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Fri, 13 Jul 2018 18:30:56 +0000
The best TV shows to stream on Stan
Stan has an abundance of great TV shows on offer, so here's our list of what you should be watching first.

YouTube TV is the shake-up the industry has desperately needed. For too long have we been upcharged by cable companies trying to hose us with equipment rental fees and HD service when those things should just be free of charge. Too long have we been locked into cable contracts that penalize us if we so much as look at another cable option. 

But thankfully, those days are over.

YouTube TV is a cable replacement, full stop, offering live TV to your phone, tablet and streaming device without a costly cable subscription and contract.

It's a deal that feels too good to be true for those of us bombarded by cable box rental fees, hidden charges and ever-higher cable bills. And while it has some problems of its own, it could one day put cable companies out of business.

The biggest appeal, however, is for the all so-called cord-nevers out there - those of us who have never paid for cable, and likely never will. It's all the channels we've come to expect from our parents house, but at a price we can actually afford.

Are you ready to cancel cable once and for all? Are you ready for dozens of channels streaming live wherever you are without the need for a cable box? If so, then pull up a seat and we'll give you the 411 on this game-changing new service.

[Update: YouTube TV took a bit of a dive during the England-Croatia World Cup match before returning to full form before overtime hit. YouTube apologized for the outage via Twitter, and recognized that users were frustrated with the timing.]

How to watch YouTube TV

First thing's first, you'll need to sign up for a free trial of the service. Once that's done, you can either tune in on your browser (tv.youtube.com) or find the YouTube TV app on your iOS and Android phone or tablet.

If you're looking for the old-school sit back experience, YouTube TV is available on Chromecast and Apple TV compatible by casting from your aforementioned phone and tablet or, if you're the proud owner of an Android TV and/or Roku device, you can find a dedicated app for YouTube TV on their respective channel stores. 

Now, it's also worth pointing out that to access YouTube TV, not only are you going to need a subscription to the service but also an internet service plan from one of your local ISPs (for most folks, that's AT&T, Spectrum, Verizon).

This is something most folks pay for already and therefore hasn't been figured into the cost of YouTube TV - but it's worth noting nonetheless. 

Why YouTube TV is new, but important

Why is YouTube TV going to be big? Well, while PlayStation Vue and Sling TV had to carve out a new audience for their products, YouTube TV already has one – one billion users that live in 88 countries and speak 76 different languages. 

Sure, both Sony and DISH are large corporations, but do they have one billion people using their products to stream videos every year? Not likely.

OK, so YouTube TV is going to be big, you get that. But what exactly is YouTube TV and why should you care? Let’s talk about it. 

Wait. What is YouTube TV again? 

YouTube TV is a US-exclusive live TV streaming service – think Netflix but instead of on-demand TV shows and movies you’ll see cable channels like ABC, NBC, FOX, ESPN and Disney among many, many more. It’s like cable in the sense that everything is divided by channel and, yes, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for it, but the difference here is that you’ll be able to take shows whenever and wherever you go. 

Well, sort of. Because YouTube TV has mainstream local stations (NBC, ABC, FOX, etc...), it initially launched in a few cities and then expanded out into other regions – similar to how PlayStation Vue started. 

Loading up the service for the first time, we were recommended shows like Archer, The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons and many more. We easily found enough content to keep us entertained for the time-being, plus will have plenty to watch next time we log-on thanks to YouTube TV's stellar Cloud DVR. 

Cloud DVR, if you've never heard that term before, allows you to record your favorite shows as they air and save them, well, to the cloud so that you can watch them later. It’s TiVo, but everything’s online. YouTube TV promises unlimited storage for shows for up to nine months – a serious advantage over the competition which usually only offer 28 days of storage.

YouTube TV on every device? We hope so.

Also, unlike Sling TV which wants you to buy a more expensive package to allow more than one user to watch TV at a time, YouTube says that its service will allow up to six people in the family to access the service and will allow up to three of them tune into the service simultaneously on the same account – a big advantage when you’re looking to replace cable and you have a big family.

The other thing you need to know about YouTube TV is its price: $40 a month. For comparison, that’s slightly more expensive than Sling TV’s basic $20-per-month package and a few dollars less than PlayStation Vue’s basic $39 package that includes local stations like CBS, NBC, etc…

Cut to the chase

What channels are included?

First off, all the mainstream local channels are on-board: NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX. That means every NFL game up to and including the Super Bowl, are yours to watch every Sunday. AMC has also signed on, which means you'll still be able to get your Walking Dead fix on Sundays.

Beyond the local stuff, you’ve got all the channels that fall under the umbrella of those companies – i.e. ESPN, CSN, FOX Sports, USA, FX, Disney, E!, Bravo, SyFy, FXX, National Geographic, MSNBC, FOX News, CNBC and more. 

Here's the complete picture of every channel so far.

On top of all those channels shown above, you’ll also get access to YouTube’s own network of shows, YouTube Red Originals. Shows on this ‘network’ (a term we use very lightly here) include Scare PewDiePie and exclusive films that you’ve probably never heard of. This really isn’t a huge draw for most people, but hey, maybe the money that comes in from YouTube TV can be used to crank up the quality of this content to near-Netflix levels.

Now, like Amazon Video, you can actually tack on additional premium stations for an extra fee. Right now the list of premium offerings include FOX Soccer Plus and Showtime, which cost around $10 extra per month. 

OK, so who’s missing so far? To be honest, not many major channels. The service is still missing cable mainstays like Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, in addition to premium channels like HBO, but YouTube is slowly filling in the gaps.

How is it different than YouTube Red?

This can be sort of confusing, so listen up. YouTube Red is an ad-free version of YouTube that has a few fun features like allowing you to keep a video playing even when your phone is turned off. A subscription to YouTube Red also gives you access to the YouTube Red Originals channel that we talked about earlier. 

What YouTube Red won't allow you to do is watch live TV or cable TV content. For that you'll need YouTube TV. 

YouTube TV, like YouTube Red, will start as a US-only service and then might possibly expand out into other territories. YouTube wants to roll its Red service out to the UK sometime in 2017, but it's facing problems doing so. It's more than likely YouTube TV would follow in that path, unfortunately. 

Is there some crossover potential here between these two services? Absolutely. Maybe a subscription to YouTube TV also nets you a free subscription to Red. But we'll just have to wait to find out more from YouTube if that's the case. 

Is YouTube TV a better deal than cable? 

That’s a good question. The answer here is ‘maybe’. Depending on how your cable service provider packages its internet and cable bundles. If you’re already paying for internet service, you can tack on an extra $30 for YouTube TV and maybe a $10-per-month subscription to Netflix and have just as much content as you’d have from a cable TV service that usually run $60-70 per month. 

That being said, if you’re paying for one of those bundles that allows you to package cable, internet and phone service together for a lower price, YouTube TV might not come out to be any less. 

You're still going to need cable (or HBO Now) for your Game of Thrones fix

The benefits of going for a streaming service over a cable service are the ability to watch shows wherever you go, the potential to use Cloud DVR to save shows for later and the no-obligations contract that allows you to cancel your account without a termination fee. On top of everything else, you don’t need to rent a cable box from companies like Comcast, Spectrum or AT&T, because the streaming service comes in through whatever device you’re using. 

In short, YouTube TV can offer as many channels as basic cable does, without the need for a cable box and 12-month contract, which is why we consider it a win. It does all that and offers Cloud DVR, is available a plethora of apps for devices like Apple TV and the Xbox One family of consoles and does video-on-demand, making it one of the best streaming services on the planet. (Though, at the time of this writing, YouTube TV is currently NOT supported on PS4 or Roku - so there's still room for improvement.) 

How soon can you start watching it? Right now. Just head over to tv.youtube.com to start your free trial.


Fri, 13 Jul 2018 06:10:05 +0000
YouTube TV: Everything you need to know about the TV streaming service
YouTube TV went down during the World Cup, but it should be back up and running. Here's everything you need to know.

UPDATE: Celebrate Friday the 13th by watching one of the greatest horror movies of all time: Carrie! Find out more about it on Page 3!

As each streaming service's content library continues to grow, it's hard to keep track of the best movies these platforms have to offer. When it comes to the Australian streaming service Stan, there's an enormous amount of films of variable quality available to stream instantly. Our job is to sift through that huge catalogue and pick out the 'crème de la crème' for you.

To make things as straightforward as possible, we've separated our choices into genres, so that you can jump straight to the type of movie you actually feel like watching. Curated by TechRadar editors and backed up with ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, these films should offer something for everyone. We'll keep this list up to date with must-watch movies, so you can spend less time browsing and more time watching! Here are the best movies on Stan.

Need some kid-friendly content to entertain the family with? Stan has a number of great kids and family movies on offer that should keep everyone happy. These films are guaranteed to please the whole family.

Red Dog

An Australian family favourite, Red Dog tells the heartwarming true story of a delightful pooch that united an entire community while roaming the Outback looking for his actual owner. The dog brings people together everywhere he goes – some people find love, others find themselves. Starring Josh Lucas and Rachael Taylor, Red Dog is a beautiful movie that the whole family will enjoy. Though the dog is red, this is a true-blue Aussie classic. 

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes 82%

Speed Racer

A movie that's way better than its reputation would suggest (the film was derided upon its initial release but has steadily grown a cult following), Speed Racer was clearly a passion project for the Wachowskis, directors of The Matrix. A tale of integrity, family and standing up to corruption, Speed Racer is much more than a sugary kids film (though it is that, too). Featuring some of the most mind-blowing and cartoony visuals of any live action film in existence, Speed Racer puts its pedal to the metal and achieves some deliriously psychedelic race sequences in the process. Sure, it'll still have its fair share of detractors who refuse to get behind its incredibly vibrant and overwhelming visuals, but give it a chance and you might just find it to be a sensational family film with a huge heart. 

IMDB Rating: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes 40%

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

When one thinks of director Zack Snyder, the mind often goes to his violent action films, such as 300, Watchmen and Batman v Superman. But did you know he also directed an Australian animated kids film about warrior owls? While obviously lighter in tone than some of his other works, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is just as stylish as you'd expect from Zack Snyder, with his liberal use of slow-motion and speed-ramping giving the film that unmistakable Snyder look and feel. Featuring stunning animation and terrific voice performances from Aussie actors like Ryan Kwanten, Essie Davis, Abbie Cornish, Richard Roxburgh and Joel Edgerton, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a real hoot.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes 50%

Happy Feet

Another Australian animated kids film about birds, Happy Feet took the world by storm when it released in 2006. A delightful family film from director George Miller (Babe, Mad Max: Fury Road), Happy Feet follows a penguin named mumble whose lack of singing talent leads him to dance to find his mate. With an all-star cast featuring Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Brittany Murphy, Happy Feet is guaranteed to make you tap your feet. 

IMDB Rating: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes 75%

Where the Wild Things Are

Based on the classic children's book by Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are is an awe-inspiring story of a young boy named Max (Max Records) who runs away from home after an argument with his mum (Cathertine Keener), only to end up on an island filled with creatures who name him as their king. Max instantly befriends a gentle giant named Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini) and while everything is going well for a while, things start to turn dark, leading Max to realise how much he misses home. Directed by Spike Jonze (Her, Being John Malkovich), Where the Wild Things Are is an artful family film that hits you right in the heart.

IMDB Rating: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

Feel like watching something that'll put a tingle in your spine? Well, look no further, because Stan has a large selection of horror films that should please even the most hardened gore-hound. These are some of the best.

Carrie

There have been countless Stephen King film adaptations over the last few decades, but Carrie was the first (and arguably best). Sissy Spacek plays a tormented teenage girl who is pushed over the edge by her mean classmates and domineering mother – with incredibly violent results. A bloody classic. 

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

The Descent

Not one for claustrophobic types, The Descent follows a caving expedition that goes horribly wrong, leaving a group of women to fend for themselves against some truly terrifying cave-dwelling creatures. An absolute masterpiece of terror, The Descent is one of the best horror movies to come out of the UK.

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Scream

The late, great horror director Wes Craven had a habit of making a game-changing fright flick at least once per decade. In the '70s, it was The Last House on the Left. In the '80s, he birthed the horror icon Freddy Kruger in A Nightmare on Elm Street. The kids of the '90s, however, had grown accustomed to the usual horror tropes, which is why Craven's self-aware slasher Scream became such a sensation. The characters in this knew they were in a horror film, which allowed the movie to exploit the genre's rules at every turn. 

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Wolf Creek

Loosely inspired by actual events, Wolf Creek gave birth to Australia's first real horror icon in Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), a sadistic bushman who enjoys nothing more than hunting and killing tourists in the middle of the Outback. Once you've watched this, check out its sequel, Wolf Creek 2, as well as the incredible Stan Original series. 

IMDB Rating: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 53%

Cabin in the Woods

Another self-aware horror movie in the vein of Scream, Cabin in the Woods acts as a meta-commentary of the horror genre and its audience. We've all seen countless horror films set in a cabin, each one featuring a different group of stock characters facing some form of horrific demise – we don't even seem to mind that only the threat itself ever really seems to change. The joke here is that there are actually people behind the scenes who are pulling the strings – it's all a matter of re-arranging the pieces to see what happens next. Starring Chris Hemsworth (before he was famous) and written by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers), Cabin in the Woods is both clever and scary.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 9.2

In the mood for a good tear-jerker? What about a serious, high-brow piece of cinema? The films below should do the trick. Here are our picks for the best dramas on Stan. 

Patriots Day


A harrowing (and eventually) uplifting retelling of the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 which killed three people and injured hundreds of others. Directed by Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon, Lone Survivor), Patriots Day plays out like a procedural thriller that begins with the morning in question and follows through to the aftermath, including the ensuing manhunt that saw brave police officers and federal agents (played by Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon and John Goodman, among others) track down and confront the terrorists responsible. Emotionally devastating yet hopeful for the future, Patriots Day is a powerful film that's filled with heart, showing how the inhabitants of a city can come together to rise up against hatred.

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

There Will Be Blood

A stunning commentary on the nature of greed and morality, Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is a blistering examination of how easy it is for a soulless man to prosper in a morally bankrupt world, while those who attempt to sink to his level find only their own demise. Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his portrayal of Daniel Plainview, an unscrupulous prospector who will stop at nothing to achieve wealth and power as an oil magnate, even if that means wrenching away oil rights from people who don't know any better. On the other side of the coin is Paul Dano's character of Eli Sunday, a preacher whose family was swindled by Plainview for their oil rights. Though Sunday, as a man of God, attempts to take the moral high ground against Plainview, his soul is quickly corrupted by greed and a need to overpower his adversary, demonstrating how religion can be poisoned by capitalism. If you come into the film looking for a plot, you may find yourself disappointed. However, if you're after a story filled with big, overarching themes that explore the very essence of human nature, almost like a biblical parable, you might find There Will Be Blood to be a stone-cold masterpiece. 

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

The Social Network

The Social Network

Based on true events, The Social Network gives us an insight into the crazy drama behind the formation of Facebook, in which founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is sued by his co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) for squeezing him out of the business, as well as the Winklevoss twins (both played by Armie Hammer), who claim that Zuckerberg stole their idea for the whole site. With sharp, elegant direction from David Fincher (Fight Club, Gone Girl), a cracking script from Aaron Sorkin (The Newsroom, Steve Jobs), and a classic score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), The Social Network is one of the best films about the tech industry ever made. Needless to say, we certainly 'Like' this film.

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Good Will Hunting

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck became global megastars off the back of Good Will Hunting, each bagging an Oscar for writing the film's incredible screenplay. Damon plays Will, a troubled young man from the South Boston projects who is gifted with unparalleled intellect and a photographic memory. When his gift is discovered by a genius M.I.T. professor (Stellan Skarsgård), Will is sent to see a psychologist (Robin Williams) in an attempt to get his life back in order so that he can reach his full potential. A tear-jerking masterpiece.

IMDB Rating: 8.3,  Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Chopper

Playing Australia's most notorious criminal, Eric Bana absolutely disappears into the role of Chopper Read. At the time, it was unthinkable that the TV funnyman could convince in such a dark and intense role, but his comedic edge, backed by the hulking frame he developed for the film, turned out to be a match made in heaven. Perhaps the best and most quotable Aussie true(ish) crime movie ever made. 

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%

Moonlight

Winner of the Best Picture award at the 2017 Oscars, Moonlight is a shattering chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and adulthood of a gay African-American male. Told in three segments, the lead role of Chiron is portrayed by three different actors, each facing the struggles of growing up in a poor neighbourhood in Miami. Burdened by drug-addicted mother, Chiron's only guidance comes from an unlikely source in local drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali in his Oscar winning role). Gripping and powerful, Moonlight is a triumph.

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 98% 

Animal Kingdom

After the death of his mum, Joshua (James Frecheville) is forced to live with his maternal grandmother (Jacki Weaver), the matriarch of a crime family that starts to fall apart after the after one of her sons is killed by police and the others kill a random cop in retaliation. Will Joshua fall into this cycle of violence, or will he resist it? Playing out like a Greek tragedy in the suburbs of Melbourne, Animal Kingdom is one of the most powerful Australian films of all time.

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Raging Bull

Based on the life of real life boxing champ Ray LaMotta (Robert De Niro giving what is perhaps the most powerful performance of his career), Raging Bull explores a man gripped by insecurity – one who'd rather get his face bashed in than confront his own demons. Abusive to his wife (Cathy Moriarty) and violent towards his brother (Joe Pesci, also magnificent), LaMotta frequently attempts to pay for his sins in the ring, each gruelling fight feeling like a culmination of his troubles at home. De Niro famously packed on the kilos to portray an out of shape LaMotta past his prime, but that's arguably the least impressive aspect of this amazingly raw and ferocious performance. One of director Martin Scorsese's greatest achievements, Raging Bull is a gripping study of toxic masculinity.

IMDB Rating: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Need a good laugh? Stan has a number of great comedies in its library, and these are some of our favourites. Here are the best comedies currently streaming on Stan.

Goon

Perhaps the best ice hockey movie since Slap Shot, Goon follows Doug 'The Thug' Glatt (Seann William Scott), a loveable meathead with fists of steel who becomes the enforcer on a minor-league hockey team. An enforcer's role is to forcibly protect his teammates and have their backs when opposing players mess with them on the ice. That also means handing out beatings, something that Glatt is quite adept at doing. But when famously-ruthless enforcer Ross 'The Boss' Rhea returns from suspension (for seriously injuring the star player of Doug's team), he and Glatt are destined to throw down in a bout of on-ice fisticuffs for the ages where only one man will walk away. A sports comedy with Fight Club-level violence, Goon might be a bit much for the squeamish. That said, if you're well aware of how bloody ice hockey can be and think you can handle it, this is a seriously great sports movie. If you do like what you see, you might also want to hit up its sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, which is also on Stan.

IMDB Rating: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

Ghostbusters

When there's something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters, that's who! Released in 1984, Ivan Reitman's spooky comedy achieved instant-classic status, thanks in part to a brilliant and hilarious script by stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. But it would be Bill Murray's burgeoning star-power and wise-ass demeanour that would bring the whole film, which is about ghost hunting scientists in New York City, together so perfectly. Equal-parts hair-raising and rib-tickling, Ghostbusters is a positively ghoulish movie that the whole family can enjoy. 

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Zoolander

Though it wasn't immediately loved at release, Zoolander has grown over the years into an honest-to-goodness comedy classic. Ben Stiller is the titular beef-witted male model that is duped into a plot to assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister. Owen Wilson plays Hansel, an up-and-coming rival to Zoolander. Though the two initially hate each other, they soon come together in an attempt to stop the evil plan that has been orchestrated by the truly ridiculous fashion designer, Mugatu (Will Ferrell). Backed with quotable lines and hilarious scenes, Zoolander is really, really, really, ridiculously funny. 

IMDB Rating: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 64%

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Jim Carrey was an unstoppable force in the early nineties, and along with The Mark and Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective solidified him as the world's biggest comedy star. Carrey plays a ridiculously over-the-top private dick who specialises in animal-related cases. When the NFL's Miami Dolphins mascot is stolen, it's up to Ace to find out where it is and who was behind it. Cue a whole lot of hilarious tomfoolery!

IMDB Rating: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 46%

American Ultra


Like Pineapple Express meets The Bourne Identity, American Ultra is much better than it has any right to be. Jesse Eisenberg plays a stoner convenience store clerk who hears some specific words and is promptly activated into a CIA killing machine. In an effort to cover up this mess, the agency sends two agents (Topher Grace and Connie Britton) to neutralise the situation, but things don't fly as smoothly as they'd hoped. Playing opposite Kristen Stewart, Eisenberg does a decent job of playing an action hero. Funny and surprisingly violent and action packed, American Ultra is an underrated gem. 

IMDB Rating: 6.1

In Bruges

A hilariously dark comedy about hit men who must lay low in Belgium after a hit gone wrong, In Bruges is the type of movie that will have you laughing uncontrollably one minute, then crying the next. Writer/director Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) delivers a witty script filled with sudden moments of brutal violence that will leave you speechless. 

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

If you're a fan of muscular action films, you've come to the right place. Stan has a great selection of high-octane, testosterone-fuelled movies for adrenaline junkies. Here are our picks for best action movies on Stan.

The Expendables

The film that rounded up some of the greatest action movie stars of the '80s and '90s (along with a couple of newcomers), Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables will bring a huge smile to the face of anyone who grew up during this high-testosterone era. Joining Stallone are the likes of Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Terry Crews and more. While the film itself is far from perfect, we can't help but get a kick out of seeing our heroes fighting alongside each other. 

IMDB Rating: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 42%

Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino's grand homage to exploitation cinema, Kill Bill sees star Uma Thurman go on a roaring rampage of revenge, killing everyone who was involved in her attempted assassination. Fresh out of a coma after several years, this former assassin will make her old associates pay, one-by-one, for ruining her life. And when that's done, she's taking her blood-drenched katana on a trip to meet Bill (David Carradine), her former boss and lover. Split into two pieces (both of which are now streaming on Stan), Kill Bill is a violent revenge masterpiece. 

