Tis the season to spend money, and in order to make the day of that geeky TV fan in your life, TVEnthusiast proudly presents our 2016 Holiday Gift Buying Guide.
So your special someone already has Netflix and Amazon Prime, right? If not, then those should be your first priorities, but we are going to assume they do. Since our first Gift Buyers Guide a whole bunch of new streaming services have launched. Here are the ones we think are worth exploring.
Game of Thrones, The Night Of, Westworld, Silicon Valley, and more make HBO Now a must have streaming service, even if it is only for the months in which Game of Thrones is on the air. HBO Now gift cards can be found at retail stores like Walmart and Best Buy for values of $25 or $50
HBO gets all the eyeballs, but Starz should be turning some heads as well. Recent Starz originals like Ash vs Evil Dead, Outlander, and the upcoming (and highly anticipated) Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) series American Gods. The best way to add Starz is through Amazon Prime which lets you add the channel for $8.99/month. As it can be done through Amazon, you can buy any old Amazon gift card and add a little note for its intended purpose.
Hulu started life as a free service with annoyign adds to watch the last 5 or so episodes of a currently running show. Now, Hulu has ad-free and ad-limited options (and is doing away with the free tier), and is building its own catalog of original titles like 11.22.63, The Path, and Chance. I have found Hulu to be the best source for British television series. Hulu’s limited commercial plan is $7.99/month, while it’s commercial free plan is $11.99/month (and totally worth the extra $4, if you like their content). Hulu sells a variety of gift cards through various retailers. Like this 3-month card from Walmart for $23.97, which is delivered to your e-mail as a code.
If you or your loved one does not like anime, than just skip this one entirely. If either of you do, however, than Crunchyroll is the best option around. For only $6.95/month, you get access to 50+ HD Simulcasts (as in they episodes are put on the site within about a day of the Japanese airing) per season, plus a rather large and expanding back catalog, and even access to digital manga. You can even buy a 1 year gift subscription for $59.95 and save over $20. Crunchyroll can be watched on your computer, your game console, your phone, on Chromecast, Roku, even Ouya. There is no better gift for the anime fan.
Cord Cutting Live Channel Streaming Services
Did you know that there are now streaming services that can replace your cable box? That’s right, live streaming channels like NBC, AMC, even ESPN can be found in Live Streaming services like Playstation Vue and Sling TV. Next year, even Hulu is getting in on the game. Some of these services even include on-demand, authentication for connected sites like HBO Go, and cloud DVRs. They are getting better week to week.
Offering up to 5 streams at once and support for Playstation consoles, Chromecast, Roku, and Apple TV, Playsation Vue can be had for as little as $39.99/month and even includes a cloud DVR. You can use Playstation Store gift cards for Playstation Vue.
Sling can get you started for half the price of Playstation Vue at $20 a month. Though the service lacks a cloud DVR and tends to not be as highly regarded. Sling TV has $25 gift cards at retailers like Best Buy.
Though streaming options are becoming more and more common, some shows have tricky streaming rights. In those cases, the best option is to simply buy them.
Gift Cards to Digital Stores
Rather than buying a bunch of discs, why not just give gift cards to digital market places like Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes. If your giftee is an Android user, go with Google Play, if they use an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, go with iTunes. If you just don’t know, Amazon is a safe neutral bet. As an Android user, I love Google Play, it works on Chromecast, and gives me context sensitive information on my phone for things happening in the show or movie I am watching. Regardless of the market place you support, individual episodes are cheap, usually around $1.99 per episode. Even cheaper is the option to buy a season pass. You can pay $26.99 upfront for the full, currently airing, 7th season of The Walking Dead. Season 7 of the Walking Dead is 16 episodes, which works out to $1.69/episode. Buying TV is a great option for any show you can’t wait to appear on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Blu Ray/DVD Sets
I don’t udnerstand it myself, but some people just want the physical medium. That being the case, you can’t go wrong with a good Blu Ray or DVD season set. You can snag the 6th season of Game of Thrones on Blu Ray for just $39.96 right now on Amazon while the sale lasts. You can grab the entire series of Breaking Bad for just $99.99, which includes both the BluRay discs, and the codes for the digital versions on UltraViolet. Season 1 of the excellent Mr. Robot is just $24.49, and also includes a digital copy of the season as well.
Chromecast is my primary solution for watching streaming content, I have 2 of these wonderful devices. One is hooked up on my TV in my room, the other in my living room. There are SOME services that don’t support the device, namely Amazon Instant Video, but for nearly everything else it has me covered. From Youtube, to Netflix, HBO Now, Crunchyroll, to a large number of network and cable channel apps, I just open the app in my phone, hit the cast button, and select what I want to watch. Chromecast has had 2 revisions since the original released. The first was a general improvement and a replacement of the original, still at that great $35 price point. More recently, they released a new version which supports 4k and HDR, and has a built in Ethernet plug, though it is a bit pricier at $69. If you have or plan to get a Chromecast for yourself or a loved one, also consider Google Home. Like the Amazon Echo, but cheaper, Google’s Home device has you live out your Star Trek and Iron Man fantasies by letting you talk to your house. Though that isn’t immediately about TV, if you do have a Chromecast you can cast videos to it with nothing but your voice. Google Home is $129.
“That is great,” you might be saying, “but I want to watch from my couch using headphones, and I mainly watch Amazon Instant Video, so how does this help me?” In that case, perhaps Chromecast isn’t the device for you, for a bit more you can get the best self contained streaming device on the market, the Roku. Besides supporting Amazon Instant Video, the Roku even has a headphone jack on its remote, so that you can plug in remotely when your family is sleeping. Rokus range in price, and you should be careful, as some do not include that awesome headphone jack feature. My Roku pick would be the Roku 4 with 4k which will set you back about $100.
I get all of my geek cred shirts from websites like Shirt Punch, Qwertee, Yetee, Ript, and TeeFury. Though you can’t just buy whatever you are looking for, the shirts are cheap, ranging from $10-12 a piece, and designs are updated daily. If they don’t have what you are looking for, check tomorrow.
Hoodies, Jackets, Robes, and More
Check out Think Geek, which has a variety of cool hoodies, robes, and jackets for nearly every special TV geek occasion. I am particularly fond of these Doctor Who Tardis themed pajama bottoms, and these The Walking Dead boxers. Prices vary, with some specialty items going well beyond $200, while others can be found for just over $10.
I recommended Funko Pop figured, last time, and I stand by it again this time. Funko makes figures for just about everything even mildly related to pop culture. This time I have my eye on the extra large Colossal Titan from Attack on Titan, this awesome Ash from Ash Vs. Evil Dead, and this adorable bald Eleven with Eggos from Stranger Things. I am considering The Golden Girl figures as a gift for my Mom. The basic sized Funko figures go for around $12, and can be purchased in a ton of places, including Amazon.
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