The HCC 2021 Christmas Gift Guide!

XmasGift_nano_leaf.jpg Nanoleaf Lines
If you want to bring a touch of professional install flair to your home cinema, smart illumination is a must. New from Nanoleaf, the 'LEGO as lighting' company, are Lines, which – as the name suggests – take on a slimmer form factor than its earlier panels, but have the same modular design potential. Nanoleaf's starter pack (£179) features nine of the backlit bars, plus nine mounting connectors, enabling you to start building your geometric Tron-style installation. Expansion packs (£49) feature three more of each. As with all Nanoleaf products, control is via app, with preset and customisable scenes, screen mirroring, scheduling and more on the menu.

XmasGift_LG_GamingSpeaker-GP9-7.jpg LG UltraGear GP9 Gaming Speaker
Looking somewhat like a soundbar designed by a Cylon, LG's GP9 is the Korean brand's take on an audio booster for joystick junkies. Designed to partner its range of UltraGear monitors, but easily paired with any flatscreen via optical digital audio, this quirky battery-powered speaker features a five-driver, two-channel array and offers DTS Headphone:X compatibility, echo cancellation and genre-specific sound presets including FPS and RTS. If you don't know what those two acronyms mean, this isn't for you – and you probably won't like the colour-changing LEDs either.

XmasGift_Echo-Flex-with-Smart-Clock.jpg Echo Flex
Available now for a paltry £9.99, the plug-in Echo Flex is Amazon's simplest Alexa accessory yet. Tucking a tiny speaker into a compact chassis with in-built mic, USB port (for phone charging or partnering kit) and 3.5mm audio output, it'll add Alexa functionality to anywhere in your house with a spare socket. Okay, you wouldn't use its 16mm driver for critical music listening, but if you need voice control of a second-room system, or just fancy being able to ask for a weather update when you're in the understairs cupboard, then Flex away.

XmasGift_ben_q_gs50.jpg BenQ GS50
It's probably not the weather right now to be thinking about moving your home cinema outside, but BenQ's cube-shaped beamer offers the tools needed for when an al fresco movie night does take your fancy. IPX2-rated for splash resistance, 'drop-proof' and portable thanks to its rechargeable battery and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB connections, the £650 GS50 creates a Full HD image (with HDR) via a 500 Lumens LED light source. Android TV brings apps to your garden party, while a 2.1-channel sound system takes care of audio. There's even a 'Camp Fire' picture preset...

XmasGift_sony_SRS-NS7.jpg Sony SRS-NS7
'Wearable personal theatre' is how Sony describes the £270 SRS-NS7. Shaped to sit comfortably across your shoulders, this fabric-wrapped Bluetooth neckband offers a dual device connection (letting you pair with a 'phone and laptop simultaneously, for example), and features upward-firing speakers to target your ears. For movie night it has an extra trick – tether its supplied wireless transmitter to a Sony XR TV, and it will deliver a Dolby Atmos experience via the brand's 360 Spatial Sound processing.

XmasGift_iso_Aperta_sub.jpg IsoAcoustics Aperta Sub
Canadian company IsoAcoustics began life in 2012, designing isolation products for loudspeakers in professional studio facilities. Now you can snaffle its wares for your home cinema, including its £149 Aperta Sub. This kit comprises a rigid aluminium open frame with the brand's patented 'isolators' top and bottom, plus four carpet spikes. Intended for use with front-firing/side-firing woofers weighing up to 36kg, the Aperta Sub aims to decouple your bassmaker from its supporting surface, limiting the transfer of energy to your room structure and delivering a tighter performance in the process. IsoAcoustics also sells a trio of Aperta Stands for loudspeakers, so you can pimp your full system.

XmasGift_Denon_avr_x1700H.jpg Denon AVR-X1700H
Priced £599, this might be the next-gen AV receiver console gamers have been looking for. Thanks to its trio of HDMI inputs able to passthrough 4K/120Hz and 8K/60Hz video, plus support for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) gaming features, there's no need for an external switching box, or an eARC back-connection, if you have both a PS5 and Xbox Series X. Other features include HEOS multiroom, Bluetooth headphone output and a 7 x 85W (8ohm, 20Hz-20kHz) power plant ready for a 5.1.2 or 7.1 speaker setup.