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

The Terminator

James Cameron made his career with this time travel-themed action thriller, which also worked to solidify Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the biggest stars on the planet. Arnold plays a Terminator – a cyborg killing machine that's sent back in time to kill a great military leader's mother (Linda Hamilton) before he's ever conceived. This mother's child will eventually be responsible for defeating the machines in the distant future. Thankfully, a human soldier (Michael Biehn) has also travelled back in time to protect her. Perfectly mixing action, sci-fi and horror, The Terminator is a white-knuckle experience from beginning to end.

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Mad Max

Long before he reached Fury Road, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) was a highway cop in a particularly rough part of Australia – his beat ravaged by murderous and borderline savage street cretins. When Max's family and partner are killed by a gang with a vendetta, he gets mad. Extremely mad. One of Australian cinema's most classic films, Mad Max is high-octane revenge thriller that boasts some of the greatest scenes of vehicular carnage ever committed to celluloid. Max would eventually end up in a post-apocalyptic future, but his humble origins should never be forgotten.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

The Nice Guys

Shane Black, writer and director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, returns to the world of gumshoe detectives with The Nice Guys, a smart and funny mystery that establishes Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a comedic match made in heaven. Set in the late '70s, Crowe's tough guy enforcer teams up with Gosling's bumbling private eye to solve the mystery of a dead porn star. Filled with hilarious one-liners and terrific action sequences, The Nice Guys is the kind of movie they really don't make anymore, which makes its very existence something of a miracle, wouldn't you say?

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

We all like a good thriller, and Stan is chock-full of them. If you want a film that will have you on the edge of your seat, you've come to the right place. Below is a list of some of the best thrillers currently available on Stan.

Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal is incredibly creepy as Louis Bloom, a man who makes money by filming grisly crime footage and selling it to news stations in Los Angeles. Driven by greed and hubris, Louis starts blurring the line between observer and active participant, eventually instigating violent incidents in order to get the scoop. A cutting commentary on our modern news cycle obsession, Nightcrawler is a riveting thriller with terrific performances.

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Wake in Fright

An absolutely brilliant and confronting critique of Australian drinking culture and 'mateship', Canadian director Ted Kotchoff (First Blood) does not hold back at all when it comes to showing some of our country's uglier aspects with Wake in Fright. A school teacher finds himself trapped in an Outback mining town after losing all his money in a two-up game, leading him to go on a night of binge-drinking, fighting and kangaroo shooting with some unhinged locals. It's safe to say that he may never be the same again after this night...

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 100% 

Léon: The Professional

French director Luc Besson has made several cult classic films (The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita, The Big Blue), but perhaps none is more beloved than Léon: The Professional. Notable for being Natalie Portman's first film, Léon tells the story of a lonely assassin (Jean Reno) who befriends a young girl after her whole family is killed by a crooked cop (Gary Oldman). Violent and thrilling, yet filled with warmth and heart, Léon: The Professional is bloody fantastic. 

IMDB Rating: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Science fiction films offer us visions of the future (well, from the perspective of the times in which they were made) that open our minds to the possibilities of what humankind might be capable of, in both the good and bad sense. These are some of the best sci-fi films on Stan.

Blade Runner

Ridley Scott's thought-provoking cyberpunk masterpiece wasn't fully appreciated until a decade after its release, where it received a director's cut that addressed and excised some of the studio interference that plagued the theatrical version of the film. Harrison Ford plays Deckard, the titular Blade Runner. He's a cop of sorts whose job is to hunt down and eliminate rogue replicants, which are like artificial humans created as off-world slave labour. When a group of them decide they'd rather live, going on a killing spree in the process, Deckard sets out to take them down, but maybe this time it won't be so easy... 

IMDB Rating: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

RoboCop

A cutting satire of corporate greed in the '80s, Robocop is more than the sum of its parts. Brilliantly directed by Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Starship Troopers), the film sees a rookie cop viciously murdered by a group of criminals, only to be revived by a corporation and used as a robotic crime-fighting product. Pretty soon, his memories start to return, and it's only a matter of time before he tracks down his killers and discovers the real intents of his makers. 

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

The Matrix

A science fiction classic, The Matrix is a cautionary tale about artificial intelligence packaged as an action-packed, visual effects spectacular. Inspired by martial arts films, anime and cyberpunk literature, The Matrix sees Neo (Keanu Reeves) discover that the world as we know it is an elaborate computer simulation that masks the real truth – Earth is a wasteland and humans are being kept alive in chambers to act as the batteries powering our new machine overlords. Whoa. 

IMDB Rating: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg is known for making heart-warming, sentimental movies, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial might be the one that best embodies that. A classic family film about a lonely kid (Henry Thomas) who develops a bond with a friendly alien marooned on our planet, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is capable of melting even the coldest of hearts. 

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%


Fri, 13 Jul 2018 04:30:11 +0000
The best movies on Stan: a list of the top films streaming in Australia now
Stan has a huge selection of movies to choose from, so we've taken the liberty of picking out some of the best ones for you.

YouTube has always allowed you to delete selected items from your watch history, but now Android users can take that a step further. The YouTube app's new Incognito Mode will let you watch videos without ever leaving a digital trail of evidence in the first place (your IP address will still be recorded, so it's probably best that you don't go crazy at work).

To initiate Incognito Mode in the YouTube app, tap on your Account icon. Here, you'll find 'Turn on Incognito' located just above the Settings cog. From this point on, your viewing history will not be recorded. 

While it's nice of YouTube to introduce the sneaky feature, it must be said that it's a little flawed in its execution. For instance, attempting to watch age-restricted content while Incognito will require you to switch off the mode and sign into your account again, effectively rendering the feature somewhat pointless.

Hello and welcome to the Incognito video

Essentially, switching on Incognito Mode offers you the exact same YouTube experience that you'd get if you never bothered signing in at all — along with an inability to watch mature content, you won't be able to comment, like, add favorites or subscribe to channels. 

That said, the process of switching off the feature and getting back to your regular account is a great deal quicker than having to go through the usual login process.

If for some reason you're desperate to keep your obsessive viewing of family-friendly content a secret from those close to you (perhaps you're embarrassed about binging all those Bieber videos), YouTube's Incognito Mode will do the trick. 

While Incognito Mode is already available in the Android YouTube app (version 13.25.56), there's still no word on when the iOS version will be updated to include the feature, but we anticipate it will be soon. We'll bring you further information as it develops. 


Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:35:00 +0000
YouTube gets covert with new Incognito mode for Android
A new feature for the YouTube Android app allows you to watch videos without leaving a trail of evidence.

Best TVs for Gaming Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best 4K TVs for PS4 and Xbox you can buy for any budget in 2018. 

If you're like us, you use the Xbox One X and  PS4 Pro every single day. And while you could hook them up to any old 1080p TV, if you want the best picture quality, you're going to have to net yourself a nice 4K TV

When the original Xbox One and PS4 consoles came out, it looked like video games - on consoles, at least - had opted to sit out the 4K revolution that was already sweeping the TV world: Both consoles were originally resolutely HD-only, and there wasn’t so much as a sniff of support for the high dynamic range (HDR) technology that was just joining 4K on the TV scene.

Skip forward three years and mid-generation hardware updates have given us consoles capable of outputting both 4K and HDR for video and gaming purposes. 

While this is all brilliant news for the quality of our gaming experiences, though, it puts ever more pressure on your TV. A console can have all the power in the world, but if it’s attached to a TV that can’t harness that power it might as well be a ZX Spectrum. Well, not quite, but you get our point.

Unlocking the good stuff

So what exactly does a TV need to be able to do these days to unlock your full gaming potential? Let’s start with arguably the most basic requirement: 4K.

Resolution revolution: The Xbox One S outputs all of its games in 4K, achieved via surprisingly good built-in upscaling. 

The PS4 Pro outputs games in 4K too, using a mix of upscaling and in-game enhancement. The Xbox One X, meanwhile, has been designed with enough power to drive more games than ever before with native, game engine-integrated 4K support. Yes, you can still get non-4K Xbox One and PS4 consoles, and the Nintendo Switch isn’t interested in 4K either. And yes, non-4K games will have to be upscaled by a 4K TV, so won’t be totally ‘pure’. However, upscaling is remarkably good on the best 4K TVs now, and can be done without adding significant delay to the time it takes a TV to render pictures.

4K resolution can be transformative, especially on big screens. And basically 4K is just the way everything is going now (both in the gaming and video worlds), so not being set up for it with your new TV just doesn’t make sense.

Change your range: Sitting right alongside 4K in today’s video world is high dynamic range (HDR) technology. This delivers pictures with a much wider light range than the standard dynamic range pictures we’ve been living with for decades in a bid to get the pictures we’re seeing on our screens looking closer to the way our eyes see the real world.

The Xbox One S supports HDR on some of its games, and via some of its streaming apps. The same situation applies for both the PS4 and PS4 Pro, and naturally the Xbox One X will deliver HDR too. Most people would say that HDR done well delivers more impact than 4K, especially on small screens. 

The only problem is that HDR puts a lot of pressure on a TV, since it demands both much more brightness than SDR, and better contrast so that the extra brightness and deeper blacks can potentially share the screen simultaneously. In fact, HDR done badly can look worse than SDR done decently well; something to think about if you’re considering buying a very cheap TV.

Let there be light! One of the most important elements of a good HDR performance is brightness. Many movies and games target 1000 nits or so for their brightest elements, so if you have a TV less bright than that it won’t unlock HDR’s full potential. Especially in a video game environment, where graphics can be more stark in contrast terms than ‘real life’ tends to be.

It’s perfectly possible for TVs to deliver great HDR pictures without reaching 1000 nits and more of brightness. This is particularly true with OLED screens, for instance. But the darker a screen, the harder its processing is going to have to work to try and figure out how to resolve picture information in HDR areas above its capabilities.

Lag? Lame! If you’re a really serious gamer - especially when it comes to reaction-based online games - you need to care about input lag: The time it takes for a particular TV to render image data received at its inputs. Obviously you’re looking for low numbers if you don’t want to be shot in the face by an opponent your TV hasn’t even shown yet!

Again, manufacturers don’t tend to provide input lag figures in their provided specifications. However, we generally measure input lag on the TVs we test. Also, I’ve provided the input lag measurements for all of our recommended TVs.

Roger that – over and out: Sound design has always played an integral part in a great gaming experience. It’s getting taken to another level these days, though, with the arrival of surround sound gaming. In fact, the Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles even support Dolby Atmos: Dolby’s most advanced sound system yet, which introduces a height channel and ‘object based’ precision to the soundstage.

With impressively good timing, LG is about to roll out support for Dolby Atmos over HDMI to its 2017 OLED TVs (some of which ship with integrated sound bars) any moment now. Also, while integrated Atmos support isn’t found elsewhere yet, this year has seen a surge in TVs featuring really powerful sound systems. So unless you’re thinking of investing in an external sound system, it will certainly pay you to have sound as well as picture quality in mind when you buy your gaming TV.

Things to pay attention to are whether speakers are facing forwards (as this will almost always give you a more direct, clean sound); rated power output; whether there’s a dedicated bass speaker (often found on a TV’s rear); built-in soundbars; and the number of individual speakers used.

The chosen ones

OK, now that the essential buying advice done and you're an AV expert, let’s now pick out our selection of the best gaming TVs you can currently buy, taking in a combination of price and sheer quality.

This high-end 65-inch Samsung set has a number of unique gaming-friendly advantages. For starters, unique screen filters mean that pictures are almost completely unaffected by ambient light. And trust us: being able to game in daylight and enjoy pictures that look as intense, bright and contrast rich as they do in a dark room is nothing short of a revelation. The set resolves 4K resolutions majestically too, while its heavy duty build quality enables it to produce a fairly potent and distortion-free audio performance (despite its having seemingly no visible speakers). If all that wasn’t exciting enough, the QN65Q9FN blows out the competition with an exceptionally low 12ms of input lag when using its Game mode. That said, the QN65Q9FN can suffer with some gentle light clouding issues during very high contrast HDR sequences, and it’s also, alas, painfully expensive. 

Read the review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV

LG OLED55C6V

While the LG E8 OLED doesn’t have nearly as much HDR-friendly brightness as the Samsung Q9FN range, it’s stunning when it comes to the other end of the brightness story, delivering gorgeously rich, deep black colours completely free of the sort of clouding issues that LCD TVs suffer with. Also, while OLED can’t yet go as measurably bright as LCD, the way the darkest pixel in an OLED picture can sit right next to the brightest with no contamination between the two gives the OLED55E8’s pictures a lovely luminous quality that’s particularly effective during dark game settings.

Gamers, meanwhile, will be delighted to hear that unlike its previous two predecessors, the OLED E8 no longer dims the picture down heavily when running in its low-latency HDR Game mode. It also supports 120fps gaming at HD resolutions, full 4:4:4 PC colour, and a superbly low input lag figure of under 20ms.  

Read the review: LG E8 OLED

Sony W809

Sony’s XE9305 range is unique in the LCD TV world for using two light guide plates. This essentially gives it twice as much control over how much light reaches different parts of the screen as you get with other edge-lit LCD TVs.

As a result, the 55-inch 55XE9305 – XBR-55X930E in the US – can put ferociously bright HDR highlights (up to 1400 nits and more) on the screen alongside deep blacks more effectively than any other edge LCD to date.

Colours also look superbly rich and vibrant thanks to Sony’s Triluminos processing, and no brands handle motion as slickly as Sony. You can sometimes see traces of light ‘blocking’ around stand-out HDR objects, but for the most part the 55XE9305’s pictures are blisteringly bright gaming nirvana.

The only niggle is the 55XE9305’s input lag figure of around 38ms. This is slightly higher than we’d ideally see, and occasionally momentarily slips to 52ms.

Read the full review: Sony XBR-X930E / KD-XE93 Series

Everyone loves a high-end TV. LG’s latest OLED, Samsung’s spectacularly bright QLED and Sony’s phenomenal LED-LCDs are applauded year round for their amazing performance, picture technologies and technical prowess. 

Too bad these aren’t the TVs most people buy. 

If you're looking for a mid-range TV that has all the chops to play games in 4K HDR without skimping on the visuals, check out the Samsung NU8000 Series. It may not be as bright as some of the competition on this page, but give its HDR+ mode a chance, and you'd be surprised at what this underdog can do.

Read the full review: Samsung NU8000

Panasonic 40DX600

Panasonic’s latest LCD TV might not be as bright as most of its rivals, but it does have a rather cool trick up its sleeve: new digitally enhanced backlight technology that adjusts the angle of each pixel to reduce the usual light clouding problems associated with LCD technology. This gives you dark gaming scenes more uniformity, making it easier to remain immersed in the action.

The 50EX750 also stands out from the crowd for gaming with its outstanding 10ms of input lag when using its gaming mode. Frustratingly you actually get comfortably the best picture quality from the 50EX750 if you use its Dynamic picture preset - but you could always stick with Dynamic for most of your gaming and only switch to Game when you’re playing something where reaction times are really important.

Samsung UE65KS9500

While the OLED55B7 lacks the ultra-glamorous design and built-in soundbar of the LG OLED55E7 higher up this list, remarkably it delivers almost exactly the same high level of contrast-rich picture quality for a whole lot less.

Input lag remains equally strong at just 21ms too, and while it’s important to stress again that OLED’s 740 nits of peak brightness limits the impact of its HDR pictures in some ways, its ability to place deep black colours just a pixel away.

Read the review: LG OLED B7 

Samsung UE32K5600

One of our final recommendations for a gaming TV is another big one. This gives us the chance to raise one final issue about gaming on today’s consoles and PCs compared with previous generations: that you really have to think big if you’re going to get anything like the ultimate gaming experience.

This is partly because you need a relatively large screen to get the most from 4K resolutions, but also because the main TV brands are increasingly only building truly HDR-friendly colour, contrast and brightness performances into their relatively large - and, alas, expensive - TVs.

Even a 55-inch Sony model struggles for brightness a little in its bid to make 4K HDR pictures relatively affordable. However, it does a great job with colours within that brightness limitation thanks to Sony’s Triluminos processing engine, while its black level performance is outstanding for such an affordable and edge-lit LCD model. It also only suffers with 21ms of input lag on average - though oddly, lag occasionally slips to around 50ms for a frame or two.

Philips 65PUS7601

The 65PUS7601 boasts arguably the single most aggressively game-friendly feature on this list, in the shape of its Ambilight system. Ambilight uses LED lights ranged along the TV's rear left, right and top edges to throw out coloured lights that can be continually matched in terms of shade, intensity and even location to the colours in the picture you're watching; the result is greatly enhanced connection with what you're watching, something that's especially useful where gaming is concerned. The Ambilight system even features a dedicated gaming mode, designed to react faster than normal to changes in your game graphics. The 65PUS7601 also provides generally strong (for its reasonably low price) 4K and HDR picture quality, and you can get input lag down to only around 30ms if you're careful how you set it up. The set even features a dedicated HDR game mode that adjusts the HDR processing to suit the relatively stark and precise look of game graphics versus 'natural' video.

A little more buying advice for the road...

If you want to learn more about shopping for gaming TVs, we've added a bit more info below. Read on to level up your AV knowledge skill!

Bits and B.O.B.s: Connected to the HDR point, you might want to think about your gaming TV’s bit depth. The best HDR experience requires a 10-bit screen able to support 1024 values of each RGB colour - otherwise you will get an inferior colour performance, including, possibly, colour striping where you should see subtle blends. Most premium HDR TVs these days are 10-bit, but it’s far from a given at the relatively affordable end of the TV market.

The Xbox One S and PS4 consoles automatically assess the bit-depth of your TV and select the optimum HDR video output accordingly. The Xbox One S even provides a description of your TV’s capabilities under 4K TV Details in its Advanced Video Settings menu. The Xbox One X will presumably do the same.

To be clear, it’s entirely possible for an 8-bit TV to deliver a good HDR colour performance if they have a strong video processing engine. But 10-bit panels certainly have an immediate advantage.

One other point to add here is that some TVs - including high-end Samsung models - actually support 12-bit colour management/processing, even though their panels are only natively 10-bit. The Xbox One S and presumably Xbox One X both provide Colour Depth boxes in their Video Fidelity settings that let you select the maximum bit performance for your particular TV.

Colour purity: Another advanced setting but important thing to consider for the ultimate gaming visuals is chroma subsampling.

This video compression term refers to a TV’s colour purity, and is usually written in such terms as 4:4:4 and 4:2:0. These numbers reveal how many pixels colour is sampled from in the top and bottom rows for every two rows of four pixels. So with 4:2:0, for instance, colour is being sampled from two pixels in the top row and no pixels in the bottom row.

From this it follows that the bigger the numbers are, the purer the colour performance will be, as there’s less ‘guesstimating’ of what colours should look like. The problem is, full 4:4:4 colour support requires a lot of extra image data, and so cannot be handled by the HDMI connections or processing of all TVs.

In truth, the differences in picture quality between 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 and even 4:2:0 aren’t usually enormous. They can be more pronounced with gaming graphics than video, though, so it’s worth trying to check what a TV you’re thinking of buying can support - even though it’s not information regularly carried in TV spec lists. The latest consoles are pretty good at detecting the optimum chroma subsampling a TV can support, automatically adjusting their outputs according.

It’s something that can cause annoying ‘handshaking’ issues with some TVs, though, so both the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro now provide subsampling ‘limiter’ options in their video output menus (‘Enable 4:2:2’ on the Xbox One S, and 2160 YUV4:2:0 on the PS4 Pro). 

Frame rate handling: Now that the Xbox One X is almost here and promising native 4K resolution games running at 60 frames a second, make sure that whatever TV you buy has the latest specification HDMI sockets. If it doesn’t have at least one HDMI socket built to the v2.0a specification, it won’t be able to receive 4K resolution at anything higher than 30 frames a second.

Fortunately far more of this year’s 4K TVs do feature HDMI 2.0a sockets than in previous years, but it’s still something that’s worth double checking - especially if you’re buying a particularly cheap TV.

Now you know everything there is to know about gaming TVs! 


Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:20:00 +0000
Best 4K TVs for gaming: 8 TVs that pair nicely with your PS4 and Xbox One
Going all-in on a gaming TV? Here are a few top-tier options to help you put the smack down on your opponents.

 Best TVs for Gaming Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best 4K TVs for PS4 and Xbox you can buy for any budget in 2018.  

If you're a console gamer, finding the right TV can be a hassle. PC gamers have it easy - all they need to do is find a monitor with a 4K resolution and wickedly fast refresh rate and hit the buy button. Us console gamers have it tougher.

That said, nothing is impossible. No high score is too high and no achievement is locked forever. Just like every other challenge, you can conquer this, too.

The good news is that you have an ally on the field of battle - us! We're here to help you pick out the best 4K HDR TV that plays nicely with all your consoles, whether you're a member of PlayStation Nation with a PS4 and PS4 Pro, or an Xbox Elite and boast the Xbox One X or Xbox One S. Us console gamers gotta stick together. 

Specc'd to win

So what exactly does a TV need to be able to do these days to unlock your full gaming potential? Let’s start with arguably the most basic requirement: 4K.

Resolution revolution: The Xbox One S outputs all of its games in 4K, achieved via surprisingly good built-in upscaling. 

The PS4 Pro outputs games in 4K too, using a mix of upscaling and in-game enhancement. The Xbox One X, meanwhile, has been designed with enough power to drive more games than ever before with native, game engine-integrated 4K support. Yes, you can still get non-4K Xbox One and PS4 consoles, and the Nintendo Switch isn’t interested in 4K either. And yes, non-4K games will have to be upscaled by a 4K TV, so won’t be totally ‘pure’. However, upscaling is remarkably good on the best 4K TVs now, and can be done without adding significant delay to the time it takes a TV to render pictures.

4K resolution can be transformative, especially on big screens. And basically 4K is just the way everything is going now (both in the gaming and video worlds), so not being set up for it with your new TV just doesn’t make sense.

Change your range: Sitting right alongside 4K in today’s video world is high dynamic range (HDR) technology. This delivers pictures with a much wider light range than the standard dynamic range pictures we’ve been living with for decades in a bid to get the pictures we’re seeing on our screens looking closer to the way our eyes see the real world.

The Xbox One S supports HDR on some of its games, and via some of its streaming apps. The same situation applies for both the PS4 and PS4 Pro, and naturally the Xbox One X will deliver HDR too. Most people would say that HDR done well delivers more impact than 4K, especially on small screens. 

