
Why buy a new smart TV when streamers like the Roku exist? Perfectly formed and perfectly affordable, Roku is a stick that plugs into any TV's HDMI slot, attaches to WiFi, then delivers more apps (over 1,000) than either a Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV stick offers. It's all controlled by either a remote control or a smartphone app.
Netflix Gift Card
Dodge monthly subscription fees with this pay-as-you-go gift card for the world's most popular streaming service. There are millions of people subscribing to Netflix but thanks to its non-contract service you don't have to sign away your life in return. As well as a host of movies - and now original films, like Beasts of No Nation - there's a huge selection of cinematic TV shows too.
Scratch the panel on the back, enter the PIN into a Netflix account here, and the credit can then be used for regular monthly fees all the way through to the Netflix 4K services.
Where to buy: Tesco
Bose QuietComfort 20/20i noise-cancelling earphones
For movie fans with kids, noisy neighbours, or who travel a lot, noise-cancelling tech is a must. However, the usual headphones from Sony, Harmon Kardon and Bose are bulky, heavy on battery power and, frankly, overkill. So the latter's QuietComfort 20/20i (with in-line controls for Android/iOS devices) are the perfect compromise on price and size.
Working just as well when attached to a TV as to a tablet or phone and using a small battery pack that charges via micro USB and works for about eight hours, they're as good at blocking-out white noise on planes as they are the chatter of kids and commuters.
Where to buy: Amazon