You tell him about a movie you just saw and loved; he knows the director’s whole filmography, student films included, and can rattle off every movie that influenced the one you just saw. You compare favorite books; chances are he read yours in high school, while his, a long-list selection for some award, came out in the past year or two. His favorite band is the band from which your favorite band lifted their sound. The mediaphile is always two steps ahead — so how do you avoid gifting him something that’s two Christmases behind?
Just as there are countless subgenres within genres (which the mediaphile is sure to know by heart), there’s more than one breed of mediaphile, and each has a gap in their collection you can fill. See the vinyl geek with an extensive collection that he can only enjoy in whatever spot has become the de-facto listening room; the film geek whose makeshift home theater is equipped with the perfect projector-and-speaker setup, but lacks anything in the way of visual stimulation when the projector’s off and the lights are up; or those with deceptively selective taste, who know everything there is to know about a handful of creators but have some well-hidden holes in their field of research. The mediaphile is indeed always two steps ahead, but no one ever said you can’t clean up his stride.
As with previous Roku models, you can control the box with a smart device or cast content directly to the TV, and additional SD card storage is available for your mediaphile’s extensive digital collection. But the first-time features make this a must-have: a digital audio jack on the remote (so as not to disturb roommates during late-night Marvel TV show binges), a feature for locating lost remotes, and support for 4K screens.
Bose SoundTech 10
The fewer the barriers between the mediaphile and his tunes, the better. As such, Bluetooth speakers that require him to reconnect smart devices continuously are the bane of his existence. Bose’s SoundTouch 10 eliminates this problem in two ways. First, each speaker can sync with other Bose speakers for continuous play, so he’ll no longer have to carry a speaker from room to room, or disconnect and reconnect to different speakers with each migration through the house. Second, six customizable preset buttons allow him to queue up his favorite mixes without having to consult a smart device. Just focus on the music, man. (Or the podcasts.)
There’s no shortage of vinyl-shipping services on the interwebs, with most filling highly specific niches within what is already a niche market. But how many of them allow you to make your own vinyl records? Using music files chosen by you, Vinylify cuts records by hand using cutting machines from the ’80s and a machine for converting digital into analog. Music rights apply, so this is best for a mediaphile with some original sounds to put down (or one with curiously broad rights access).
The Gear Patrol Magazine
The best gift is something that the recipient wants but wouldn’t buy for himself. A basket of pears? No thanks. A trip around the world? Now you’re on to something. While we won’t be bankrolling a trip, we can get you close with Issue #1 of the Gear Patrol magazine, a journey from Wyoming to Chile to Norway and more, including product guides and an interview with mountaineer Conrad Anker. Seriously, put down that fruit basket.
Stella Vie Movie Director Posters
Like anyone else, the mediaphile can fall prey to college-dorm-ish decor. Swap his tattered old Eraserhead poster for a limited-edition illustration of David Lynch, or whichever filmic great he gravitates towards: Hitchcock, Scorsese, Kubrick and more. Each creative interpretation features museum-quality ink on 190gsm cotton paper, signed, numbered and blind embossed.
Big-Budget Video Games
It’s been a big year for AAA gaming. Players returned to post-apocalyptic America in Fallout 4, got behind the wheel of the Batmobile in Batman Arkham Knight, relived their middle school days with Halo 5 Guardians and shot down AT-ATs in Star Wars: Battlefront. Christmas break is primetime for your mediaphile to finally sink the hundreds of hours these adventures entail.
Astell & Kern AK Jr.
What distinguishes the Astell & Kern AK Jr. is not quality alone; there are plenty of options out there if that’s all you’re after. What’s really special is its power of consolidation. It doesn’t need an external amp to play, and when connected to a PC or Mac via USB, the device serves as an advanced sound card, bringing top-quality to any computer. Your mediaphile won’t have to settle for Spotify at work any more.
Analogue NT Gaming Console
For the price of an Xbox One, your dusty copy of Duck Hunt can have a new life — in glorious 1080p, for $79 more. Yes, for a device with mostly the same innards as the original Nintendo Entertainment System (albeit in a striking aluminum case), it’s a bit absurd. But then again, it’s got 48 kHZ 16-bit stereo and boosted resolution to provide classic games with unwarped visuals. And how much do some guys pay to buy the cars they drove in high school?
The Art of the Con
Praised by Kirkus as “An engrossing read about brazen, artful scams,” The Art of the Con details enough heists and scams to fill an installment of National Treasure. (Or at least an episode of This American Life.)
The Wright Brothers
Two of America’s most iconic inventors had only a public high school education and no network of connections to speak of. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David McCullough blends the brothers’ diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks and letters into a revealing, endlessly detailed autobiography.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
The past couple years of social media outrage and scandals du jour might make public shaming seem like a new phenomenon. It’s not — but as Jon Ronson makes clear in his acclaimed work of nonfiction, it’s perhaps more dangerous now than ever.
Seveneves: A Novel
To many, the end of this earth is a nebulous idea at best. Neal Stephenson’s latest imagines not just humankind’s exodus, but its homecoming several thousand years later, in the form of seven differently evolved races.
Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral
Alternatively, Mary Doria Russell’s sequel to The Sparrow reframes the Old West as a time rife with conflicts not dissimilar to our own, all seen through the eyes of Wyatt Earp as he makes his way to Tombstone.
Purity: A Novel
Franzen’s latest was met with universal acclaim, which in some ways was inevitable: one of the biggest names in fiction melds student debt, WikiLeaks, international intrigue and more into an all-encompassing opus. If your mediaphile hasn’t read it, it’s surely on his list.
Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control
For the mediaphile who likely owns every device capable of playing or streaming everything that can be labeled “entertainment,” there’s the Logitech Harmony Elite remote, the ideal remote for bringing together a gaggle of smart products. Instead of forcing a suite of Blu-ray players, HD TVs and even smart-home products to speak a single language, Logitech has built a remote that speaks every language. Sure to make his life much easier.
Dovetail Record Crate
Because just like movie posters, sometimes milk crates are a little too “sophomore year.” These crates, in oak or walnut, store up to 100 LPs and feature vegetable-tanned leather handles.
It’s always worth asking, right?
Klipsch Dolby Atmos Home Theater Systems: The Dolby Atmos system is impressive on its own; Klipsch’s surround-sound setup (which features Atmos) is its most beautiful extension, matching copper cones with black or natural walnut finishing. Moreover, it’s convenient, negating the need for a ceiling unit by bouncing sound off the ceiling towards listeners.
Sony VPLVW365ES 4K 3D SXRD Home Theater Projector: For all the advancement that OLED TVs provide (and it’s a lot), there’s still no contest between TVs and projectors — this 4K-compatible Sony projector’s 100,000:1 contrast ratio is testament to that. 1,500 lumens of brightness guarantee that that performance is maintained in brighter rooms, and, in addition to native 4K, the projector can upscale HD Blu-ray image quality to 4K as well. Front-facing vents allow for convenient, painless installation, as does automatic calibration — so the holiday Netflix binge can begin sans delay.
More guides and gear to fill out your list
Perfect Home Vinyl Setups at Every Price Point
Going to the record shop isn’t just for show. Make sure those vinyls play right at home.
The Best Books, Movies and Podcasts to Learn About American History
Think July 4 is all about grilling, fireworks and beer? It is, mostly. But it’s also about war, baseball and Civil Rights.