The only problem is that HDR puts a lot of pressure on a TV, since it demands both much more brightness than SDR, and better contrast so that the extra brightness and deeper blacks can potentially share the screen simultaneously. In fact, HDR done badly can look worse than SDR done decently well; something to think about if you’re considering buying a very cheap TV.

Let there be light! One of the most important elements of a good HDR performance is brightness. Many movies and games target 1000 nits or so for their brightest elements, so if you have a TV less bright than that it won’t unlock HDR’s full potential. Especially in a video game environment, where graphics can be more stark in contrast terms than ‘real life’ tends to be.

It’s perfectly possible for TVs to deliver great HDR pictures without reaching 1000 nits and more of brightness. This is particularly true with OLED screens, for instance. But the darker a screen, the harder its processing is going to have to work to try and figure out how to resolve picture information in HDR areas above its capabilities.

Change your range: Sitting right alongside 4K in today’s video world is high dynamic range (HDR) technology. This delivers pictures with a much wider light range than the standard dynamic range pictures we’ve been living with for decades in a bid to get the pictures we’re seeing on our screens looking closer to the way our eyes see the real world.

The Xbox One S supports HDR on some of its games, and via some of its streaming apps. The same situation applies for both the PS4 and PS4 Pro, and naturally the Xbox One X will deliver HDR too. Most people would say that HDR done well delivers more impact than 4K, especially on small screens. 

The only problem is that HDR puts a lot of pressure on a TV, since it demands both much more brightness than SDR, and better contrast so that the extra brightness and deeper blacks can potentially share the screen simultaneously. In fact, HDR done badly can look worse than SDR done decently well; something to think about if you’re considering buying a very cheap TV.

Let there be light! One of the most important elements of a good HDR performance is brightness. Many movies and games target 1000 nits or so for their brightest elements, so if you have a TV less bright than that it won’t unlock HDR’s full potential. Especially in a video game environment, where graphics can be more stark in contrast terms than ‘real life’ tends to be.

It’s perfectly possible for TVs to deliver great HDR pictures without reaching 1000 nits and more of brightness. This is particularly true with OLED screens, for instance. But the darker a screen, the harder its processing is going to have to work to try and figure out how to resolve picture information in HDR areas above its capabilities.

The chosen ones 

OK, now that the essential buying advice done and you're an AV expert, let’s now pick out our selection of the best gaming TVs you can currently buy, taking in a combination of price and sheer quality. 

This high-end 65-inch Samsung set has a number of unique gaming-friendly advantages. For starters, unique screen filters mean that pictures are almost completely unaffected by ambient light. And trust us: being able to game in daylight and enjoy pictures that look as intense, bright and contrast rich as they do in a dark room is nothing short of a revelation. The set resolves 4K resolutions majestically too, while its heavy duty build quality enables it to produce a fairly potent and distortion-free audio performance (despite its having seemingly no visible speakers). If all that wasn’t exciting enough, the QN65Q9FN blows out the competition with an exceptionally low 12ms of input lag when using its Game mode. That said, the QN65Q9FN can suffer with some gentle light clouding issues during very high contrast HDR sequences, and it’s also, alas, painfully expensive. 

Read the review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV

While the LG E8 OLED doesn’t have nearly as much HDR-friendly brightness as the Samsung Q9FN range, it’s stunning when it comes to the other end of the brightness story, delivering gorgeously rich, deep black colours completely free of the sort of clouding issues that LCD TVs suffer with. Also, while OLED can’t yet go as measurably bright as LCD, the way the darkest pixel in an OLED picture can sit right next to the brightest with no contamination between the two gives the OLED55E8’s pictures a lovely luminous quality that’s particularly effective during dark game settings.

Gamers, meanwhile, will be delighted to hear that unlike its previous two predecessors, the OLED E8 no longer dims the picture down heavily when running in its low-latency HDR Game mode. It also supports 120fps gaming at HD resolutions, full 4:4:4 PC colour, and a superbly low input lag figure of under 20ms.  

Read the review: LG E8 OLED

While Samsung’s Q7FN is not quite up to par with the class-leading Q9FN, it's a great compromise between price and performance offering a bright screen, three forms of HDR and incredibly accurate colors for  $1,799 (£1,999, AU$3,699).

Ambient Mode adds a design aesthetic sure to please even the keenest of eyes (i.e. mom and dad) and its low-latency game mode makes it a competent companion for the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. HDR+ mode helps liven up HD/SDR content and of course 4K/HDR content has an eye-watering sheen when viewed on this set so it's still a great TV when it's time to turn the console off for the night.

Read the full review: Samsung Q7FN QLED TV  

Everyone loves a high-end TV. LG’s latest OLED, Samsung’s spectacularly bright QLED and Sony’s phenomenal LED-LCDs are applauded year round for their amazing performance, picture technologies and technical prowess. 

Too bad these aren’t the TVs most people buy. 

If you're looking for a mid-range TV that has all the chops to play games in 4K HDR without skimping on the visuals, check out the Samsung NU8000 Series. It may not be as bright as some of the competition on this page, but give its HDR+ mode a chance, and you'd be surprised at what this underdog can do.

Read the full review: Samsung NU8000

One of second-to-last recommendation for a gaming TV is another big one. This gives us the chance to raise one final issue about gaming on today’s consoles and PCs compared with previous generations: that you really have to think big if you’re going to get anything like the ultimate gaming experience.

This is partly because you need a relatively large screen to get the most from 4K resolutions, but also because the main TV brands are increasingly only building truly HDR-friendly color, contrast and brightness performances into their relatively large - and, alas, expensive - TVs.

Even a 55-inch Sony model struggles for brightness a little in its bid to make 4K HDR pictures relatively affordable. However, it does a great job with colors within that brightness limitation thanks to Sony’s Triluminos processing engine, while its black level performance is outstanding for such an affordable and edge-lit LCD model. It also only suffers with 21ms of input lag on average - though oddly, lag occasionally slips to around 50ms for a frame or two.

Read the full review: Sony XBR-X850E

A little more buying advice for the road... 

If you want to learn more about shopping for gaming TVs, we've added a bit more info below. Read on to level up your AV knowledge skill!

Bits and B.O.B.s: Connected to the HDR point, you might want to think about your gaming TV’s bit depth. The best HDR experience requires a 10-bit screen able to support 1024 values of each RGB colour - otherwise you will get an inferior colour performance, including, possibly, colour striping where you should see subtle blends. Most premium HDR TVs these days are 10-bit, but it’s far from a given at the relatively affordable end of the TV market.

The Xbox One S and PS4 consoles automatically assess the bit-depth of your TV and select the optimum HDR video output accordingly. The Xbox One S even provides a description of your TV’s capabilities under 4K TV Details in its Advanced Video Settings menu. The Xbox One X will presumably do the same.

To be clear, it’s entirely possible for an 8-bit TV to deliver a good HDR colour performance if they have a strong video processing engine. But 10-bit panels certainly have an immediate advantage.

One other point to add here is that some TVs - including high-end Samsung models - actually support 12-bit colour management/processing, even though their panels are only natively 10-bit. The Xbox One S and presumably Xbox One X both provide Colour Depth boxes in their Video Fidelity settings that let you select the maximum bit performance for your particular TV.

Colour purity: Another advanced setting but important thing to consider for the ultimate gaming visuals is chroma subsampling.

This video compression term refers to a TV’s colour purity, and is usually written in such terms as 4:4:4 and 4:2:0. These numbers reveal how many pixels colour is sampled from in the top and bottom rows for every two rows of four pixels. So with 4:2:0, for instance, colour is being sampled from two pixels in the top row and no pixels in the bottom row.

From this it follows that the bigger the numbers are, the purer the color performance will be, as there’s less ‘guesstimating’ of what colors should look like. The problem is, full 4:4:4 color support requires a lot of extra image data, and so cannot be handled by the HDMI connections or processing of all TVs.

In truth, the differences in picture quality between 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 and even 4:2:0 aren’t usually enormous. They can be more pronounced with gaming graphics than video, though, so it’s worth trying to check what a TV you’re thinking of buying can support - even though it’s not information regularly carried in TV spec lists. The latest consoles are pretty good at detecting the optimum chroma subsampling a TV can support, automatically adjusting their outputs according.

It’s something that can cause annoying ‘handshaking’ issues with some TVs, though, so both the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro now provide subsampling ‘limiter’ options in their video output menus (‘Enable 4:2:2’ on the Xbox One S, and 2160 YUV4:2:0 on the PS4 Pro). 

Frame rate handling: Now that the Xbox One X is almost here and promising native 4K resolution games running at 60 frames a second, make sure that whatever TV you buy has the latest specification HDMI sockets. If it doesn’t have at least one HDMI socket built to the v2.0a specification, it won’t be able to receive 4K resolution at anything higher than 30 frames a second.

Fortunately far more of this year’s 4K TVs do feature HDMI 2.0a sockets than in previous years, but it’s still something that’s worth double checking - especially if you’re buying a particularly cheap TV.

Now you know everything there is to know about gaming TVs! 


Wed, 11 Jul 2018 22:50:00 +0000
Best 4K TVs for gaming: 5 TVs that pair nicely with your PS4 and Xbox One
Going all-in on a gaming TV? Here are a few top-tier options to help you put the smack down on your opponents.

Best 4K TVs Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best 4K TVs you can buy for any budget in 2018.

There has never been a better time to buy a 4K Ultra-HD TV. The technology is better now than it's ever been, and 4K content has become the new norm for streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, as well as Blu-ray discs.

Yes, far from being the niche technology that it was a few years ago, 4K (also known as Ultra HD) is the 4x improvement your TV has been waiting for. 

But making a good 4K TVs isn't just about how many pixels you can push to a screen; it's about the quality of those pixels. To that end, there's even newer technology that we're excited about, like High Dynamic Range and Wide Colour Gamut, that promise to take all those new pixels and make them truly shine. 

If the world of TV buying feels unapproachable when you're first getting into it, don't worry. Give it some time and it will all make sense. Plus, you've got us here to help you pick out the best 4K TV on the market.

Over the years, hundreds of TVs have passed through our reviewers' doorsteps. Using that wealth of experience, we've created a list of the best 4K TVs. We constantly update the list with the latest and greatest panels, so if you see things shuffled around a bit since the last time you were here, don't freak out.

Check out our video above for an introduction to the world of 4K. 

What you need to know about 4K TVs

Not only do these screens have four times the amount of pixels as their aged (but still-revered) 1080p brethren, but 4K screens also usually pack in screen technology like High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) that really make those extra pixels shine in all their glory. 

The last reason 4K TVs have taken off is that game consoles, like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, have totally embraced the 4K future, as have the Blu-ray industry and streaming video player market. Pretty much everyone is on board the 4K Ultra HD train these days. 

If all of this sounds weird or archaic or tough to understand, don't worry. We're here to help decipher the wild, wonderful world of Ultra HD. Give us a few minutes of your time and we'll help you get the best 4K TV on the market.

Why can you trust us? Well, over the years, hundreds of TVs have passed through our reviewers' doorsteps. Using that wealth of experience - plus some neat side-by-side comparisons - we've created a list of the best 4K TVs. 

We constantly update the list with the latest and greatest panels, so if you see things shuffled around a bit since the last time you were here, don't freak out. Embrace that times change and that these are the best TVs we've ever found.

Additional resources:

After an underwhelming debut, Samsung’s QLED technology really needed to bounce back in style in 2018. It didn't surprise us in the least, then, to discover Samsung threw the kitchen sink in with its new Q9FN QLED Series of TVs. 

As well as being even brighter and more colorful than last year’s equivalent model, Samsung's 2018 flagship screens use a completely different lighting system to combat its predecessor’s contrast problems: Full Array Local Dimming rather than edge-lit LED lighting. The FALD panel works in tandem with Samsung QLED Quantum Dots to produce a picture that's brighter and more colorful than near any we've seen come from the South Korean manufacturer. 

Do those features alone make Samsung Q9FN the best TV on the market? No, but throw in technology like HDR10+ and Q HDR EliteMax – what Samsung bills as its maximum High Dynamic Range experience that’s exclusive to the Q9FN – and there's very little doubt in our mind that this is Samsung's best TV ever. 

Read the full review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV (65Q9FN)

Short and sweet, the KDL-55XF9005 is a brilliant mid-priced TV. Every one of the improvements Sony has introduced over and above last year’s already excellent XE90 series – better processing, more brightness, slightly more backlight dimming zones, improved motion performance – delivers the goods, resulting in picture quality that humbles many more expensive TVs. 

Its Android TV system and some generally minor backlight clouding stop it short of perfection, but it’s hard to imagine any similarly priced upcoming 65-inch rival getting the better of it. 

Read the full review: Sony BRAVIA KDL-55XF9005

There's a very good reason that Hollywood video editors master on OLED TVs - they simply outmatch anything else on the market. 

And while LG and Sony certainly have their merits in this area (the former is the largest producer of OLED panels in the entire world, after all), Panasonic is certainly no slouch in this arena. All you need to do is look at the Panasonic FZ952, the latest OLED reference TV from Panasonic, to see why.

The FZ952 is a luscious OLED that puts performance first. Its colour handling is class-leading, and its HDR talents are a match for any of its rivals. In fact, it just might offer the best picture performance that we’ve seen on a 4K OLED to date. 

The FZ952 isn’t the complete package, lacking as it does Dolby Vision and Atmos compatibility, but it wins more arguments than it loses. We suspect you’ll appreciate the easy sophistication of its smart platform, the quality of that low-lag game mode, and the sheer musicality of the Technics soundbar.

Read the full review: Panasonic FZ952/FZ902 OLED

Best 4K TV

The 55A1 – and the A1 OLED series overall – are crowd pleasers in just about every way. Their ‘picture only’ design has been beautifully realized, managing to be simultaneously subtle and dramatic. Their vibrating screen delivers a far more powerful and effective sound performance than I’d thought possible, too. 

The real stars of the show here, though, are the A1’s exquisitely detailed, contrast-rich and colorful pictures. These prove emphatically what we’ve long suspected: More brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things. 

Read the full review: Sony A1 OLED

 We've long loved LG's B-Series of OLED TVs with last year's B7 OLED as the pinnacle of affordable OLED technology. But this year, LG has delayed the B-Series and has instead made the C-Series its front-running screen.   

While we're a bit miffed at the price increase from last year's B7 to this year's C8, it's hard to say it's unwarranted: LG’s C8 builds on the success of last year’s models, resulting in a TV that can deliver astonishing HD/SDR images and equally impressive 4K/HDR pictures. It’s not as bright as an LCD TV but those deep blacks make a huge difference to the dynamic range of the image. It’s also capable of vibrant and gorgeous colors, not to mention an astounding level of detail with native 4K content.

The WebOS smart platform remains the best available and the choice of streaming services is second to none. Once you add the gorgeous design and a comprehensive set of features, you have one of the most complete TVs that we’ve ever reviewed. 

Read the full review: LG C8 OLED (OLED55C8, OLED65C8)

The £2,000 TV market has started to get pretty congested this year, but Philips' OLED  does enough to stand out from the crowd. Its Ambilight system is as fun and appealing as it is unique, while its new P5 picture processing system takes Philips’ picture quality in an interesting and welcome new direction, trading a little of the brand’s customary dynamism for a lovely and immersive naturalism that many AV enthusiasts may find hard to resist.  

Overall, it's both a strong picture performer and unique enough in the way it goes about its picture business to stand as a genuine alternative to similarly priced OLED competitors. 

Read the full review: Philips POS9002

While Samsung’s Q7FN isn't quite the pinnacle of QLED technology - that honor is reserved for the Q9FN - it is a great compromise between price and performance, offering a bright screen, three forms of HDR and incredibly accurate colours for  £1,999 (around AU$3,699).

Ambient Mode adds a design aesthetic sure to please even the keenest of eyes and its low-latency game mode makes it a competent companion for the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. HDR+ mode helps liven up HD/SDR content and of course 4K/HDR content has an eye-watering sheen when viewed on this set. While the Q7FN isn’t the shining star of the QLED range, it’s still a bright spot in the mid-range.   

Read the full review: Samsung Q7FN QLED TV


Wed, 11 Jul 2018 22:45:00 +0000
Best 4K TV 2018: 7 awesome Ultra-HD TVs you need to see to believe
Don't settle for 1080p. These 4K TVs have incredible clarity, amazing colour and, of course, a 3840

Wed, 11 Jul 2018 06:48:00 +0000
Best 4K TV 2018: 8 awesome Ultra-HD TVs you need to see to believe
Need an awesome 4K TV? We've tested dozens of the best and can now safely crown the king of screens in 2018.

Update: Marvel's Black Panther and the Academy Award-winning films The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri have been added to our list of the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies — check out page 2, page 5 and page 6 to see why they made the cut!

In our busy lives, it’s truly difficult to make it down to the cinema to witness the cinematic splendor of all the newest films like It or Dunkirk – we just have too much going on. But what if we told you there was another way? The best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray movies can give you an experience that is about the closest thing you can actually get to having a movie theater in your living room. In fact, we'd with the advent of HDR, Dolby Vision and readily available Dolby Atmos sound systems, it's arguable better. And let's not forget the film buffs among us who simply want to watch certain movies over and over again at the highest quality currently available for your home. 

The image fidelity that the best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays offer is the closest thing to a true cinematic experience that cinephiles can get outside of a movie theater. And now that high dynamic range (HDR) is slowly becoming more and more prevalent by the day, the color reproduction will make standard definition movies look decrepit in comparison. The high resolution and HDR combine to bring you an experience that is unlike anything you’ve likely seen before in your own living room. That’s not to mention that the best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays will absolutely demolish anything you can stream online.  

While it’s true that some streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video do offer a good amount of content in 4K – Netflix Originals for instance – you’ll be sorely out of luck if you’re trying to find the newest movies in 4K with HDR on those platforms. And even among older titles, finding titles that are compatible with both technologies will be rare indeed.

These streaming services might have a ton of amazing content that takes advantage of your 4K TV, but you it might take you a long time to be able to find the same amount of content offered by the best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays. And even if you do decide to just wait it out, the image quality of streaming video doesn’t even come close to the fidelity offered by 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies you can buy today. Each of the discs on this list, regardless of how good the actual films are, can be considered 'reference quality' and we've exhaustively tested each to ensure they're truly worthy of our recommendation. Best of all, every 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc is region free, so anyone with a 4K Blu-ray player can enjoy these films.

Read on to find out which Blu-rays have made the list!

Black Panther

Captured at 3.4K resolution and then finished at 4K, Marvel's Black Panther arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a disc that easily outclasses its 1080p counterpart thanks to additional accuracy in its color palette and a more natural appearance overall. 

Right off the bat, the film impresses with its CGI introductory scene. We are given a quick history of Black Panther's country Wakanda, starting with the vibranium meteorite that gifts the African nation with the world's most precious (and technologically useful) metal. The level of detail in the animation is very high, and we're able to really appreciate the light and shade benefits that HDR allows for. 

Admittedly, the disc is less impressive during the night-time jungle rescue that comes shortly after, showing some muddiness in the darkness, something that may or may not resolve itself when viewed on an OLED screen. That said, later scenes set at night look glorious, including a car chase through Seoul that sees vibrant neon signs shimmer off the various luxury vehicles featured in the action-packed set piece. 

But really, detail and color are the standouts on this disc, with the film's flamboyant costumes looking especially eye-popping — witness, for instance, the ritual combat ceremony scene, in which each tribe gathers in their traditional garb to watch the country's top warriors battle for the right to be king. 

Clarity is also astounding here, with the various textures and fibers of each costume exhibiting jaw-dropping detail. A truly wonderful disc and a must-have for Marvel fans. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 135 minutes

Justice League

Though the film was finished on a 2K digital intermediate, that doesn't stop Justice League from looking astonishing on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Part of this is due to its 1:78.1 aspect ratio, which films the entire frame of your television (no black bars here), making these heroes look larger than life in the process. 

Like all of Zack Snyder's movies, Justice League was shot on film (35mm to be precise, though it was then blown up to 70mm using IMAX's digital media remastering), so you can expect incredible detail and additional texture to be found here. Costume detail looks absolutely extraordinary on this transfer, particularly in the texture of Batman's costume and the various surfaces of The Flash's super-complex outfit. 

When it comes to digital effects, Justice League also benefits on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. For instance, Cyborg's CGI body, which is made up entirely of shiny metal, lights and wiring, looks especially intricate and impressive here — particularly when it comes to specular highlights. 

As expected, shadows and dark areas (this is a Snyder film, after all) benefit greatly from the film's HDR color grading, and fans will be happy to know that the disc offers both HDR10 and Dolby Vision support. As for the film's soundtrack, the disc's Dolby Atmos track is muscular and bombastic, with deep bass and clean dialogue that works well within three-dimensional soundscape.

If you're a fan of the film, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Justice League is a must-buy, as it will likely become your reference disc for the foreseeable future.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, Portugese DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1:78.1, Runtime: 120 minutes

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Arriving on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an upscaled transfer based on a 2K digital intermediate, Kingsman: The Golden Circle shines on the format thanks to some terrific HDR color depth and a significant uptick in fine detail across the board.

Colors are incredibly rich here, with the film's many sets and costumes looking particularly vibrant on the format. Explosions, in particular, look especially vivid and hot, while flesh tones look appropriately realistic and warm.

Though not sourced from a 4K master, the detail here is excellent, with fine lines and wrinkles looking particularly clean. Clothing looks pristine, with fibres and stitching clearly visible, giving the film's presentation a more immersive look overall. 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle looks best however, during its many slow-motion action sequences, in which we really get a good look at all of the extra detail afforded by the format. Elsewhere, more fast-paced and kinetic action scenes, such as the film's opening car chase, look astonishingly crisp. 

Visual effects also benefit from the added resolution and visual clarity, with the film's robot dogs receiving added complexity in their moving parts. Overall, if you liked Kingsman: The Golden Circle, this is easily the best way to watch it in your own living room.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 141 minutes

Wonder Woman

Making her stunning debut on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, Wonder Woman looks, well, wonderful. Shot on a combination of 35mm film and using the Arri Alexa 65 digital camera, Wonder Woman receives an unbelievable boost in visual fidelity, even if its digital intermediate was mastered at 2K.