XmasGift_sharp_aroma.jpg Sharp Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser
AKA the DF-A1U-W, this £35 Sharp gizmo will bring a waft of fresh, scented air to your movie den (and let you recreate the wonders of the 1960s Smell-O-Vision format), without you having to risk naked flames next to your precious disc collection. Powered via USB or AC adaptor, the diffuser can be filled with up to 200ml of your preferred essential oils, and will then create 'a fine mist of fragrance' alongside a subtle (and adjustable) LED candle effect.

XmasGift_.Audio Research I_50.jpg Audio Research I/50
You might think your AV rig has everything, but has it got a stereo valve amp available in a choice of six colours? The I/50 from Audio Research offers single-ended and balanced line-level inputs (optional DAC and phono stage modules will arrive in 2022), and deploys pairs of 6550WE valves on its output stage for a claimed 50W per channel. Rotary controls for source and volume, plus its 'LexieTube display valves', complete the luxury hi-fi vibe. Yours for £5,698.

Stocking fillers

ScalextricXmasGift_scalextric.jpg The racing game honcho has expanded its film and TV range this year with a James Bond No Time To Die 'microscalextric' set featuring Aston Martin DB5 and Jaguar XF replicas. When your family won't let you slink off to watch a Bond film on Christmas Day, you can sit in the corner and play this instead. The four metres of track supports nine different layouts. Super-spies can pick it up for £50.

MezcoXmasGift_mezco.jpg For the AV-Holic who likes accessorising their room with film-related collectibles, Mezco's catalogue of scale figures is a must-browse. Recent additions are its Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters boxsets (£85 approx), each featuring five kaiju figures (including Mothra, King Ghidorah, Rodan and Big G himself) with multiple switchable heads, arms and add-ons. Time to unleash your stop-motion maestro.

MarvelXmasGift_marvel.jpg Disney Store used to be where you went to buy a Winnie The Pooh teddy – now it's home to merch lines for the House of Mouse's Star Wars and Marvel franchises. There's the expected stuff (The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian coffee table book; a replica Infinity Gauntlet) but also the unexpected, like this £50 adult-size Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings jacket. There's no better way to show your MCU fandom.

LEGOXmasGift_lego.jpg Flaunt your love of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy with LEGO's newly (re)released DC Batmobile Tumbler. A monster 2,049-piece build, measuring 45cm in length and 16cm high when assembled, this gorgeous set comes with Batman and Joker minifigures, and sells for £210. Want something more affordable? Check out LEGO's full range of official Marvel, DC, Star Wars and Jurassic World sets.

Blu-ray boxsets

The Karate Kid: 3-Movie 4K Ultra HD Collection
XmasGift_blu_karate_kid.jpg It’s time to wax on, wax off again with this UHD boxset of the original …Karate Kid trilogy (sorry, The Next Karate Kid fans). It's the first time Part II and Part III have appeared on the format, and there's remixed Dolby Atmos audio and new extras, too.

Mae West in Hollywood: 1932-1943 – Limited Ed.
XmasGift_blu_mae_west.jpg Indicator celebrates the career of the legendary sex symbol with this collection of all 10 of Mae West’s Hollywood movies (from 1932’s Night After Night to 1943’s The Heat’s On), each accompanied by bonuses including vintage shorts, chat- tracks, interviews and more.

Shawscope: Volume One – Limited Ed.
XmasGift_blu_shaw_brothers.jpg From kung fu killers to kaiju chaos, Arrow Video is revisiting the 1970s heyday of the Hong Kong Shaw Brothers studio with this Blu-ray boxset featuring new restorations of 12 of its films. The set is also packed with extras, plus two soundtrack CDs and a 60-page book.

Stanley Kubrick: 5-film Collection
XmasGift_blu_kubrick.jpg With Kubrick’s films being upgraded to UHD BD at a rate of roughly one per year, it’ll be a while until most have hit the format. Here you can catch up with five of the six films remastered in 4K so far: Spartacus, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket.

Cartoon Saloon’s Irish Folklore Trilogy
XmasGift_blu_cartoon_saloon.jpg Irish studio Cartoon Saloon has made a splash with its trio of Oscar-nominated animations based on Celtic mythology. Now all three – last year’s Wolfwalkers (until now only available via Apple TV+), and the previously released The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea – are available in a handsome BD boxset from December 20.

Robotech: The Complete Series
XmasGift_blu_robotech.jpg Sold exclusively through HMV, this mammoth set is a must for fans of the 1980s anime series. As well as collecting all 85 episodes and hours of bonus features across 13 discs, this limited edition release bungs in collectible goodies in the form of a transforming Veritech plane/robot model, a Roy Fokker action figure and four military-style patches.