If you go out to the movies these days with your friends or family, you can barely watch one without breaking the bank. At home, you can binge as many as you want — on your big TV, in your comfy clothes. Turning your living room into the place to be — whether you're on your own or with company — for a movie- and TV-watching marathon is a smart and fun idea that saves you money and stress. Here's what you need to make that happen.
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If you buy a new TV, you'll have direct access to all the best and most popular streaming video on demand (SVOD) apps directly through its on-screen interface. And across the three major streaming movie services in Australia, there are thousands of movies. On Foxtel alone, you'll find 98 of the 100 best-reviewed movies of 2016, while Stan and Netflix have their own originals and a huge library of older movies that you'll definitely want to watch again. Here's a tip: pick not one but two of your favourite streaming services and subscribe, because there's not that much cross-over in content between the two.
With a big-screen TV, it makes sense to invest in some good sound while you're at it. If you're planning on spending a lot of time in front of your TV playing a lot of blockbuster movies, a high-end soundbar with a subwoofer and rear speakers — or even a full home theatre system with a dedicated amplifier and surround sound channels — will give your home cinema a huge boost in immersiveness. There's nothing as cool as settling down in front of a massive TV playing a beautiful movie when you have a floor-shaking, teeth-chattering soundtrack playing loud and in beautiful quality to accompany the gorgeous visuals.
If you're looking for an easy way to boost your movie library, buying a Blu-ray player and some movies on disc is a great way to invest in some of your favourite films — and best of all, they're everything-proof. You don't need an internet connection, so they're useful if the phone goes down. Our advice would be to take this opportunity to start investing in 4K Blu-rays, too, and a future-proofed 4K Blu-ray player. 4K Blu-rays look incredible on a 4K TV, and most of the new discs you can buy also have High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, which massively improves the detail you see in shadow and highlight areas of the screen.
Consider investing in a next-generation gaming console, too. A new PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One S gives you 4K HDR games, as well as streaming from Netflix, Stan and Foxtel Play, as well as other movie streaming services like YouTube. Even if you're sick of your movie marathon, having a games console handy is a great way to pass the time with friends or family — think competitive multiplayer games, or even some split-screen party games. If you're looking for a single add-on for your TV that'll handle everything from streaming to movies on discs to all the other extras, you could do a lot worse than a console.
Here's something worth keeping in mind, though: if you buy a new TV, you don't even need any extras to have a good time. The speakers in new TVs, for example, are so much better than they used to be a few years ago, even if the screens themselves are skinnier and more compact. You can cast content from your smartphone to your big screen even without a Chromecast, or you can bargain to get one of the $50 dongles thrown in for free, or you can browse it on the TV itself. Whether you go all out and build a home cinema, or whether you just pick up a new screen and call that the end of it, you're guaranteed to have a good night in.