Color reproduction and contrast are where Wonder Woman really shines, with the former looking especially beautiful during the scenes set on Diana's home island of Themyscira. Blues and greens are especially lush here, really selling the warm, sunny paradise setting. This is juxtaposed brilliantly against the grim and gray World War 1 tone that comprises much of the film's second half.

This is where contrast becomes particularly important, as much detail is revealed in the dark, dirty environments surrounding the main characters. The smoke-covered battlefield of No Man's Land is especially breathtaking, with its layers of smoky depth creating the illusion of an atmosphere that you can all but touch. 

Dirt and debris flies as Diana marches into the line of fire, with every speck clearly visible and contributing to the feel of the scene. Then there's Wonder Woman herself, whose famous red, blue and gold costume stands out gloriously against her war-torn surroundings.

For the film's fiery, explosion-filled finale, Wonder Woman's HDR color grading really delivers when it comes to highlights in the fire effects and sparks that populate the scene. At every turn, Wonder Woman is a fantastic example of how this format is ideal for this type of movie. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 141 minutes

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

James Gunn is in no small way responsible for Disney and Marvel finally hopping aboard the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray train, the landmark director insisting that his visually-spectacular new film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, be released on the only format that could do it justice. And, what a first title! A reference quality disc if ever there was one, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the kind of film that will make doubters of the young format stand up and take notice. 

The film's opening credits, in which Baby Groot dances in the foreground while a whole lot of intergalactic action takes place in the background, is frankly breathtaking, making full use of the format's superior level of detail. See the neon lettering that decorates each name in the credits, now bursting with a super bright and realistic glow. Behind Groot, you'll spot a near constant flurry of rainbow-like bursts of mist and thousands of multi-colored particles, now even more vibrant thanks to the disc's increased resolution and the wider color palette that HDR brings in. 

Detail is also amazing, with animated characters like Rocket and Groot looking especially detailed – just look at Rocket's realistic fur and the woodgrain texture that Groot exhibits. Costumes also get a notable boost in texture – it's now possible to see fuzzy fabric and stitching. 

What’s really impressive is that the entire movie keeps its level of visual chaos up without ever dropping the ball. As the film gets more out there in terms of locations and visual effects, the number of show-stopping 4K HDR scenes continuously grows, making this a disc that will floor viewers from beginning to end. Contrast and color levels have been impeccably chosen, too, with the disc avoiding the blown-out brightness that some releases on the format have unfortunately had. 

If there's one downside to the 4K release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it's that the film's IMAX sequences are not presented full-frame in that eye-popping shifting aspect ratio like they are on the 3D Blu-ray. Star Trek Into Darkness sported this kind of presentation on its 4K release and left our jaws glued to the floor, so it would've been great to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 presented in the same way.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 137 minutes

Logan

Fox does it yet again with another fantastic superhero-themed 4K Blu-ray, only this time, the movie on the disc is shooting for a sense of gritty realism, making it more than ideal for the Ultra HD treatment. 

From the very beginning, Logan's opening night-time sequence sets the tone for what we’re going to get from this HDR presentation. Despite being a low-light scene, we have no trouble seeing pristine detail in the Logan’s black limousine and the surrounding desert.

When it comes to the color representation, Logan exhibits a realistic palette that faithfully renders the dusty, western-style environments the film is mostly set in. The blistering New Mexico sun also looks amazing in this presentation, with impressive HDR-enhanced highlights. 

As the film goes on, we also start to see a lot of wear and tear on Logan's attire and his skin, with bloody wounds that look quite realistic. This is no doubt an advantage the 4K Ultra HD presentation has inherited from its true 4K digital intermediate. 

If you're in the UK or US, you may have also received a 4K version of Logan Noir, a black and white feature created just for the film's home release. However, we were unable to test this monochromatic version of the film, though it would be interesting to see how HDR can improve something in black and white.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Aspect ratio: 2.38:1, Runtime: 137 minutes

Deadpool

Deadpool

Speaking on the 4K Blu-ray release of his film, Deadpool, director Tim Miller told TechRadar that "the Ultra HD is f***ing amazing in the level of detail." Having thoroughly inspected the disc for ourselves, we absolutely have to agree. Shot at 3K on the Arri Alexa camera and then finished at 4K, Deadpool's Ultra HD Blu-ray closely resembles the film's theatrical presentation, only with the added bonus of HDR – which is exclusive to the film's home release.

Immediately evident from first viewing, Deadpool at 4K offers a much greater level of visual detail than the film's regular Blu-ray. By far the film's most eye-popping element, Deadpool's suit shows more fine detail in its fabric and stitching, and the wider color gamut offered by HDR makes the costume's various shades of red not only stand out more, but also blend together more naturally. As with most CGI and green screen-heavy films, the added resolution gives the film a slightly-heightened vibe, one that seems fully intended by its filmmakers. The film's fully computer-generated character, Colossus, also looks better, with HDR allowing for improved specular lighting on the character's reflective metal body.

Add to this a punchy and immersive Dolby Atmos soundtrack, and Deadpool becomes one of the format's first must-own discs.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 108 minutes

X-Men: Apocalypse

XMen Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse was originally captured at 6K in the Redcode RAW format, which offers filmmakers an increased level of post-production control, making it perfect for HDR post processing. Finished on a 4K digital intermediate, X-Men: Apocalypse comes to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with no loss to visual fidelity whatsoever. A visual effects showcase if ever there was one, the end result, pardon the pun, is x-traordinary.

From its Ancient Egypt opening through to its apocalyptic finale, X-Men: Apocalypse dazzles in Ultra HD. Costumes and makeup benefit greatly from the added resolution afforded by format, opening our eyes to the incredible work that goes into their creation. There's an immediately noticeable increase in detail, as well as an added depth of texture.

As you would expect from a movie in which characters frequently shoot beams of energy from their hands/eyes/sceptres, lighting effects are a particular highlight here. Increased contrast and a wider color gamut mean that light blooming appears much more natural, avoiding the usual blocky-glow that plagues images with a lower color depth. It's also an extremely colorful movie, with numerous blue and purple characters on its roster. Thanks to HDR, and the added color gradations that it offers, characters show much more individual detail on screen. Without question, this Ultra HD Blu-ray is the preferred way to experience X-Men: Apocalypse.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.35:1, Runtime: 144 minutes

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition

Batman v Superman

As director Zack Snyder typically shoots on 35mm film stock, his films can be scanned at 4K without any real loss in visual fidelity. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Snyder also opted to capture certain sections of the movie with 4K digital cameras, and on 70mm film stock using Panavision 65 cameras. The film was then finished on a 4K digital intermediate, which makes its Ultra HD Blu-ray release pretty close to what most people would've seen at their local multiplex (if not what they might have seen at IMAX and 70mm screenings).

Admittedly, the movie itself is quite grim, dark and muted in its presentation, but that doesn't stop its 4K Blu-ray from being super impressive – the disc's added resolution and color depth mean that Batman v Superman looks as good as it possibly can at home. HDR support allows for tremendous contrast and vivid colors (when they do appear). Fire in particular, looks vibrant and lifelike, achieving a level of brightness that makes it look even more incandescent. Everything else on screen has finer definition, allowing you to really appreciate the detailed texture of Batman's suit, for instance.

If you're a fan of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is a no-brainer – along with its inclusion of the more brutal and violent director's cut, the disc is also a testament to how 4K and HDR can improve the overall viewing experience.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 182 minutes

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider Man 2

Much like Batman v Superman, The Amazing Spider-Man was shot on 35mm film and later scanned and transferred to a 4K digital intermediate. Whatever you may think of the film itself, its Ultra HD presentation here is utterly sublime. Vibrant and colorful throughout, TASM2 especially shines during its effects-heavy set pieces.

Watching Spidey swing through New York on sunny days is a real treat – the film's beautiful blue skies really pop on this transfer, presumably aided by some HDR tinkering. The red and blue of Spider-Man's costume shimmers in the sunlight in a realistic manner, and the added resolution makes the spandex's rippling in the wind much more noticeable.

The real standout though, is the villainous character of Electro. With his translucent blue skin, constantly changing shades and pulsing with electricity, Electro's presence throughout the film is a real show-stopper. The scene in which he reveals his new form in the middle of Times Square, surrounded by the area's huge electronic billboards, is one of the most dynamic scenes I've personally witnessed on a television screen. Thanks to HDR, the scene's many colorful lights emit a more naturalistic light bloom that never shows signs of bleeding into the background.

Best of all, this Ultra HD presentation of the film manages to achieve all of this without losing its filmic appearance. A truly exceptional disc.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 142 minutes

Star Wars: The Last Jedi 

During the film's opening moments, and depending on your television, you may find yourself taken aback by Star Wars: The Last Jedi's first foray into HDR territory, with its familiar opening crawl taking place on a space background that looks a little more gray than we're used to seeing — especially in contrast to the pitch black bars above and below the film's 2.39:1 frame. 

Don't fret — as soon as the action kicks in, you'll find an exceptional transfer worthy of such a mammoth release. Colors are greatly enhanced by the disc's HDR10 and Dolby Vision tinkering, exhibiting additional vibrance and brightness throughout the entire feature presentation. 

Skin tones appear more natural, costumes appear more vibrant, lightsabers look brighter and hotter than ever... there's no end to the visual improvements that come from the inclusion of high-dynamic-range. 

Perhaps the most standout sequence of the film, at least in terms of visuals, involves a lightsaber battle against a group of Praetorian Guards in Supreme Leader Snoke's red throne room (pictured above). The blood-red backdrop is vivid as can be, without displaying any color leakage or over-saturation. HDR brings a lot to the table here, showing incredible light-to-dark blending without obvious color gradations cropping up and ruining the image. 

As this release is based on the film's 4K master (no upscaling here), the increased detail here is also worth writing home about. We're now able to appreciate the incredible costumes, makeup and visual effects work more than ever before, from the stitching in Finn's jacket, to the strands of fur all over Chewbacca's body. 

Add to this an extraordinary Dolby Atmos audio track which makes great use of spacial audio and the film's bombastic score, and you can chalk up Star Wars: The Last Jedi as yet another reference-quality 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 7.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 152 minutes

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049

Perhaps not as immediately mind-blowing as the 4K release of Ridley Scott's masterpiece, Blade Runner (though that probably has to do with the film's steady format progression over the last 35 years), Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 shines on Ultra HD Blu-ray nonetheless. 

Roger Deakins' incredible cinematography takes center stage here, with the film's futuristic locations receiving increased texture thanks to some smoky atmospherics, moody lighting and heavy rain. Flesh tones and costume detail also get a significant uptick here, with the higher resolution offering a significant increase in clarity over the film's 1080p presentation. 

Boasting a true 4K digital intermediate (no upscaling here), Blade Runner 2049 looks almost as great at home as it did in the theater — we say 'almost' because the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray would've benefitted from the inclusion of expanded IMAX sequences (with shifting aspect ratios that show bigger images during key scenes), which many filmgoers witnessed during the film's theatrical run. 

Other 4K releases have blown us away by including IMAX presentations (such as Dunkirk, The Dark Knight and Star Trek Into Darkness) as that added detail and clarity translates magnificently at 2160p resolution. 

Still, we can't argue with what we have here, which is an exceptional HDR-supported disc that makes the best of the film's dark photography and neon-drenched settings. 

We also have to commend Blade Runner 2049 exception Dolby Atmos audio track, with the film's bombastic score setting the mood magnificently. Spacial audio is magnificent here, bringing plenty of dimensionality to the film's sound effects. A truly great audio presentation. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canadian) Dolby Digital 5.1, , Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 164 minutes

War for the Planet of the Apes

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One of the most impressive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases to date, War for the Planet of the Apes is ape-solutely spectacular on the format (sorry). We all know how astonishing the film's visual effects are (read more about how they were created in our Weta Digital VFX report), but its photo-realistic apes hold up magnificently under the increased scrutiny of 4K and HDR (despite being upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate). 

Unsurprisingly, fur looks especially good here, looking completely natural at all times, particularly with light shining through it. Facial textures also receive increased detail, with the various wrinkles in the apes faces looking extra defined. 

Though the disc's increased resolution is a boon for video enthusiasts, the real showstopper here is the wider color gamut afforded by its HDR presentation. Much of the film is spent in darkness, yet we now get to see more detail and definition in those dark areas. Small details in costumes and props are now much clearer because of it. 

The overall palette looks richer, too, with the film's forest settings feeling more lush and its white snow looking brighter and more tangible. Skin tones in humans also receive an uptick, looking warmer and more natural than they did in the cinema. 

War for the Planet of the Apes is a must-own for fans of the series, thanks to its exceptional fine detail quality, deep blacks, and terrific use of HDR. Stay tuned for reviews of the other two films in the series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 139 minutes

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Remastered from a 4K scan, Blade Runner: The Final Cut looks absolutely astounding on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. We're not just saying that it looks good for an old film – it looks amazing regardless of when it was filmed. 

The transfer reveals an exceptional level of clarity in what is generally a dark and smoky film. The noirish, rain-slicked, neon-soaked streets of futuristic Los Angeles look more detailed than ever, with the HDR-enhanced visuals giving us our best look at Rick Deckard's world to date. 

Witness, for instance, the staggering level of detail found in the film's miniatures – one particularly shot showing the Tyrell building will blow you away with its clarity, revealing all the intricacies of the model in question, including the many glittering lights all over the structure giving you the illusion of thousands of offices within. You won't even mind that the illusion is slightly broken by the obviousness of the miniature work, because you'll be too busy appreciating the spectacular craftsmanship and on display. 

Elsewhere, the whole film gets a visual uptick, with HDR helping significantly when it comes to the smooth gradation of colours and lighting. Clothing, skin textures and hair all look better in this version, and the various extreme close-ups of eyeballs all show extra detail now. 

If you're a fan of Blade Runner, chances are that you already own The Final Cut of the film on Blu-ray. While it's highly likely that both releases come from the same 4K digital intermediate, this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version blows previous Blu-ray and HD DVD releases of the film out of the water. This is the best that Blade Runner has ever looked, period. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 118 minutes

Alien: Covenant

Though it's been upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate (much like the 4K release of director Ridley Scott's previous film, The Martian), Alien: Covenant looks expectedly magnificent on the Ultra HD Blu-ray format. 

As this is a dark film with a muted palette (despite its many outdoor daytime scenes), an emphasis has been placed on HDR's ability to provide deeper, more lifelike contrast, much to the benefit of Alien: Covenant's astounding cinematography. 

Colors appear richer, too, standing out even more against the film's greyish blue tones. The alien itself also looks magnificent, with its inky-hued skin receiving added translucence and detail, benefitting from the disc's improved contrast and wider color gamut. 

Those of you with OLED TVs will get an even better viewing experience, with the technology's infinite contrast taking full advantage of the film's tenebrous atmosphere.

But it's not all about the Xenomorphs – the film's human characters also look terrific thanks to the 4K release's bump in resolution and enhanced colors, with faces revealing extra definition and skin tones looking warmer and more naturalistic than the film's SDR presentation. 

Adding to the film's immense visuals is a beefy Dolby Atmos track that focuses on atmospherics with occasional moments of bombast. Admittedly, we wish the disc offered a DTS Headphone:X track, as that would've made for an appropriately nerve-jangling experience akin to the recent video game release, Alien: Isolation. 

Still, we can't complain, as Alien: Covenant's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release is hard to fault when it comes to the film's video and audio presentation. If you're a fan of the film, consider this a must-have.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 122 minutes

Ghost in the Shell

As you might expect, Ghost in the Shell looks glorious on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, with its neon-drenched cyberpunk setting really popping on the format. Though much of the film takes place in dark areas, the disc impresses throughout, particularly during scenes where vibrant colors are juxtaposed against dark environments. 

We were also blown away by how well the special effects stand up in this increased resolution, given that the film was finished at a 2K resolution. Still, you only have to watch the film's first major action sequence (pun intended), in which Scarlett Johansson's Major character applies active camouflage and blasts through a window to shoot down some haywire robot geishas, to get an idea of how impressive this presentation is. The scene is bursting with color and HDR-enhanced highlights, with reflective glass flying through the scene and slow-motion gunfire at every turn. 

Still some viewers might be taken aback by the film's many dark scenes, though they truly come alive when combined with OLED's capacity for infinite contrast. This is truly a demo-worthy disc in that regard. 

Also, while some film buffs may scoff at a film that isn't presented in the letterbox format, Ghost in the Shell looks fantastic as its 1.78:1 aspect ratio fills the entire frame – particularly impressive during overhead shots of the film's futuristic cityscape.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.78:1, Runtime: 116 minutes

Passengers

Shot at a resolution of 6.5K and then finished with with a 4K digital intermediate, Passengers soars on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. An ideal candidate for demonstration purposes, the format allows the viewer to truly absorb the impeccable craftsmanship that went into the film's exception production design and special effects work. Taking place entirely on an enormous spacecraft. Passengers offers ample opportunities for glorious space gazing and futuristic interior design. 

There are times in this 4K presentation when the photographic clarity of the film is so high and lifelike, it almost feels like you're watching a play. Other times, the digital photography is so clean and sharp, that it gives the film an unreal quality, almost like it's partly animated. Of course, this is completely intentional and only serves to make Passengers look even more astounding on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Of course, the film's HDR colors contrast level keep everything in check.

Skin tones are remarkably true to life, and while the film's stars come across a little too beautiful at times (seriously, no one can look that great at all times) Passengers is exactly the kind of film that the 4K Ultra HD format was made for. It's a showcase for gorgeous people hanging out on stunning sets doing remarkable things with the help of magnificent visual effects. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 116 minutes

Lucy

Arriving on Ultra HD Blu-ray with an absolutely stunning transfer sourced from a 4K digital intermediate, Lucy demonstrates the strengths of the format by showcasing immense fine detail, exceptionally-realistic skin tones and textures, and truly-dynamic color reproduction throughout.

From the film's opening scene, which features Lucy the primate in a prehistoric setting, this presentation solidifies its place as one of the format's best reference-quality discs. The detail in the hominid's face and fur is utterly astounding, as are the colors and textures in its surrounding habitat. 

As was mentioned earlier, skin tones and textures are also incredible on Lucy's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, looking supremely lifelike at all times. Seriously, if you can find pores and imperfections on the face of someone as beautiful as Scarlett Johansson, you know you've reached an unparalleled level of clarity. 

Likewise, as the film starts to veer into true science-fiction territory, the disc continues to shine, displaying vibrant HDR-enhanced colors and terrific contrast. Even if you only have a passing admiration for Luc Besson's trippy action film, you owe it to yourself to check out Lucy on 4K Blu-ray.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 89 minutes

Oblivion

As a science-fiction film with a very sleek and minimalistic art design, Oblivion makes an ideal candidate for the added resolution of 4K. Though the transfer was taken from a 2K digital intermediate (common with visual effects-driven films), Oblivion looks sharp and clean, if not immediately mind-blowing. 

With that said, as the film enters its darker scenes, the impressive color gamut and contrast afforded by the film's HDR grading give the film a real sense of depth and vibrancy, particularly in the film's indoor drone shootout sequence. Bloom lighting and sparks from the scene's many explosions burn white-hot, showcasing the brilliant brightness that 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is capable of. Likewise, close-up shots of the drones show a wonderful level of detail.

Though the film has a mostly washed-out grey and blue tone, skin tones appear quite naturalistic and at times appear to be the most vibrant thing on screen. Facial textures also excel, showing fine details like pores and individual hairs in Tom Cruise's five o'clock shadow. Grime, cuts and bruises also look benefit from the format's added clarity.

Giving the film a visual uptick in every category over the standard Blu-ray edition, for fans, this is by far the best way to experience Oblivion.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 125 minutes

Pacific Rim

The reference-quality Blu-ray disc of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim threatens to stomp the rest of your Blu-ray collection and land itself at the top of the pile for visual quality. 

Though the film was finished on a 2K digital intermediate, much like Star Trek Into Darkness, this does not stop Pacific Rim from looking utterly sensational on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Shot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, your entire television screen will be used to display the film's many giant robot vs monster set pieces. 

Thanks to some HDR tinkering, the film's colors and contrast now look even better than they did when the film was in theatres. Witness the rainswept battle that opens the film to see how good its vivid colors look against the inky blacks of a night-time sky. The added resolution afforded by 4K Blu-ray makes the rain look more detailed and realistic. Sparks that fly within the Jaeger cockpit are also more clearly defined and burn hotter than ever before.

Though the entire film is a showstopper, anyone that has seen Pacific Rim will know that its mid-film Hong Kong monster battle is the best-looking section of the film, and believe us when we say that it has never looked better than it does on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The city's neon-soaked skyline radiates with beautiful and realistic bloom lighting, making the best of the film's high-dynamic-range upgrade.

Even if you already own Pacific Rim on 3D Blu-ray, you owe it to yourself to see how incredible the film can look on 4K Ultra HD. This is absolutely a reference quality disc. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, Runtime: 131 minutes

Independence Day: Resurgence

Sourced from a true 4K digital intermediate, Independence Day: Resurgence roars onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray without losing any detail whatsoever – in fact, the film's presentation is improved by the inclusion of HDR (that said, the ultimate way to watch a film of this magnitude will always be on the biggest cinema screen possible). 

A much darker and gloomier picture than its predecessor, Independence Day: Resurgence features many scenes surrounded by inky blacks that would look exceptional on an OLED display. Unfortunately, we didn't have access to one for testing purposes, so we can only say that the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray's increased contrast and vivid colors make Independence Day: Resurgence look fantastic on any HDR-compatible TV.

Its various scenes of computer-assisted citywide destruction unfurl on screen with an extreme level of visual clarity and detail, acting as a showcase of what the 4K format is capable of. Many times, the film's turquoise alien tech takes centre stage, glowing with a naturalistic light bloom that never shows obvious signs of color gradation (see the film's opening scene to see how well light fades into darkness). 

If you're a fan of the film, there's no better way to watch Independence Day: Resurgence than on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 120 minutes

Chappie

Chappie

Director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is known for his knack for seamlessly blending science fiction elements into everyday scenarios, offering a uniquely down-to-earth view of a world filled with robots and aliens. His film Chappie is no exception. Set mostly around the slums of Johannesburg, Chappie's mostly daytime action allows this 4K HDR presentation to really pop.

Shot by Redcode RAW (5K) cameras and finished on a 4K digital intermediate, Chappie's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray practically mirrors what was shown in theatres, only with HDR providing improved contrast and more naturalistic colors. The detail in the titular robot character is astonishing, with the steely greys and blues of his frame making the orange highlights of his arm and antenna stand out even more. You can also see details in Chappie's dirty, scratched body that just weren't visible on the film's regular Blu-ray. Best of all, the expressive LED lights on Chappie's face now show much finer detail, making the character seem even more like a real world object, and not just a marvel of computer-generated wizardry.

Though the film can be quite grimy at times, it's got a lively, vibrant undercurrent to it, employing a Day-Go style thanks to Chappie's co-stars, the rap-rave group Die Antwoord. The group brings its signature art style to the film's costumes and set design, all of which looks fantastic when aided by HDR's wider color gamut. Now, bring on District 9 and Elysium in 4K!

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 120 minutes

Star Trek

Star Trek

Though it's been 'upconverted' from a 2K digital intermediate (which is what you likely saw in theatres upon release), J.J. Abrams' first Star Trek movie looks absolutely wonderful on 4K Blu-ray – the release actually lends some weight to argument that Ultra HD discs don't need to come from a true 4K source in order to impress.

Director J.J. Abrams' may be guilty of relying a little heavily on his 'lens flare' technique on both of his Star Trek films, but the effect looks better than ever here thanks to HDR's increased color gamut and contrast levels. Light blooms looks completely natural, avoiding harsh shade transitions entirely. Elsewhere, the Ultra HD Blu-ray offers amazing detail when it comes to facial textures on the film's many creatures and alien races – Eric Bana's Romulan character Nero looks especially good, with the disc's increased resolution showing just how great the film's Oscar-winning make-up and facial prosthetics are.

While Star Trek's Ultra HD Blu-ray disc may be outclassed by its sequel's truly (inter)stellar 4K release (listed below), this is by far the best way to experience J.J.'s first voyage on the USS Enterprise at home.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, 1.78:1, Runtime: 132 minutes

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

When it comes to the visual quality, the Ultra HD Blu-ray for Star Trek Into Darkness is absolutely mind-blowing – we'd even go as far as calling it the most impressive 4K release on this list. With over 30 minutes of the film shot in the IMAX format, J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness cuts back and forth between a traditional 2.40:1 letterbox presentation for its non-showy scenes, and the more vision-encompassing 1.78:1 aspect ratio for the film's spectacle-driven moments (this presentation is exclusive to the film's Ultra HD release). Though the film looks great throughout (despite being sourced from the film's 2K digital intermediate), the level of detail displayed in these IMAX scenes is absolutely astonishing.

From its very first scene (pictured above), in which Kirk and Bones are chased through a vibrant red forest by the primitive Nibiru tribe, Star Trek Into Darkness will make an instant believer of any 4K/HDR naysayer. Witness, for instance, the cracked, flaking skin on the faces of the Nibiru tribes people, shown up close and in great detail. Marvel at the naturalistic skin tones, visible pores and wrinkles shown on actors Chris Pine and Karl Urban's faces, offering a level of immersion that 3D just cannot compete with.

Another scene, in which Spock drops down into a volcano, is also a showstopper – with its swirling specks of fire and ember, and contrast enhanced greatly by HDR, the scene becomes a showcase for the emerging 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format. Until more IMAX-enhanced films start to be released, consider Star Trek Into Darkness your go-to 4K reference disc.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, 1.78:1, Runtime: 132 minutes

Trolls

Looking like a cotton candy machine exploded in a glitter factory, Trolls is one of the most vibrant and colorful films currently available on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format. And, as you'd expect, there are huge HDR-related benefits to owning the film in 4K over the still admirable regular Blu-ray version. 

First off, the colors are astonishing. This is visual eye candy to the max, and while you might expect the vibrancy to be dialled up significantly on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release, the disc's HDR allows for more naturalistic blending and shading. Combined with improved brightness and color, the overall presentation achieves a richer, more nuanced color palette that avoids looking sickly sweet and garish, and manages to do so without losing its vividness. 

Then comes the disc's fine detail, which receives a tremendous uptick at the 4K resolution. Each of the trolls in the film has a furry, felt-like texture that comes across even stronger when you can see fine hairs swaying on their arms and faces. Of course, their big colorful troll hair looks even more realistic than ever before. An impressive release that demonstrates the subtleties of HDR's wider color gamut, Trolls is the most impressive animated 4K release to date. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.35:1, Runtime: 92 minutes

Labyrinth

Starting with an outdoor scene shot in natural light, Jim Henson's classic family film Labyrinth does not immediately impress on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Looking soft and full of grain, you'd be forgiven for thinking that not a lot of work has gone into this transfer. 

However, once these initial minutes pass, and as the film moves into studio sets with professional lighting and controlled environments, the real Ultra HD magic begins. It's at this point that Labyrinth's brand new 4K scan (sourced from the original 35mm negative) becomes truly mind-blowing.

Taking advantage of the format's added resolution, Labyrinth shows extraordinary detail in the film's many puppets. Fur looks sublime, with individual strands of hair becoming clearly visible. Quite frankly, they look so good, it's almost as if you could reach out and touch them. The film's fantastic makeup work and matte paintings also hold up magnificently under the increased scrutiny of 4K. 

Though Labyrinth's 4K Blu-ray provides an incredible visual upgrade in all areas, perhaps the most important thing about this release is that it manages to keep the film's original filmic texture, with no digital noise reduction to speak of. Though we're watching a digital scan, the presentation always feels film-like. 

Labyrinth has never looked better than it does here, and while this presentation can't top the likes of Star Trek Into Darkness in terms of spectacular visual clarity, for a 30-year-old film populated mostly by puppets, this release is a triumph.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 101 minutes

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Ninja Turtles

Boasting incredible detail and rich, vibrant colors, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a noticeable step up from its already impressive regular Blu-ray release. Look closely and you'll notice that each of the turtles has realistic, scaly skin textures that make you understand just how much work has gone into bringing these characters to life – heck, you can even see the enamel on their teeth!

Other digital characters also look fantastic. Notice the individual textures given to Bebop and Rocksteady, giving each creation its own unique look and texture. Splinter also impresses, with the added resolution on display allowing you to see individual hairs and whiskers that weren't as noticeable in regular HD.

Though most impressive during its daytime scenes (which include the film's spectacular, effects-heavy finale), TMNT: Out of the Shadows also impresses in the darker subterranean moments set within the turtles' sewer lair. The color palette and contrast on display are exceptional, adding a real depth to the image. Fans should consider this 4K Blu-ray release as the definitive way to watch the turtles' latest big screen adventure.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 112 minutes

The LEGO Movie

The Lego Movie

One of the things that immediately strikes you about The LEGO Movie's Ultra HD presentation is that the film has received a significantly brighter and more vivid color palette. Not only that, contrast has also increased by leaps and bounds, making the film's characters look even more like real, stop-motion minifigs – even fingerprints are visible, despite everything on screen being computer generated. Touches like this are what makes 4K and HDR so important to our overall immersion in the film.

Notice the deep blacks in any scene featuring Batman, or the beautiful, naturalistic bloom lighting found in the Old West portion of the film, or how about the gorgeous orange light emitting from film's spaceship (SPACESHIP!!) finale?

Though this release has been upscaled from a 2K master (the film was captured at 2.8K), The LEGO Movie looks incredible in Ultra HD. Vibrant colors and wonderful contrast levels make this 4K release an essential purchase for fans of the movie.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1, Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1, Flemish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 101 minutes

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

While not the kind of film that immediately screams to be owned in 4K, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a good example of how the benefits of Ultra HD Blu-ray can make the viewing of a great movie more enjoyable. 

Thanks to some subtle HDR color tuning, Three Billboards feels warmer and more true to life in its appearance than it does on the film's standard Blu-ray release. Skin textures display a more lifelike hue, with the additional detail found in fine lines and wrinkles bringing the characters' weariness right to the forefront. 

Environments also receive a boost in color and detail, which is particularly noticeable in the green grass and trees surrounding the film's titular billboards (which themselves appear less saturated than they did in theaters).

Contrast is another area in which the film has improved on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray — a night time scene in which one of the characters attacks the town's police station with molotov cocktails truly comes alive thanks to some exceptional shadow delineation, making the scene's red hot flames look more vibrant in the process. 

Sure, it's not as visually splendid as something like The Shape of Water, but Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri absolutely looks better on the format, making it the definitive way to watch the film at home for the foreseeable future. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1,Spanish DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 115 minutes

Murder on the Orient Express

What a surprise this turned out to be! Shot on Panavision's large 65mm format (captured at 6.5K and finished at 4K), Murder on the Orient Express looks unexpectedly sublime on Ultra HD Blu-ray. 

Detail is, quite frankly, amazing in Murder on the Orient Express. From the exquisite fabrics of the cast's period-accurate costumes, to the lines in their faces and the whiskers in their (absolutely huge) moustaches, the bump in resolution brought by this 4K disc is exploited for every pixel it's worth here — and we're super happy about it. 

Colors are also more vivid and natural-looking here, with the disc's HDR10 tuning working wonders on the film's rich palette. Skin tones are true to life, and the film's expert lighting from cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos (who worked with director Kenneth Branagh on the first Thor) comes across beautifully on this transfer.

If you have an OLED television, you'll likely marvel at the film's night scenes, in which the dark corridors of the Orient Express' carriages disappear into inky darkness, showing you additional detail if and when the film chooses to do so. 

Topping it all off is a wonderful Dolby Atmos audio track that creates a convincing soundscape as the train chugs along, and a subtle score that adds to the film without succumbing to overpowering bombastic music. Highly recommended for fans of the film and Poirot stories. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DTS 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1,Spanish DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 114 minutes

It

The latest adaptation of Stephen King's terrifying novel It arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an exceptional transfer (despite being upscaled from a 2K master) that is improved by the inclusion of HDR10 and Dolby Vision. 

Though a lot of the film takes place in dark and dank environments, visibility is always high in It, with some perfectly-judged HDR and Dolby Vision tinkering letting you see all the detail in the shadows without sacrificing all that creepy darkness. 

Detail also receives a huge boost thanks to the added resolution of this 4K presentation, most evident in the crackling clown makeup on Pennywise's forehead, and the exquisite detailing of his freaky costume. Admittedly, some CGI elements become more obvious in 4K, but the trade-off is totally worth it when it comes to the disc's high dynamic range presentation and the increased detail seen here. 

It also packs one of the most bombastic and effective audio tracks of any 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray released to date, with perfectly balanced Dolby Atmos and DTS tracks that will scare the pants off of you. You'll hear every creak, every noise, and every scream with the utmost clarity, depth and dimensionality.

One of the best 4K discs released to date, It is a must-have for horror fans, especially those with access to TV that supports HDR10 or Dolby Vision.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DTS 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 135 minutes

Dunkirk

The best film of 2017? It's got to be up there. Christopher Nolan's take on the harrowing evacuation of Dunkirk at the height of the second World War is a masterclass in tension, practical effects and historical storytelling.

Playing with time and the sequence of events over the nail-biting rescue, Nolan takes full advantage of the IMAX format to bring an epic scale to the horrors of war, with a soundtrack that melds scraping atonal notes with the sounds of the death-dealing machinery bearing down on the troops. You'll be on the edge of your seat from the moment the very first shot is fired until the credits roll. 

It's not to be missed then, and it's a particularly impressive disc to have in your 4K UHD Blu-ray collection. With the majority of the film shot in 70mm for IMAX screens, your full screen will often be taken over by the lapping waves and grim beaches of Dunkirk, presented with a fine sharpness that brings out the incredible detail in the recreated period piece. HDR visuals also make the action sequences really pop, bringing an added depth to what may have appeared as a muted, almost watercolor-like presentation in digitally projected cinemas.

That soundtrack isn't undersold either (it really has to be heard to be believed, at as loud a volume as the neighbours can stand), but note that Dolby Atmos is not supported here.

If you're a fan of Christopher Nolan, all his other movies (barring Memento) are now available in 4K HDR too. As many are older titles, you need to be ready for a slightly softer upscaled presentation, but the HDR benefits remain clear to see. You'll find The Prestige, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar and Inception in stores alongside Dunkirk.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (4K master), Audio: English DTS:HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital, Aspect ratio (variable): 2.2:1 & 1.78:1, Runtime: 106 minutes

Patriots Day

Here's a film that doesn't need a blockbuster scope or enormous amounts of CGI to dazzle on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Patriots Day recounts the devastating events surrounding 2013 Boston Marathon bombing in a very naturalistic and matter-of-fact kind of way. 

The film aims to put you right there during not only the explosions that changed everything, but the eventual chase to capture the assailants responsible. In this regard, the film's cinematography succeeds magnificently in capturing a sense of realism, thanks to some incredibly sharp digital photography (captured in 3.4K with a 2K digital intermediate) and exceptionally lifelike HDR color grading. 

Skintones are as close to reality as I've seen from any film on the 4K Ultra HD format. Lines and pores are clearly visible, and make it even easier to read the emotions displayed on the characters' faces.

Later in the film, during an extended night-time firefight in suburbia, the disc jumps to another level of clarity entirely. Shadow detail gets a huge boost, making it easier to follow the action in what would normally be an underlit setting. 

In fact, we'd go as far as to say that Patriots Day acts as a showcase for what HDR can bring to a films lighting and color palette, with fire taking on an especially important role. Surprising as it may be, this is a demo-worthy disc. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS:X, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS Headphone:X, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 133 minutes

Hacksaw Ridge

Though sourced from a 2K digital intermediate, Hacksaw Ridge arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a gloriously-detailed transfer that's bolstered by a terrific HDR color gamut. 

In its first half, the film radiates with natural-looking light and the kind of clear cinematography that only digital cameras can achieve. Though the disc's increased resolution makes it easy to spot green screen work on a couple of occasions, the added clarity that's made possible by the Ultra HD format far outweighs these minor infractions.

Later, the added detail provided by the format's higher resolution, as well as the wider color gamut it offers, brings a shocking level of detail and an added feeling of authenticity to the film's many gruesome war scenes. If you find intense scenes involving bloody viscera and shredded appendages hard to stomach, you're going to have an even harder time experiencing them on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Elsewhere, high-dynamic-range allows the film's cinematography to really shine, showing very realistic color and light reproduction, especially in dark scenes. At times, Hacksaw Ridge's war scenes forego realistic color palettes in favour of a stylised, almost monochromatic look. Here, HDR allows you to really notice the different shades at work, rather than simply looking dull and grey. These scenes are also punctuated by a barrage of explosions, juxtaposing bright bursts of color over a bleak battlefield.

Top this off with a dynamic and concussive Dolby Atmos audio track, and what you have in Hacksaw Ridge is one of the best releases on the format.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1, Runtime: 131 minutes

The Neon Demon

One of the few 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles that doesn't come with HDR enhancements, Nicolas Winding Refn's horror thriller The Neon Demon looks utterly glorious on the format nonetheless. If you want to get your hands on the film in razor-sharp 2160p, you'll have to import this English-friendly German release, which includes all the special features found on the regular Blu-ray in the US and UK – don't you just love how all 4K UHD discs are region free?

With regards to the disc's lack of HDR, you may be surprised to learn that the famously-visual director is actually quite color blind. An inability to see midtones has led Refn to favour high contrast and extreme colors throughout his career, as evidenced by the films Drive and Only God Forgives. Because of this, it's probably safe to assume that he wouldn't get much out of the high-dynamic-range experience.

Sourced from a 4K master (but shot at 3.4K), The Neon Demon looks incredible on Ultra HD Blu-ray, with its high resolution offering a noticeable uptick in detail over the 1080p version included in this package. 

Aside from its 4K resolution, deep blacks and scorchingly vibrant colors are the big selling point here – though we were unable to test the film on an OLED television, the promise of individually-lit pixels beaming and pulsing out of the pitch black darkness of certain scenes has us giddy at the possibilities on hand. 

Essentially a feature-length exercise in immense style and cinematography, it would be hard to imagine a film more suited to the 4K Ultra HD format. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1, German DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1, Runtime: 118 minutes

Deepwater Horizon

Based on the devastating true story of an enormous oil rig disaster that occurred in 2010, often cited as one of the largest man-made disasters in history, it is perhaps in bad taste to describe Deepwater Horizon as a tremendously visceral and visually spectacular film, given the lives that were lost on that fateful day. Regardless, we must still call 'em like we see 'em, and Deepwater Horizon looks incredible on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. 

Director Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Lone Survivor) brings his tough and gritty film to the format with exceptional results. Though the film was finished on a 2K digital intermediate, Deepwater Horizon delivers strong detail and impressive dynamics, with its HDR enhanced presentation offering great depth and color reproduction. 

Witness, for instance, the fantastic textures in the many scenes featuring actors smeared in oil and covered in dust and debris. Likewise, the film's many explosions burst with astonishing clarity thanks to the format's higher dynamic range. Fire is so bright that you can almost feel the heat emanating from your screen.  

Visuals aside, Deepwater Horizon's audio presentation also receives top marks, with a Dolby Atmos presentation that will shake your living room once those aforementioned explosions start. The film's audio dynamics will bounce around your room, placing you right in the action. Helicopters flying overhead are particularly impressive here, making Deepwater Horizon a reference quality disc in both video and audio categories. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 107 minutes

The Shallows

Providing even more proof that you don't need a 4K master to get exceptional 4K UHD Blu-ray results, the entertaining shark attack movie The Shallows has emerged on the format with an absolutely sublime audio and video presentation.

Upscaled from a 2K master, The Shallows looks astonishingly crisp, with the film's digital photography lending immense clarity to the film's many surfing scenes. Witness, for instance, star Blake Lively's resting 'beachface', which reveals detailed pores, fine lines and even the salty texture of someone who's spent all day swimming in the ocean and soaking in sun rays. Unsurprisingly, the waves look spectacular, too.

Also complementing The Shallows' incredible visual presentation is an amazing Dolby Atmos track which faithfully reproduces the film's clever sound design. It's a muscular track that really puts you in the action, handling all of the film's audio dynamics with ease. Scenes where Lively is submerged make your living room feel like it's underwater, and one particular moment where an underwater GoPro shot breaks through the surface makes your ears pop like the real thing. 

Occasionally, the added resolution of the disc makes some of the film's shark attack scenes look a little fake, but overall The Shallows is one of the best looking and sounding releases that the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format has produced. Highly recommended.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 86 minutes

The Revenant

The Revenant

As close to a flawless 4K presentation as the format has so far produced, The Revenant looks utterly fantastic on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Shot digitally at resolutions of up to 6.5K (and finished on a 4K digital intermediate) using only natural light sources, The Revenant offers a very natural-looking presentation, giving the audience a more authentic idea of what it must feel like to be in the freezing wilderness alongside Leo and Co.

Compare the The Revenant's 4K disc to the regular Blu-ray packaged with it, and you'll notice that the discs provide quite different presentations of the film. This is because director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki re-graded the entire film in HDR exclusively for this UHD release. By comparison, the regular 1080p Blu-ray looks much cooler, with more dominant blues and greys taking centre stage. Meanwhile, the 4K disc offers more naturalistic skin tones and a warmer overall palette, making the film's many icy landscapes appear whiter and more true to life.

Speaking of landscapes, the added resolution and contrast of The Revenant's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray makes them appear more grand and breathtaking, offering more fine detail and depth. Improved bloom lighting also lets the sun shine without bleeding into obvious and distracting shade transitions. A reference disc if ever there was one, The Revenant belongs in everyone's 4K collection.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 156 minutes

The Shape of Water

A release that expectedly leans into the green, teal, aqua and blue portion of the color spectrum, The Shape of Water looks beautiful on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, managing to totally convince in regards to its immaculate costuming, set decoration and makeup effects work, despite its increased resolution and tweaked HDR colors. 

Those aforementioned greens, teals, blues and aquas? They actually take on a more naturalistic appearance on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, with the disc's high-dynamic-range tinkering giving the film's colors a more true-to-life quality than it displayed in theaters. This is particularly noticeable during The Shape of Water's underwater sequences, which now look richer and show no signs of obvious color gradation or banding. 

While the film is visually sublime in every respect, its warm cinematography displaying a masterful use of light and darkness, the real highlight is the creature that captures our lead heroine's heart. The uptick in fine detail afforded by the disc's increased resolution allows us to marvel at the creature's stunning makeup, despite the fact that the film has been upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate.  

For fans of The Shape of Water, this truly is a must-have release. While it would've been nice to have a Dolby Atmos track (imagine how great the flooded apartment scene would sound with three-dimensional audio), it's hard to fault this reference quality disc. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese: DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, Runtime: 123 minutes

Atomic Blonde

One of the most stylish films of the year, Atomic Blonde screams onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an incredibly vibrant and neon-soaked transfer that burns with intense reds and is cooled again by striking blues. 

As you've probably come to expect from the format, color reproduction is extraordinary here, with HDR making the '80s-inspired cinematography a real boost in the vividness department. 

Clothing, hair, skin tones all look realistic here, despite the muted color palette of some scenes in this Cold War spy movie. Oh yeah, and the various cuts, bruises and scrapes acquired by lead star Charlize Theron as she kicks butt across Berlin also look appropriately gnarly, too. 

Though it lacks a Dolby Atmos track, the DTS:X Master Audio one featured here does a terrific job of pummelling your ears with various explosions, gunshots and an expertly-crafted playlist of thumping '80s tunes. If you loved John Wick, this is definitely one for your collection. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS:X, English DTS 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish DTS 5.1, French DTS 5.1 French (Canada) DTS 5.1, Portuguese DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 135 minutes

The Fate of the Furious

The eighth film in the blockbuster Fast and Furious franchise sings the praises of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray thanks to incredible HDR-enhanced brightness, driving home just what the format is capable of (see what we did there?)

Flesh tones look astonishing on this disc, as do the HDR-enhanced explosions that litter the film. Colors also impress – witness the opening race in sunny Cuba to see how much of a difference HDR makes to this kind of film.

Another show-stopping scene involves a prison riot, with vibrant orange prison uniforms standing out even more than on the film's regular blu-ray. 

The disc also presents the film in Dolby Vision as well as HDR10, which should be exciting for people who own TVs that can support the format and the added color depth that it brings. For everyone else, the disc defaults to standard HDR, which is still very impressive.

Perhaps the film's most standout sequence though, involves a huge frozen lake and a submarine. The white ice that surrounds this setting really allows the film's HDR/Dolby Vision presentation to flex some real muscle, with bright highlights getting a good workout. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS:X, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS Headphone:X, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 136 minutes

John Wick: Chapter 2

Immediately exhibiting the benefits of increased resolution and the wider color gamut afforded by the inclusion of HDR in its presentation, John Wick: Chapter 2 comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders with a visually-sensational night-time chase through Manhattan (actually Montreal). 

Surrounded by lights and colorful billboards, the disc's HDR-enhanced contrast allows viewers to peer into the darkness and clearly see objects and details that they'd normally normally miss in regular high definition. Witness, for instance, the film's show-stopping shootout inside the catacombs in Rome – the characters are enveloped in darkness and yet we can clearly see everything that's going on thanks to some terrific lighting and high-dynamic-range magic. 

Immediately prior to that scene, a night-time concerto amongst the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome demonstrates incredible highlights, with red and blue LED lights surrounding the stage as spotlights swirl around in all directions. 

The incredible visuals just keep on coming with this release. We have a shootout in a museum where vibrant red blood splatters over a number of statues, a neon-enhanced 'hall of mirrors' battle inspired by Enter the Dragon, fight scenes taking place in a dark and vivid underground metro, and the list goes on and on. One of the most dynamic releases on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, this is absolutely the best way to experience John Wick: Chapter 2.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 122 minutes

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release brings with it some enormous expectations, as the film is one of the more visually dazzling action blockbusters in recent memory. Thankfully, Fury Road absolutely delivers, despite having been upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate. This might seem like a bummer, but that's how the film was presented in theatres, and it looked pretty freakin' good there, didn't it?

With its colors undergoing a re-grading process in HDR, Fury Road looks more sensational than ever in Ultra HD. The film's many explosions now burn with added intensity, and improved contrast and increased resolution give the film a more painterly appearance, especially in the film's huge storm sequence.

Some might argue that this makes Mad Max: Fury Road's CGI stand out more, I believe it only adds to the film's artistic quality. Elsewhere, you'll find more realistic skin tones and textures, brilliant lighting, richer landscapes and shinier chrome. Mad Max: Fury Road's Ultra HD release is definitely worth the upgrade for fans, though we'd love to see what the added resolution of 4K and HDR could do with the film's new Black and Chrome version.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 120 minutes

Warcraft: The Beginning

Warcraft

Though you'd expect HDR to make films more vibrant and colorful, Warcraft's presentation has taken a more subtle approach to the film's coloring. Less garish than its regular Blu-ray counterpart, Warcraft's Ultra HD presentation offers more naturalistic colors, especially when it comes to orc skin tones. That's not to say that this presentation is muted in any way – Fel magic looks spectacularly vivid and bright, giving the film a suitably other-worldly and fantastical appearance.

As expected, the real show-stoppers here are the orcs, lovingly realised through terrific motion-capture performances and CGI wizardry (as opposed to the other kind of wizardry seen in the film itself). Lead orc Durotan's facial expressions are more detailed and realistic, thanks to the disc's bumped-up resolution. Getting to actually see fine lines, wrinkles and textures in these characters' faces make them much more believable (though the illusion is still broken whenever they're standing next to the film's human characters). Other CGI creations, like the Gryphon Lothar rides during the film's climax, or the kingdom of Azeroth itself, exhibit an exceptionally high level of detail.

While it is another example of an upscaled film sourced from a 2K digital intermediate, Warcraft's 4K presentation nonetheless offers enhanced clarity, improved contrast and naturalistic tones. This Ultra HD release is definitely the best way to watch Warcraft: The Beginning in 2D.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 123 minutes

Sausage Party

The idea behind Sausage Party was for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to create a hilariously filthy R-rated animate comedy with Pixar-level animation. While it doesn't quite reach those lofty heights, the film looks fantastic on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray nonetheless. 

Finished at 2K and then upscaled to 4K, Sausage Party still manages to eek out a whole lot of extra detail over its regular Blu-ray counterpart. This is largely thanks to some HDR tinkering, which gives the film's colors and lighting a more detailed and pleasing look overall. 

Certain foods gain extra details in their textures, with the sausages themselves looking like real objects that you can touch. In fact, the move to high-dynamic-range makes everything look more realistic (while still keeping that stylised animated look). 

Sure, there are better-looking CGI animated films available on this blossoming format (just look at our Trolls entry in the family movies section), but Sausage Party still looks good enough to eat. For fans of the film, this is as good as it's ever going to look. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 16-bit), Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, Runtime: 89 minutes

Planet Earth II

BBC

Okay, so we're cheating a little bit here, as BBC's Planet Earth II is a documentary series, not a movie. However, much like how the first Planet Earth series was a showcase for the Blu-ray format, Planet Earth II proves to be an astounding demo disc that easily highlights the 4K Ultra HD format's greatest strengths.

With numerous locales spread over six episodes, Planet Earth II gives the viewer a whole lot of variety in the eye candy department. In the first episode alone, the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean are juxtaposed against the volcanic majesty of the Galapagos islands, offering lifelike HDR visuals at both ends of the color spectrum. 

Creature close-ups are astonishing in their sharpness, exhibiting high detail in faces and fur. Just as impressive are the series' signature drone shots, which give you a bird's-eye view of various landscapes, including mountains, jungles and even cities in the final episode. 

A major selling point of Planet Earth II is that it was all captured in Native 4K and is presented here exactly as intended by its creators. Add to this the otherworldly feel attributed by the use of slow motion photography, and what you have is the definitive 4K Ultra HD disc to make people's jaws drop. A must-have addition to any serious 4K collection.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1  (48kHz, 16-bit) Aspect ratio: 1.78:1, Runtime: 300 minutes

Blue Planet II

Although we're still waiting for the BBC to show any signs of actually broadcasting 4K content (occasional iPlayer experiments notwithstanding), the veteran broadcaster has made some first steps into the format by shooting a couple of its prestige nature documentaries in Ultra HD. 

Blue Planet II is the second such documentary (after Planet Earth II, above), and focuses on the wildlife that can be found in our planet's oceans. 

The whole documentary is stunningly presented, with the sheer richness of the ocean's colors a sight to behold. The HDR10's wide color gamut is put to fantastic use with the rich hues present throughout each episode, and we were particularly fond of the HDR highlights found on the show's florescent deep-sea creatures. 

Other discs might offer technically superior visuals with mastering of up to 4,000 nits, but for us nothing will compare to the raw beauty of nature captured in uncompromised 4K. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.78:1, Runtime: 360 minutes 


Wed, 04 Jul 2018 03:50:00 +0000
The best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies
Your ultimate guide to the most impressive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray films currently available.

UPDATED: The latest (and most terrifying) adaptation of Stephen King's classic clown-themed horror story It is now streaming on Netflix Australia — find out more about It on page 2... if you dare!

If you're new to Netflix and want to find the best movies to watch, or you're tired of browsing the app for 30 minutes before finding something to watch, you've come to the right place. With thousands of movies at your disposal, it's easy to get stuck in binge-watching mode, but finding the honest-to-goodness best films can be a bit of a hassle.

In an effort to determine the best of the best, we've put together a list of the greatest possible films you can watch – curated by TechRadar editors and backed up with ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes – so that you don't have to sift through the muck. We'll keep this best-of list up to date with the latest movies that are must-watch, so you waste zero screen time searching.

As tech enthusiasts, it's perhaps unsurprising that we're obsessed with science fiction here at TechRadar. From glorious space operas to mind-bending films that make you think, there's something for everyone on our list of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix Australia.

Annihilation

If you've seen writer-director Alex Garland's previous sci-fi masterpiece, Ex Machina, you'll know to expect a wild ride with his follow-up, Annihilation. Based on the highly regarded novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation follows a group of women who set off on an expedition into an environmental disaster zone where the laws of nature don't apply. Natalie Portman leads the pack as a biologist searching for her missing husband, and she's joined by Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and more. Though the film has only just been released in theatres in the US, Australia is lucky enough to be one of the countries getting the film on Netflix right away. Equally brainy and terrifying, Annihilation has all the makings of a modern science fiction classic.

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

Rogue One: A Star Wars story

Rogue One

As the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One had some pretty lofty expectations to live up to. Rather than try to replicate the formula that made The Force Awakens such a smashing success, director Gareth Edwards delivered a proper war film, one that had more in common with Saving Private Ryan than The Empire Strikes Back. Remember in A New Hope when the Rebellion got its hands on the Death Star plans that would lead to victory at the end of that film? Rogue One is about the group that stole those plans. Yes, it is a Star Wars prequel film, but don't worry – there's no Jar Jar Binks in sight. 

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow

A terrific science fiction war film starring Tom Cruise, Edge of Tomorrow plays like a cross between Halo and Groundhog Day, where the Cruiser is thrown directly into an alien war only to die almost immediately and then forced to repeat the day over and over, becoming a little more battle-hardened each time. Joining him is Emily Blunt, playing a tough-as-nails soldier who helps Cruise figure out a way to close this never-ending time loop and end the war for good. Backed by a terrific script and some fine chemistry between Cruise and Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow is a fantastic special effect extravaganza that should please both sci-fi and action fans.

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

District 9

District 9

The film that put both director Neill Blomkamp (Elysium) and star Sharlto Copley (Powers) on the international stage, District 9 is an ingenious science fiction Apartheid allegory that puts marooned aliens in South African concentration camps. An anti-alien pencil pusher (Copley) has his whole world turned upside down when he is sprayed with some kind of liquid that is slowly turning him into an alien, and now he has to team up with one of the "prawns" he so despises if he has any hope of turning back to normal. Hilarious, action-packed and filled with flinch-worthy body horror moments, District 9 is an instant classic that rightfully earned a best picture nomination at the Oscars.

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Midnight Special

Midnight Special

The kind of smart science fiction film that Steven Spielberg used to make in his 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' heyday, Midnight Special continually offers a sense of wonder as its story unfolds. Without spoiling too much, the film centres on Roy (Michael Shannon), a father who must protect his special son  Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) from both the US government and a cult after it's discovered that the boy has otherworldly powers. Along for the ride are Alton's mother Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) and Roy's close friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton). With surprises around every corner, you never really know where Midnight Special is going, though what you can expect are some truly terrific performances and a mind-blowing finale. Fans of Stranger Things should check this out. 

IMDB Rating: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Minority Report

Minority Report

What if you could prevent murders before they've occurred? More importantly, what would you do if you were due to be sentenced over a murder you haven't committed yet? That is the premise of Steven Spielberg's spectacular sci-fi film, Minority Report. Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick story of the same name, the film sees Tom Cruise play the head of a futuristic 'Precrime' Division tasked with stopping murderers from carrying out their violent actions. They can do this thanks to the psychic abilities of three siblings known as 'Precogs'. But what happens when this trio of soothsayers predicts a murder carried about by Cruise himself? Spoiler alert, he runs! A visually stunning film that's filled with ingenious and forward-thinking technological ideas that will likely become a reality in years to come, Minority Report is intense and action-packed. 

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

The Terminator

The Terminator

While other films from the same time period have struggled to stay relevant, The Terminator remains as interesting and unique as it was 33 years ago. An undisputed classic of intense, unrelenting action, The Terminator kickstarted the career of uber-director James Cameron, who would go on to direct such classic blockbusters as Aliens, Titanic, Avatar and, of course, Terminator 2L Judgment Day. If you're looking for a retro masterpiece that holds up to modern-day cinema standards, you can stop searching – The Terminator is a must-see for any fan of science fiction, action and horror. 

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens

A triumphant return to the screen for the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens sees the characters we love from the original trilogy, like Han Solo, Chewbacca and Leia, set off another adventure with a new generation of wonderful characters. Ironically, for a series set among the stars, Director J.J. Abrams brings the franchise back to Earth by dialling down the CGI that hobbled the prequel trilogy – this is a Star Wars movie that uses real locations and sets, as well as puppets and actors in costume, to recreate the spirit of Episodes IV through VI. Featuring thrilling action, incredible special effects and terrific performances, The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars film in over 30 years.

IMDB Rating: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Gravity

Gravity

It took an agonising seven years for director Alfonso Cuarón to follow his masterful last film, Children of Men, but what an incredible follow-up! With Gravity, he sure did stick the landing (ahem) and hit this one right out of orbit (I'll let myself out). This nail-bitingly intense film, in which Sandra Bullock's character must use her wits to survive in space after a catastrophic shuttle accident, is a technical marvel – the kind of film that wows even the likes of James Cameron, who called Gravity "the best space film ever done." A perfect marriage of drama and special effects, Gravity is an absolute classic.

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

We all love a good scare (so long as we're safe and sound at the end of it), so with that in mind, we've taken the liberty of shining a spotlight on some of the best horror movies currently streaming on Netflix Australia. These freaky flicks are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine!

It

Get ready, fright fans — the highest-grossing horror movie of all time has made its way onto Netflix and is bound to make you terrified of clowns all over again. Based on Stephen King's classic novel of the same name, It follows a group of tightly-knit adolescent misfits known as The Losers Club as they investigate an evil force that's been stealing and murdering children in their small town for decades. With its late '80s setting and talented cast of young performers, It is bound to appeal to fans of Netflix's brilliant series Stranger Things (and not just because Finn Wolfhard stars in both). As far as Stephen King adaptations go, it's one of the very best, managing to strike the right balance between horror and heart. Simply put, It is the kind of crowd-pleasing scare film we'd like to see more of. We recommend watching It before the upcoming sequel, which takes place 27 years later and sees the kids all grown up and terrorised by Pennywise the Dancing Clown all over again. 

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Jaws

The film that defined the term 'blockbuster', Steven Spielberg's classic fright film Jaws has swam its way onto the the service and is hungry for more viewers to chomp on. When an aggressive great white shark starts eating swimmers in the lead up to Fourth of July weekend, the mayor of a popular tourist destination sets a bounty for the shark's head. The town's sheriff (Roy Scheider), an oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss) and a shark hunter with a grudge (Robert Shaw) set out on the seas to take it down for good. They're gonna need a bigger boat...

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

It Follows

It Follows

Considered a modern horror classic by many, It Follows sees a young girl (Maika Monroe) terrorised by a sexually-transmitted demon. This terrifying apparition looks different every time and will chase you relentlessly until you either pass it on by sleeping with someone else, or until it catches up to you and finishes you off for good. To make matters worse, if the person you pass it on to dies, it will turn its attention back to you again. Did we mention that it can only be seen by the people that have been 'infected', so your friends won't be able to help as much as they'd like to? Yeah, it kinda sucks. Stylish, atmospheric and with a terrific John Carpenter-inspired synth score, It Follows in an effective horror movie which may suffer a little from a few odd decisions by its characters, but is still well worth watching.

IMDB Rating: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

The Babysitter

The Babysitter

One for the horror comedy fans, the Netflix Original film The Babysitter, from director McG (Charlie's Angels), is an energetic and fun flick with some killer one-liners and a star-making performance from Aussie actress Samara Weaving (yes, she's related to Hugo), whom horror fans may remember from her role in the first season of Ash vs Evil Dead. The plot is simple: kid develops a crush on his incredibly cool babysitter, only to find out that she's sadistic, devil-worshipping killer with a group of equally psychotic friends, all of whom are planning to kill him. Though he's a total wimp, he must now fight back in order to survive. Gory and funny in equal measure, The Babysitter is a hell of a time.

IMDB Rating: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Evil Dead

Evil Dead

One of the few horror remakes that fans of the original have embraced, The Evil Dead (2013) takes the outrageous series in an even gorier direction than ever before. Director Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe) drops the slapstick comedy that was introduced in Evil Dead II, dialling up the gory grossness that made the original film an instant classic among horror fans. Sure, it lacks the winning charisma of Bruce Campbell, whose presence is definitely missed and cannot be replaced the mostly bland cast found here, but the film is still a slime-covered blast that puts its actors through hell regardless – just the way it should be. Groovy. 

IMDB Rating: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 61%

Documentaries offer unprecedented insight into the lives of real people and the extraordinary events that surround them. Fiction is great, but fact truly has the power to move and inspire people like nothing else. With that said, here are some of the best documentaries currently available to stream on Netflix Australia. 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

An epic 4-hour documentary on the classic rock band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Peter Bogdanovich's all-encompassing opus follows Tom Petty and his band from childhood to 2007 and is packed with candid interviews with the band's members, as well as the people that helped them become who they are. Having tragically passed away at age 66, Tom Petty will forever be remembered as one of the best songwriters in rock and roll, and a pioneering artist for everyone who has come since. If you've only just become aware of Tom Petty following his untimely death and want to know more about his impact on rock music, Runnin' Down a Dream has you covered. 

IMDB Rating: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox

Following the enormous success of its original docu-series Making a Murderer, Netflix has once again returned to the ever-popular 'true crime' well with Amanda Knox. The Netflix Original documentary tells the harrowing story of an American exchange student who spent four years in an Italian prison after being convicted for the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. Forced to endure the prosecution's various character assassination tactics, including public slut-shaming, Knox maintains her innocence at all times, with her appeals eventually reaching Italy's Supreme Court. Amanda Knox is an effective and truly eye-opening documentary that is not to be missed.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Rubble Kings

Rubble Kings

Thought the classic '70s film The Warriors was pure make-believe? You'd be surprised how much truth was actually buried under all the crazy costumes. Throughout the decade, the New York City borough known as The Bronx was teeming with gang violence; each gang with its own uniform, its own war-chief and its own piece of turf to fiercely defend against rival gangs – sometimes to the death. Rubble Kings documents this fascinating era, interviewing many of the key players and giving insight into the series of events that would eventually bring peace to The Bronx at the tail end of the tumultuous decade. Fans of The Warriors, The Get Down and Hip-Hop Evolution will adore Rubble Kings.  Okay, boppers. It's time to add Rubble Kings to your Netflix queue...

IMDB Rating: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

We love a good thriller, which is why we've narrowed down some of the best ones that are now available to watch on Netflix Australia. These films will have you on the edge of your seat in suspense, so sit back, try to relax, and enjoy.

The Villainess

The Villainess


Equal parts Oldboy and La Femme Nikita, The Villainess is a female-driven Korean revenge thriller with the most incredible and original action sequences this side of The Raid — seriously, the first-person knife fights and shootouts in this put Hollywood action movies to shame. Sook-hee (Ok-bin Kim) is apprehended after carrying out a killing spree that leaves dozens of gangsters dead. She's given a choice: train to become a ruthless assassin and receive freedom after ten years, or spend the rest of her life in jail. Obviously, she chooses the former, and before long it becomes clear to her that her rampage was spurned on under false pretences. Now, it's time to make everyone pay for what they did to her.

IMDB Rating: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Gerald's Game

Gerald's Game

2017 has been a great year for Stephen King adaptations (ahem, The Dark Tower aside), and the new Netflix Original film Gerald's Game joins It and 1922 in the upper echelon. In an attempt to rekindle their marriage, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and Jessie (Carla Gugino) retreat to a remote lake house. When a sex game goes awry, Jessie is left alone and handcuffed to the bed and must overcome her mounting paranoia and deep, personal demons. Though the film mostly takes place within the one room, Gerald's Game remains thrilling from start to finish. It also features one of the best performances of Gugino's career. 

IMDB Rating: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Munich

Munich

Though he's established a rabid fan base due to the success of blockbuster films like Jurassic Park, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark, director Steven Spielberg is arguably in at his best when tackling more grown up fare – films like Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan can attest to that. However, there is one film in particular that is arguably the most complex and adult of his entire career, and that film is Munich. Based on the real-life tragedy that occurred during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, in which the entire Israeli team was taken hostage and then massacred by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, the film sheds light on Israel's secret retaliation missions. Allegedly, these black ops saw undercover Mossad agents (played here by the likes of Eric Bana, Daniel Craig and Ciarán Hinds) track down and assassinate the men believed responsible in a rather public manner. Rather than take sides in the still ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, Spielberg questions the cost of vengeance on the conscience and soul of an entire country, asking whether it ultimately achieves anything other than more bloodshed. A riveting film that does not shy away from the story's more harrowing aspects. 

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 77%

Wake in Fright

Wake in Fright

One of the most powerful and harrowing films in Australian cinema history, Wake in Fright forces audiences to take a good hard look at Australia's destructively macho drinking culture. Marooned in a small outback town while he waits for a train to Sydney, schoolteacher John Grant (Gary Bond) stops in at a local pub to pass the time. Sounds innocent enough, right? Unfortunately for John, a chance encounter with a pack of local louts sends him on an incredibly dark odyssey into the Australian heart of darkness. As shocking and menacing as any horror movie, Wake in Fright is an extremely confronting masterpiece that requires a strong stomach.

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Drive

Drive

Drive is the film that made it cool to love Ryan Gosling. Based on the novel of the same name by James Sallis, this pulpy thriller is one of the most stylish films of the last decade, having almost single-handedly revived the neon '80s synth-pop scene. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Only God Forgives), Drive sees Gosling play a nameless stunt driver who works as a shady wheelman by night. When a job goes horribly wrong, this 'driver' must dispense violent justice to make things right for those he cares for. The film's immense influence can be felt across all forms of media – the video game Hotline Miami, in particular, owes a large debt of gratitude to Drive. A loving ode to the early tough-guy crime movies of Michael Mann, Drive is essential viewing.

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs

Simultaneously terrifying and mesmerising, The Silence of the Lambs is the film that catapulted the fictional character of Dr. Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lecter to mythic proportions. This brilliantly psychotic serial killer, played with great menace by Sir Anthony Hopkins in the role won him an Oscar, has since gone on be the subject of several films, books and even a fantastic television series. But while his impact on The Silence of the Lambs is huge, the story belongs to Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), an FBI trainee who is given the task of consulting with the infamous man-eater in an effort to track down a deranged killer that's skinning his victims. Foster's role is less showy but more impressive, played with equal parts determination and vulnerability. We fear for her because we see ourselves in her shoes, but also because we get a real sense of what drives her character, both emotionally and mentally. These characters may have appeared in many other films, but The Silence of the Lambs is still the best by a long stretch. A true masterpiece.

IMDB Rating: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

We're serious cinephiles here at at TechRadar. It's not all about Star Wars around here – we enjoy a good tear-jerker, too. There are many sensitive drama films streaming on Netflix Australia right, and these are some of the best ones. So grab a hanky and get ready for a heavy night in. 

Good Time

Good Time

Good Time stars Robert Pattinson in the type of performance that will make you forget all about his involvement in the Twilight saga. We're talking young De Niro good, here. When his mentally-challenged brother is snatched by the police after a bank robbery, Connie (Pattinson) sets out to do anything he can to free his brother before getting sent to the brutal Rikers Island jail complex. This sets off a night that spirals out of control extremely fast. There's pretty much no way of predicting what will happen next. Gritty and grimy, Good Time is an intense film with an incredible soundtrack and fantastic cinematography. One of the best films of 2017. 

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

The Revenant

The Revenant

The film that finally bagged Leonardo DiCaprio a much-deserved Academy Award, The Revenant is at once a stunning technical achievement and a gut-wrenching tale of survival in the harshest wilderness imaginable. Based on the true story of Hugh Glass (though fudged a little for the sake of added drama), a man who was left for dead by his fur-trapping party after a savage bear attack (amazingly realised here in one of the film's many single-take camera shots). Now, Glass must carry himself across 200 miles of snowy hell to track down down the man who killed his son (that part is made up) and left him to die alone, played here by a mumbly Tom Hardy. A powerful film with incredibly cinematography and exceptional performances, The Revenant is a must-see piece of cinema.

MDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket

An astonishing work of immense power, Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece Full Metal Jacket examines man's innate desire to kill, memorably told against the backdrop of the controversial Vietnam War. The film is split in two halves – the first, which is set at boot camp, follows a young recruit who is pushed right over the edge by an abusive drill sergeant. The latter half focuses on a military journalist who watches in horror as Vietnamese people are killed indiscriminately by the soldiers he's following for reasons they don't even understand. Will they make a killing machine out of him, too? Essential viewing for war film aficionados. 

IMDB Rating: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Lawrence of Arabia (Restored Version)

Lawrence of Arabia

One of the greatest historical epics of all time, Lawrence of Arabia has arrived on Netflix in its recently restored form. Trust us when we say that the film, which won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, looks even more sublime now than ever before. Desert landscapes are vast and immaculate, skies (and Peter O'Toole's eyes) are the incredibly blue, and close-up detail is off the charts. Still, underneath all the eye candy on display, lies one of the most inspiring war stories of all time, all of which is based on true events in the life of British officer T.E Lawrence, who led the Arab tribes against the Turks in WWI. If you haven't seen Lawrence of Arabia before, we suggest you set aside a weekend (this movie is very, very long) and remedy that as soon as possible. 

IMDB Rating: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation

As Netflix's first original movie, Beasts of No Nation had a lot to prove. The VOD scene had traditionally been associated with low budget indies and D-grade horror films, but with Beasts of No Nation, Netflix managed to convince people that high quality (dare I say, Oscar-calibre) films could be streamed at home and shown in theatres at the same time. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective season 1), Beasts follows the loss of a child soldier's innocence as he's forced to do unspeakable things. The film hits like a sledgehammer, never shying away from the brutality and horror experienced by this young boy (played masterfully by newcomer Abraham Attah). Equally powerful is Idris Elba's portrayal as the boy's remorseless and despicable commander. Though not what you'd call a crowd-pleaser, we hope that Netflix continues to bring us brilliant films like this.

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color

As soulful as it is erotically-charged, it's not hard to see why Blue is the Warmest Color won the highest prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival – its portrayal of two women who fall in love and allow each other to discover their true selves is truly special. Though Emma (Léa Seydoux) is a blue-haired free spirit, Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin. While Adèle's friends initially shun Emma due to her sexuality, she soon realises that Emma is the only person with whom she can express herself openly and bare her soul to. Together, the pair experience the ups and downs of a mature relationship, while also exploring social acceptance and their sexuality. A beautiful masterpiece that will take you on an emotional roller-coaster throughout its lengthy 3-hour running time, Blue is the Warmest Color is a film you won't soon forget. 

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Okja

Okja

Korean director Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer) is an eclectic filmmaker, and his latest work, Okja, is in a genre all of its own. Is it an adventure film? Is it science fiction? Is it a drama? Is it a fairy tale? Is it satire? The answer is... all of the above. With a style that's somewhere between Spielberg and Miyazaki, the film follows a young Korean girl's quest to rescue her best friend Okja, a super-pig that was created by the multi-national conglomerate Mirando Corporation for the purposes of consumption. Flipping between heartbreaking and joyful at the drop of a hat, Okja is an emotional roller coaster of a film that may well have you reconsidering your dietary choices. 

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Schindler's List

Schindler's List

This is one of the most affecting movies that you will ever see. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a factory owner who begins to help his Jewish workers during World War II after he sees them persecuted by the Nazi Germans, the movie is a study in brevity. Steven Spielberg manages to find the human stories in the atrocity of WWII without shying away from the true horror of what happened during the conflict. Winner of several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, Schindler's List is a film you won't soon forget. 

IMDB Rating: 8.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Selma

Selma

A heartfelt and considered look at Martin Luther King Jr's struggle to gain equal voting rights, campaigning in racially-charged Alabama, Selma was one of the finest films of 2014 and was rightly nominated for a Best Picture Oscar as a result. It may have missed out on the top gong, or a Best Director nod for director Ava DuVernay, but David Oyelowo's performance as the civil rights leader is a powerful one, with a supporting cast recreating the inspiring story with great respect. With recent real-life events showing that racial tension is still as prevalent in 2017 as it was in the 1960s, Selma is more relevant than ever. Powerful and moving, Selma is a must see film about courage, determination and the fight for equality among all people, regardless of their colour. 

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

Need a good laugh? Netflix Australia is home to some terrific comedies, with a number of hilarious movies ready to stream in an instant. Some are light-hearted, while others are pitch black. With that in mind, there's a comedy for everyone below. 

Swingers

The indie film that made stars out Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, Swingers is a hilariously hip film (well, in the '90s it was) about friendship and moving on from a devastating breakup. Stylish and energetic, the film also made Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood. Worth watching for the hilariously-needy answering machine scene alone. Based on a winning script by Favreau (who would go on to huge success as a director with films like Iron Man and The Jungle Book), the movie is so, so money. 

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

Coming to America

Coming to America

Perhaps the most charming and endlessly entertaining comedy of Eddie Murphy's career, Coming to America takes the standard 'fish out of water' concept and weaves pure magic with it. Unhappy with the arranged marriage set up by royal parents, Prince Akeem of the wealthy (and fictitious) African nation of Zamunda sets off for America in search of love with help from his squire, Semmi (Arsenio Hall). Before long, Akeem falls for the smart and independent Lisa (Shari Headley), heir to the McDowell's fast food restaurant empire. Insistent that he win her affections with his personality and not his wealth, Akeem and Semmi pretend to be poor and acquire jobs at McDowell's. Now, the pair must contend with Lisa's over-protective father (John Amos) and her jerk boyfriend (Eriq La Salle). Full of heart and bloody hilarious, Coming to America is a comedy classic.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

Fight Club

Fight Club

You know what they say: black comedy is still comedy! While the first rule of Fight Club may be that you shouldn't talk about Fight Club, it's extremely hard to keep quiet about a film as provocative as this. Though its messages are based in extremely dark satire, David Fincher's film is as nihilistic and anarchistic as any major film studio has ever produced. Violent, gross and incendiary, Fight Club sees emasculated males bash each other's faces in to make themselves feel manly once more. While the film's themes are intended in jest (the film is basically Gen X's ultra-dark version of a Marx Brothers comedy), they certainly resonated strongly with certain fans, many of which would go on to start their own fight clubs. Despite being misunderstood by its biggest admirers, Fight Club is one of the must-see films of the late '90s.

IMDB Rating: 8.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz

Following the success of their classic rom-zom-com, Shaun of the Dead, director Edgar Wright, star and writer Simon Pegg and co-star Nick Frost teamed up once again to bring their hilarious sensibilities to the buddy-cop movie genre with Hot Fuzz. London super-cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is involuntarily transferred to a village in the English countryside for making his superiors look bad by comparison. There, he teams up with dim-witted (but well-meaning) cop Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and together, the pair uncover a murder conspiracy. If films like Point Break and Bad Boys II are in constant rotation at your place, you absolutely owe it to yourself to grab a Cornetto and watch Hot Fuzz.

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

American Psycho

American Psycho

It may look like a thriller, but Just like its main character, American Psycho is something entirely different under the surface. Quite frankly, most people don't expect this film to be as funny and endlessly quotable as it is. Director Mary Harron and co-screenwriter Guinevere Turner did the unthinkable when they took on the job of adapting Bret Easton-Ellis' hugely controversial and largely unfilmable book, American Psycho – they looked beyond the source material's horrendously graphic and seemingly never-ending violence to focus on the scathing satire of the greed-obsessed '80s buried underneath. Christian Bale solidified himself as one of the world's most exciting actors in the role of Patrick Bateman, the Wall Street yuppie with an insatiable lust for blood and dinner reservations. Both shocking and hilarious, American Psycho is a remarkably clever cult classic.

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 68%

Though they live on the other side of the law, we as people tend to be fascinated by criminals. Whether it's the outlaw lifestyles they lead, or the fact that they live those lives on the edge and do things most of us wouldn't dream of, something about their stories makes them cinematic gold. Here are some of the best crime movies now streaming on Netflix Australia.

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street

The characters in the fact-based film The Wolf of Wall Street may very be completely reprehensible with little-to-no redeeming qualities, but damn if they aren't freakin' hilarious. An adults-only tour through the real-life antics of white collar criminal Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio at his most unhinged), the film revels in the excess and debauchery of Wall Street in the 1980s, where thieving yuppies spent millions of dollars on drugs, hookers and extravagant lifestyles they did not earn. While the film's three hour runtime might scare off potential viewers, Martin Scorsese's energetic direction keeps the action moving at a lightning-fast pace. The film was also stars Margot Robbie's in her breakout role, playing Belfort's ever-suffering wife, Naomi. Jonah Hill is also incredibly funny as Belfort's partner in crime, Donnie. If you love Scorsese's classic film Goodfellas, chances are you'll enjoy this just as much. 

IMDB Rating: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

Snatch

Snatch

A rollicking crime caper movie from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels writer and director Guy Ritchie, Snatch takes everything great about that movie and dials it up to 11. Featuring a large cast of colourful cockney crooks, including Jason Statham, Stephen Graham, Dennis Farina, Benicio Del Toro, Vinnie Jones  and Brad Pitt (particularly memorable as an unintelligible Gypsy boxer), Snatch flies thick and fast with hilarious quotable lines and energetic performances. Whether they're chasing after a diamond the size of a fist, or betting on illegal bare-knuckle brawls, you can expect these characters to end up getting into all kinds of mischief. 

IMDB Rating: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

City of God

City of God

If you've blasted your way through both seasons of Narcos and want another South American crime epic to get stuck into, consider City of God as your next destination. Based on true events that took place over three decades in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, the film accurately recreates the lively and energetic vibe of Brazil, but also counters it some truly harrowing scenes of devastating violence. In the 'City of God', children brandish firearms and kill each other indiscriminately over petty drug deals. While that might sound like too much to bear, the terrific filmmaking on display from Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund will keep you on the edge of your seat, as will the film's authentic performers and compelling story. One of the greatest films of all time, City of God is like Goodfellas scored to a samba beat.

IMDB Rating: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

Perhaps the most influential movie of the 90s, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, the big prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and the hearts and minds of an entire pop culture-obsessed generation. Presented as an ingenious crime anthology with three interlocking parts, Pulp Fiction follows two hitmen as they go on a job and experience what may or may not be an act of God, a dinner date with the crime boss' wife which (almost) spirals out of control, and a boxer who accepts money from the aforementioned boss to take a dive, but opts to skip town instead. Violent, audacious and with little concern to the rules of cinema, Pulp Fiction is the kind of whip-smart classic that can be watched at the drop of a hat. The film may have seen its fair share of imitators over the years, but none of that has diluted Pulp Fiction's immense power. 

IMDB Rating: 8.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Buckle up for some heart-pounding entertainment with some of the most kick-ass action movies now streaming on Netflix Australia. Adrenaline junkies will get a kick out of every one of the brawny movies listed below. 

The Warriors

Set in a heightened version of New York in the dirty 1970s, where the streets are ruled by violent gangs in crazy costumes, The Warriors follows one particular gang (we'll give you one guess as to what they're called) that's framed for the murder of a visionary gang leader during a city-wide midnight summit. Originally meant as a peaceful event, The Warriors must now make it back to their home turf at the other side of the city with every other gang in town out for their blood. Will they survive long enough to prove their innocence? And will the real culprits get what's coming to them? A fantastic piece of '70s pulp, The Warriors is a guaranteed great time. And while its vision of colourful gangs lording over the slums of NYC seems outlandish, it's a lot closer to the reality of the time than most people realise. To learn more about this bygone era, check out the documentary Rubble Kings, which is also streaming on Netflix (read more about it on Page 3). 

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

Wonder Woman

The DC Cinematic Universe has had a bit of a rough start in its attempts to catch up to competitor Marvel, with films like Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad unable to adequately please both fans and critics. That all changed with Wonder Woman, the first DCU movie to receive universal praise across the board. Perfectly cast as Wonder Woman a.k.a. Diana Prince, Gal Gadot breathes warmth and love into the world's most famous female superhero. Diana is swept into the wars of man when charming pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands near the hidden island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons. Sensing that WWI is the doing of Ares, the God of War, Diana sets off with Steve into the world of man to end the war (and Ares) once and for all. One of the greatest superhero movies of all time, Wonder Woman is a triumph. Now let's hope we get more DC movies like this...

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The sequel to Marvel's 2014 phenomenon, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 finds the intergalactic heroes thrust into another adventure, one that could reveal the identity of Peter Quill's father. Even more spectacular than the first film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continually aims to surprise the audience, with simultaneously keeping its action and comedy levels high. 

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

The world has gone to hell following a cataclysmic event, plunging headfirst into madness and chaos. All that remains is a wasteland governed by tyrannical men, populated by downtrodden hordes, and hopefully, rescued by mythical heroes. Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) rules with an iron fist, doling out meagre amounts of water to the masses, while keeping a stable of wives for himself to breed future warlords. His most trusted Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) has betrayed him and freed these women from their lives of sexual slavery. Now, the chase is on, as Immortan Joe and his party of warboys set out to retrieve their "property". If Furiosa and co. are to succeed, they’ll need the help of Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a wandering road warrior in search of a cause. Director George Miller has crafted the most dynamic, vibrant and sensational action blockbuster of the decade with Fury Road. it’s an inventive, high-octane kick in the guts to a film industry that has played it safe for far too long. The chases and stunts in this film are unparalleled. Best of all, the film's cut-to-the-chase plot manages to sneak in a powerful and extremely timely rebuttal to patriarchy.

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Boyka: Undisputed

Boyka: Undisputed

Fight fans raised on the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Donnie Yen are no doubt familiar with Scott Adkins, the British martial arts sensation that has made a name for himself as a heavy in big Hollywood blockbusters (Doctor Strange, The Expendables 2, The Bourne Ultimatum) and as a leading man with a number of franchises under his (black) belt (Ninja 1 & 2, Undisputed 2 & 3). Now, Adkins has returned to what is arguably his best character with Boyka: Undisputed, which has been made available to stream on Netflix for the first time. For those who haven't seen the previous two Adkins entries in the Undisputed series, Boyka is a Russian prison fighter who entered the series as a villain in the second instalment, only to become the hero in the third film. In Boyka: Undisputed, we follow the beastly fighter as he tries to find redemption by helping the wife of a man he accidentally killed in the ring. Come for the phenomenally-staged, CGI-free fight sequences, but stay for the sincere story. 

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: N/A

Marvel's Doctor Strange

Marvel's Doctor Strange

Marvel's first cosmic adventure film, Doctor Strange sees the talented surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) turn to the mystical arts in search of a cure for his mangled hands. More arrogant than the usual Marvel superhero (yes, even more so than Tony Stark), Doctor Strange must learn to get over his own ego before he can rise up and be the hero he was born to be. With trippy visuals and mind-bending twists that make the film Inception look tame by comparison, Doctor Strange is both familiar and incredibly unique among the superhero blockbusters that have been released so far. 

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Rambo

Rambo

Living off the grid in Southeast Asia, John Rambo is dragged back on to the battlefield once more when a group of missionaries is taken hostage by despicable war criminals in war-torn Burma. To get them back, he's going to have to blast through an entire army. Kicking the level of gruesome violence up to the extreme, Rambo is not a film for the squeamish. However, if you love the character and enjoy seeing irredeemable baddies get torn apart by 50-caliber machine gun fire and makeshift machetes, this is the movie for you – just don't expect high art (check out the disparity between the IMDB user score and Rotten Tomatoes critic score below).

IMDB Rating: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 37%

Con Air

Con Air

One of the most entertaining action movies of the '90s, the Nicolas Cage vehicle (in more ways than one) Con Air has been added to Netflix Australia. After spending seven years in jail for accidentally killing a man while protecting his wife, newly paroled ex-con (and former US Ranger) Cameron Poe (Cage) is on a prisoner transport plane heading home to meet his daughter for the first time. Unfortunately for him, this is going to be one bumpy ride, as a group of death row inmates who are also onboard decide to hijack the plane in a last ditch attempt at freedom. Packed with colourful characters and terrific one-liners, Con Air is the kind of brawny action movie they just don't make anymore.

IMDB Rating: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 56%

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War

Though Marvel Studios films are known for being visually spectacular, action-packed and epic in scope, the real reason audiences around the world have embraced the Marvel Cinematic Universe is because of its characters. While we may have our favourites, we've spent enough time with the likes of Iron Man and Captain America to know what these beloved heroes stand for – they don't always agree with each other, but this dynamic of differing opinions is the key to The Avengers successful. That's all well and good when there's a clear enemy to face, but what happens when these super-powered individuals fall on opposing sides of an issue that strikes at very heart of the team? Answer: friends and teammates will go to war with each other. Easily the Marvel film with the highest emotional stakes to date, Captain America: Civil War is a phenomenal entry in the ongoing Marvel saga, one that provides no easy answers. Neither side is wrong about its stance, yet we know that there will ultimately be only one victor. 

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Django Unchained

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino is loved and revered for his work in American cinema, and lately his takes on classic '70s movies. Like his take on Inglourious Basterds before it, Django Unchained deals with role reversal in a historically controversial time. The story of revenge and justice, Django (played by Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz) set off to hunt down a gang of felons before the ultimate promise of setting Django free. Like other Tarantino films, it doesn't shy away from the grotesque and gory or mind going against the grain, making it easy to recommend and easier to watch time and time again. And, Netflix also provides QT fans with the ability to stream his classic films Inglourious Basterds and Reservoir Dogs.

IMDB Rating: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

Need some kid-friendly entertainment that will make the whole family happy? We've selected some of the best family movies that Netflix Australia has to offer. Each one of these films is guaranteed to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. 

Beauty and the Beast

An utterly enchanting and completely magnificent live-action adaptation of one of Disney's most celebrated animated classics, Beauty and the Beast absolutely nails the source material — maybe even betters it in some regards. Much of the praise can be bestowed upon Emma Watson, who plays Belle with grace and warmth. The same can be said about Dan Stevens, who spends the film injecting life into the computer-generated Beast. Luke Evans comes close to stealing the show, though as the vicious and vain Gaston. We're also pleased to report that all of the original film's songs are present and accounted for, so gather the whole family and settle in for a wonderful night singing, laughing and crying. 

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Batman Movie

If you loved Will Arnett's hilarious take on the Caped Crusader in The Lego Movie, you're going to be over the moon to see him take centre stage in his very own block-filled blockbuster! In The Lego Batman Movie, all of the Dark Knight's villains are teaming up to take over Gotham City, and it's up to Batman and his newly adopted sidekick Robin (Michael Cera) to stop them! With an incredible cast of comedic superstars in tow, including Zach Galifianakis as the Joker, Conan O'Brien as The Riddler and Riki Lindhome as Poison Ivy, The Lego Batman Movie keeps the laughs coming for its entire runtime. Quite frankly, it's the best Batman film since The Dark Knight.

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Moana

Moana

Having achieved monumental success with its film Frozen, Disney had a lot to live up to with its next major 'Disney Princess' movie, and it still managed to blow away expectations with Moana – a visually stunning tale of an independent free-spirit (played by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho) who sets off on a journey to save her island from a devastating curse indadvertedly set by the selfish demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Though it follows all the familiar Disney beats that we've come to expect over the years, Moana is well written, wonderfully animated and terrifically acted. You may also find its many catchy songs stuck in your head for days after watching it. 

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom) is a writer/director know for his whimsical and inimitable style, with characters who are fleshed out (regardless of whether they're actually people) and have warmth and heart to spare. With his first foray into family-fare, Fantastic Mr. Fox, the visionary filmmaker succeeded in creating his most accessible film to date. Based on the classic story by Roald Dahl, the film follows a wily fox (played with incredible charm and terrific comedic timing by George Clooney) who bandies together with his family (voiced by Meryl Streep and Jason Schwartzman) and friends (including voice work from regular Wes Anderson collaborator, Bill Murray) to fight off the mean farmers that plan to destroy their homes. Featuring wonderful stop-motion animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a heartfelt and hilarious film that's destined to become a family favourite. 

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant

Criminally overlooked by audiences upon initial release, The Iron Giant is an animated film that has steadily grown in appreciation over the years, to the point where many traditional animation purists now consider it an undisputed classic. The feature-length debut of director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), and Set during the 1950s at the height of the 'Red Scare' period of America's history, The Iron Giant tells the story of a lonely boy named Hogarth (Eli Marienthal) who makes a new best friend in an enormous amnesiac robot (Vin Diesel). The robot eventually realises that he was actually built as a weapon, and before long, the authorities find out about him and set out on a quest to destroy the gentle giant. Now the boy and his metallic friend have to protect each other at all costs. A touching film in the tradition of E.T. the Extra-terrestrial, The Iron Giant deserves to be considered as not just a terrific animated film, but as one the greatest films of the '90s, period. 

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Back to the Future

Back to the Future

A time-travelling classic from director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) and producer Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Back to the Future sees 1980s teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) race back to the 1950s to ensure that his parents meet during high school and fall in love – he better succeed, because if he fails, he'll be wiped from existence in his current timeline! To do this, he'll need help from Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) – an eccentric scientist who's built a working time machine in the form of a DeLorean sports car. A fantastic fish-out-of-water tale that leans heavily on 1950s nostalgia, great performances and terrific visual effects, Back to the Future can be considered a high-watermark from everyone involved.

IMDB Rating: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Zootopia

Zootopia

More than just a cute movie about talking animals, Disney's Zootopia cleverly sneaks messages about prejudice, tolerance, and even the war on drugs, into its animated take on cop movie procedurals. Though its characters may be bunnies, foxes and other wild animals, the idea of not judging someone by their race (or in this case, species) is more important than ever right now. Gorgeously animated with loveable characters and a hilarious script full of jokes that only adults will get (there's even a Breaking Bad reference at one point), Zootopia continues Disney's streak of incredible animated films. Now bring on Zootopia 2!

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%


Sat, 30 Jun 2018 23:11:00 +0000
The best movies on Netflix: great films you can watch in Australia right now
Sick of browsing endlessly? Don't know what to search for? These are the movies on Netflix you have to see.

The Apple TV is a neat device that turns any TV into a Smart TV and you've come to the right place if you're looking for Apple TV deals, including all the latest information on how to buy the new Apple TV 4K.

You'll be able to stream online content from major apps like Netflix and iPlayer, and there's a huge wealth of App store and iTunes content to enjoy on the big screen too. For the older Apple TV units, there is no native app for Amazon Instant Video though. Thankfully, Apple and Amazon have called a truce for the upcoming Apple TV 4K, which will finally see the Netflix rival join Apple TV.

The new Apple TV 4K is available now from $179/£179. The fourth generation Apple TV (aka the 2015 model) usually costs around $149/£139 for the 32GB version, so you shouldn't pay any more. We'll run through the best deals for the 3rd and 4th generation models too. The outdated older-gen models have been discontinued, so we haven't included them in the roundup. 

Apple is remarkably slow to the 4K streaming race and hasn't done itself any favours by coming in with the most expensive price compared to the Amazon Fire TV, or the best Roku deals and Chromecast Ultra deals.

Apple TV 4K deals

Talk about being late to the party! Fans of all things Apple have been waiting for a Ultra HD Apple TV 4K for a few years now while the likes of Amazon, Roku and Google have all beaten the Cupertino firm to the punch. Apple TV 4K is finally available to buy though.

The Apple TV 4K has some catching up to do, but will come with 4K and HDR (High Dynamic Range) support. The inclusion of Amazon Instant Video support means this could become your new all-in-one device if you're already settled into the Apple ecosystem. It can go one better than the competition too thanks to Dolby Vision support, not that there's a huge amount of DV content yet. Apple TV 4K prices start at $179, £179, AU$249 for the 32GB version, then $199, £199, AU$279 for the 64GB  model.

Cheap Apple TV deals

Apple TV 4th gen (2015) deals

The 2015 version of Apple TV is on sale now and was seen as the best yet in the series before the Apple TV 4K came along. An updated remote control with a touchpad and a Siri-friendly microphone will make iPhone users feel right at home. There are 32GB and 64GB models available. The 32GB Apple TV should be enough for most users, especially if you're mainly going to stream media.

Cheap Apple TV deals

Apple TV 3rd gen deals

You can save a lot of money if you're willing to opt for the older third generation Apple TV. This was the first Apple TV to feature 1080p, so you're still set for full HD loveliness. The remote control is a bit dated compared to the new Siri-friendly one on the 4th gen machine, but you still have the option of using the AirPlay app on an iPad/iPhone instead. There's no on-board storage, so this model is strictly for streaming only. This version has an optional optical out audio connection - a feature cut from the 2015 model for some reason.


Sat, 30 Jun 2018 23:08:00 +0000
The best Apple TV deals in July 2018
Our guide for the very best Apple TV prices is updated and checked every day.

In a video streaming world dominated by Netflix, Amazon, Google and Apple among others, Roku is the plucky underdog that continues to hold its own. Now is a great time to get a discounted Roku deal too.

The Roku is a media streaming box that plus into your TV via an HDMI port. It turns any old TV into a super smart one, adding Netflix, Amazon, Spotify and Now TV streaming, screen mirroring, game playing and on the latest versions, 4K and HDR playback.

The Roku family is your one-stop shop for all your streaming needs without tying you in to any particular service or app store.

The Roku Premiere+ and Roku Express in particular are two of our absolute favourite living room devices. If you're thinking of picking one of these up, we couldn't recommend them more highly. By comparison, you could check out our Chromecast deals  or Amazon's Fire TV and Fire TV stick prices, the latter of which will surely get a big discount on Amazon Prime Day.

Here are the best Roku deals currently available...

Roku Streaming Stick Plus deals

A tiny yet superb 4K streaming device

Roku continues to give rival streaming devices something to worry about as the new Roku Streaming Stick Plus is super modern, super small and, most importantly, super cheap. Not to mention, unlike many of the older models on this page it's been released in the UK too. Now Brits can finally join the 4K Roku party like the US has been enjoying for years! You're even getting HDR content from supported apps too.

Roku Premiere+ deals

The best value 4K HDR streaming device

The Roku Premiere+ is the best intersection of value and performance for a 4K streaming player available right now. It's a capable piece of hardware and the Plus version includes HDR (High Dynamic Range) playback over the older Premiere model. An optional ethernet connection enables smooth 4K HDR streaming if your Wi-Fi isn't quite up to the task. We're loving the option for private listening via the headphones plugged into the remote too. Note: This Roku was not released in the UK. So don't expect many (if any) UK prices below.

Roku Premiere deals

An excellent 4K streaming device

This standard Roku Premiere lacks a few key features compared to the Roku Premiere+ above. Say goodbye to HDR and ports for an ethernet connection and MicroSD card. You can't plug headphones into the remote either. As a 4K streamer, this is a bargain, but we'd advise opting for the Plus model as the aforementioned features are a steal for a few dollars more. You might find 4K streaming a smoother experience when cabled in instead of Wi-Fi too. This Roku was not released in the UK either. So don't expect many (if any) UK prices below. 

Roku Ultra deals

The one with all the features

The Roku Ultra is the most feature-packed of all the Roku media streamers. It has all the quality 4K and HDR streaming and ports of the Roku Premiere+. So what do you get for the extra cash? The remote control gets the most attention on the Ultra as it can be used for voice search, it has extra buttons to make it a handy game controller and there's even a little speaker to help you find it via a button on the console. There's also a USB storage slot and an optical out audio port. So, handy extras, but the Premiere+ is arguably better value for money. This Roku was not released in the UK either. So don't expect many (if any) UK prices below.

roku 4 deals

Roku 4 deals

Once the Roku champion, now usurped by the Roku Ultra

The 4K-capable Roku 4 is slowly being phased out by the newer Roku Ultra. The two streaming devices are largely similar in terms of features, but the Roku Ultra is arguably the one to go for as it features enhanced sound and allows for HDR (High Dynamic Range) streaming too. With the Ultra generally costing the same, or maybe $15 more at most, we'd go for that one first for a bit of future-proofing. Note: This Roku was not released in the UK. So don't expect many (if any) UK prices below.

roku 3 deals

Roku 3 deals

The Roku 3 is the best Roku model available in the UK

Where the Roku 3 really scores is in its wonderful usability, be it the blazing processor speed or the improved functionality the hardware tweaks have bestowed upon it. It's responsive, simple and not beholden to a proprietary content library. Whether you're looking for a streaming box to help you cut the cord, or augment your cable subscription, the Roku 3 has the features, build quality and simplicity you're looking for. US buyers may want to pay a little bit more for the Roku Premiere instead and get 4K streaming.

Roku Express deals

The best entry-level streamer

For US buyers, this is the cheapest Roku family member. The Roku Express is newer and cheaper than the Roku Streaming Stick and does all the same jobs. If you want tot turn any HDMI TV into a Smart TV for as little as possible - this is for you. Although, the Quad-Core enabled Roku Streaming Stick does fun a bit faster. It's not for you if you live in the UK though, but you can still buy the similar Roku Streaming Stick below.

Roku streaming stick deals

Roku Streaming Stick deals

It's a Roku streamer in HDMI-stick form like a Chromecast

It's not quite as affordable as the Chromecast, but it has more of the apps that people want right now, including Amazon Instant Video. That's significant because Amazon often has cheaper HD movie rentals than other services. There are a number of new streaming devices out right now, but the the Roku Streaming Stick stands as the most efficient way to make a normal HDTV into a smart TV without springing for a pricier set-top box. Newer models have surpassed this one though and it's increasingly hard to get hold of in the UK. In all honesty, we'd opt for the Roku Streaming Stick Plus (near the top of this list) as it's not that much more expensive at all and can show 4K HDR content.


Sat, 30 Jun 2018 23:06:00 +0000
The best Roku deals in July 2018
If you're after a new Roku, we've found all of the best deals so you can get the cheapest price.

The Google Chromecast is not only one of the most useful and innovative gadgets of the last few years, it's also dazzlingly cheap. And if you're looking to pick one up for the cheapest possible price, you've come to the right place!

Chromecast is a Wi-Fi HDMI dongle that you plug directly into your TV. From there you can use your smartphone or tablet to 'throw' video at your TV over Wi-Fii, whether it be Netflix movies, live football matches from the major broadcasters or simply just a funny YouTube video. On this page we'll find you the best prices for the Chromecast Ultra, Chromecast 2 (or just Chromecast now) and Chromecast Audio and explain how they differ.

With prices already incredibly cheap, there's no need to hang on for the sales. If you're in the UK or US and would prefer to stream content from a standalone box, you should take a look at the latest Roku deals. Or maybe hold on for a better deal around Amazon Prime Day?

What is a good Chromecast deal?

This one's easy. The standard price for a Chromecast 2 is $35 in the USA, £30 in the UK and $58 in Australia. You should never, ever pay more than that because you can always find one for that price.

cheap chromecast deals

Chromecast 2 deals

The Chromecast 2, or 'new Chromecast' as it's also known, is very similar to the now discontinued 2013 Chromecast. Sure, it looks a little different. And it's got slightly faster network performance and a few other tweaks such as coming with a dangly cable instead of as a rigid stick. But essentially the same product in a different shape - that's why the prices were basically the same. If you can find one for the same price, get this new one.

cheap chromecast audio deals

Chromecast Audio deals

While it doesn't offer true multi-room streaming at the moment (fingers crossed that comes soon), this easy-to-use and affordable device modernizes any trusty set of wired speakers you already own with wireless capabilities. In doing so, it also opens them up to features that will grow and get even better over time. Got an old set of speakers or an ancient iPod dock? Turn it into a wireless speaker with Chromecast Audio!

cheap chromecast ultra deals

Chromecast Ultra deals

The 4K Chromecast Ultra is the newest member of the Chromecast family. If you have a 4K TV or are planning on getting one, it's certainly worth picking one of these up. The Chromecast Ultra is a cheaper alternative to Amazon's Fire TV or the US-only Roku 4 for getting 4K content on your TV. Chromecast Ultra deals are usually around £69/US$69/AU$95, so anything cheaper is an added bonus.


Tue, 26 Jun 2018 09:10:00 +0000
The best Chromecast deals in July 2018
We check Chromecast prices from thousands of retailers every day so you always get the cheapest deals.

Best 4K Blu-ray Player Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Players you can buy in 2018.

If you are after a 4K Blu-ray player, this tells us one key thing. You care about quality. 

The world may have moved onto streamed video, looking at discs like relics of the DVD age, but no consumer video stream will get close to the quality of a 4K Blu-ray. 

And if you have a great 4K TV like an LG C8 OLED, it deserves some 4K Blu-ray pampering. 

In 2018 the "4K" tax for Blu-ray players has largely gone too. Out favourite decks may still be on the pricey side, but there are affordable picks if the budget is tight. 

And many will support 4K Netflix, not available in some 4K TVs.

Netflix has started to film many of its shows in 4K high dynamic range, and Amazon and Google Play TV & Movies have recently followed suit. Ultra HD films have started to make their way to store shelves, too, in greater number and include huge hits like The Martian, Wonder Woman and The Revenant. 

But these are just the tip of the very high-resolution iceberg. Hundreds of films are now available as 4K Blu-ray dsics. Which player should you buy, though?

What else do I need to watch a UHD Blu-ray?

In order to get a true 4K experience, remember that you'll need a 4K Blu-ray player, a 4K Blu-ray disc and, of course, a 4K TV in order to watch it. Don't have that last one? Check out our guide to the best 4K TV.

If you don't have a 4K TV, your 4K Blu-ray player will still work, but it will only display images in 1080p. Buy a regular Blu-ray instead of a 4K version and it will still play in 3840 × 2160 resolution, but it won't be a native 4K image and will be noticeably different than had you used an Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Enough with the caveats. Here are the the best 4K Blu-ray players in the world:

  1. Panasonic DMP-UB700 
  2. Oppo UDP-203 
  3. Sony UBP-X800
  4. Panasonic DMP-UB900 
  5. Samsung UBD-M9500 
  6. Sony UBP-X1000ES
  7. Panasonic DMP-UB300 
  8. Xbox One X
  9. Xbox One S 
  10. Samsung UBD-K8500

The Panasonic DMP-U700 is the 4K Blu-ray player we end up recommending most often. It's more affordable than an Oppo deck, and still gets you the amazing picture quality of Panasonic's top-end DMP-U900.   

Streaming service support, with HDR-enabled 4K Netflix, is well worth trumpeting and the player does a swell job with 24-bit audio. It supports both FLAC and DSD files. 

There's no Dolby Vision support, perhaps the main reason to upgrade to the DMP-UB900. But as it stands the UB700 offers the best balance of price, audio visual performance and features. 

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-UB700

Oppo makes the best Blu-ray players in the world. Or made, we should say. Oppo announced its intention to stop making headphones and Blu-rays players earlier this year.

The Oppo UDP-203 may be the most expensive Blu-ray player on this list, but perhaps you should grab one while you can. 

It supports a full suite of both video and audio formats, including the niche SACD, and features three HDMI ports (one for video and audio, one for audio, and another to act as an HDMI passthrough).

It even supports the premium Dolby Vision HDR standard, which is still a rarity in players.

Unfortunately the Oppo doesn't include support for streaming services such as Netflix, but if you want a premium disc player (at a premium price), this is the one for you. It's of particular interest to audiophiles.

Read the full review: Oppo UDP-203

Sony might have been a little late to the Ultra HD Blu-ray party, but its first player is a great machine. It's solidly made, and its overall image quality is superb. 

As an added bonus, the player also supports a wide range of audio formats, can play SACDs, and even DVD-As. 

So why does the player sit the number three slot in our list? Well, unfortunately it lacks support for Dolby Vision, the high-end HDR format that discs are increasingly offering support for, and which the Oppo UDP-203 does now support thanks to a firmware update. Its also more expensive than our top pick, the Panasonic DMP-UB700. 

If you want a UHD player that also doubles as a very capable music player, then the Sony UBP-X800 is a great choice, but if you're after something focussed solely on playing movies, then there are better or cheaper options out there. 

Read the full review: Sony UBP-X800

Best 4K Blu-ray player

The DMP-UB900 will restore you faith in physical media. In full 4K HDR guise it offers a level of performance that will have new 4K TV owners gasping. Ultra-HD Blu-ray brings the experience of 4K digital cinema to the home, and rewards with brilliant colour fidelity, deep contrast and almost three-dimensional clarity.

Factor in solid file playback support, plus 4K iterations of Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, and you have a machine that'll make your new 4K HDR TV look sensational.

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-UB900

Looking back at it now, Samsung’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Samsung UBD-K8500 (found further down the list) seems like a bit of a trial run.

Its build quality was rudimental as Samsung tried to undercut rival debut units on price. It didn’t carry any sort of built-in display. Its picture quality was OK as a starting point for a new format, but was soon overwhelmed by more heavy duty rivals. And while the deck did what it needed to, its feature count was soon exposed as pretty limited. 

The new $399 (£450, about AU$500) UBD-M9500 feels like such a specific response to its predecessor’s limitations that you can almost imagine Samsung sitting down and ticking the old problems off one by one. 

The result is a far more accomplished player that deserves a seat at the serious mid-range 4K Blu-ray player table - even though a couple of deliberate omissions might frustrate some quarters of the AV enthusiast market.

Read the full review: Samsung UBD-M9500

The UBP-X1000ES is Sony’s premium 4K Blu-ray offering, a posh stablemate to the unfeasibly fine UBP-X800. In terms of performance and value, the latter can be considered one of the best value UHD Blu-ray players available, so clearly this more expensive sibling needs to be rather special to warrant a premium. 

To that end, the UBP-X1000ES delivers pristine UHD Blu-ray images and its audio performance is excellent, be it via HDMI or two channel analogue. The player is also artfully built, and incorporates a high-end 192kHz/ 32bit DAC and offers a gold-plated phono analogue audio output on the rear. 

Ultimately, though, the X1000ES is considerably more expensive than the UBP-X800, and doesn’t quite have the feature roster of the Dolby Vision-enabled, MQA-playing Oppo UHD-203 - and if you’re looking for a UHD player with comparable audio chops (although admittedly not universal disc compatibility), then Panasonic’s DMP-UB900 provides cheaper competition.  

Read the full review: Sony UBP-X1000ES

You'll make a couple of compromises if you want to take advantage of the DMP UB300's budget price-tag – there's no built-in Wi-Fi for example, and rear ports are incredibly limited – but thankfully the machine doesn't scrimp where it matters. 

Picture quality is excellent, it supports a wide range of audio codecs and formats, and there's also streaming services built in if you're willing to go down the wired ethernet route. 

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-UB300

The Xbox One X is a beast of a gaming console. It offers 6 teraflops of performance, 12GB of GDDR5 RAM and an eight-core CPU clocked at 2.3GHz. By far and away, it's the most powerful device listed on this page. But despite all that power under the hood, it's not the best 4K Blu-ray player. Sure, it can play 4K UHD discs - and it even supports Dolby Atmos audio - but the images that it produces aren't likely to blow you away. That's probably because the Xbox One X doesn't have the same level of picture-upscaling that some of the other dedicated media players on this list have. While the Xbox One X might not be as good of a 4K Blu-ray player as the Oppo or the Sony, we'd like to see either one of those players handle an Xbox One X game.

Read the full review: Xbox One X

Not holding the title of a "proper Blu-ray player" doesn't stop the Xbox One S from being a great, cheap way to play 4K Blu-ray discs. 

Sporting a Blu-ray disc drive and the capacity to run Netflix in 4K Ultra-HD, Microsoft's latest iteration of the Xbox is a great 'jack-of-all-trades' machine that's capable of satisfying your UHD disc needs as well as playing the latest console game released for the system. 

The downside of it being able to do everything is that you'll be working with an interface designed primarily for gaming. The controller that comes with the console isn't the most efficient way to control movie playback, and the machine lacks support for Dolby Vision. 

Regardless, if you want a machine that can handle both your gaming and your home cinema needs, the Xbox One S is the console for the job. 

Read the full review: Xbox One S

Best 4K Blu-ray player

The K8500 is currently the cheapest route into 4K Blu-ray. It's also a useful hub for 4K OTT services from Netflix and Amazon, and while the design is a bit Marmite, you'll be consistently impressed by its loading speed and colourful UI.

You can get better image quality, support for more formats and better build quality by spending more money, but if you want a cheap machine that covers the basics, then the Samsung UBD-K8500 is yet to be beaten on price. 

Read the full review: Samsung UBD-K8500


Thu, 21 Jun 2018 07:05:42 +0000
The best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players you can buy right now
They're few in number right now, but 4K Blu-ray players are really picking up steam.

As the number of shows and movies available to stream in Australia continues to grow at an impressive rate, it can be tough to keep up with all the new additions to each streaming service each month.

We've all come to anticipate a new stable of Netflix Originals releases each month, but figuring out which shows they are and when exactly they become available isn't so easy. And what about the large number licensed shows and films that are made available to stream, if only for a limited time?

In an effort to keep you informed of the best shows and movies that are in the process of being added to Netflix, we'll be bringing you an updated list of what you can expect on the service on a monthly basis. 

Not only that, we'll also be singling out the biggest releases, as well as a number of quality TV shows and films which we believe deserve your Netflixing time. 

So get ready to kick off the month with an epic binge – here's what's new on Netflix in July 2018. Check out our top picks in the highlights video below!

TV shows highlights for July 2018

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: New 2018: Freshly Brewed (6/7/2018) 

Finally! New episodes of Jerry Seinfeld's magnificent series in which he... Well, the title says it all, really. Guests include a number of comedy heavyweights, Jerry including the late Jerry Lewis, Ellen DeGeneres and Dave Chappelle. 

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale: Part 2 (15/7/2018) 

Though it started as a weekly clip show that would release every Sunday, Netflix has changed things up by releasing a number of episodes of The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale in a batch, meaning you can binge right through them in an afternoon and then come to terms with the agonising wait until new episodes arrive. Worth it!

Orange Is the New Black: Season 6 (27/7/2018) 

Netflix's award-winning prison drama Orange is the New Black is back for its sixth season, which sees the women taken to maximum security prison in the wake of last season's riot.

Movies highlights for July 2018

The Fast and the Furious (1/7/2018) 

The film that started it all, The Fast and the Furious sees undercover police officer Brian O'Connor (the late Paul Walker) decide where his loyalty really lies when he becomes enamoured with the street racing family, led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), which he has been sent in to take down. If you still need more Fast and Furious action, you can follow the original film with the next four entries — all added to Netflix on the same day!

The Shining (15/7/2018) 

Here's Johnny! Stanley Kubrick's masterful horror film The Shining sees a family's visit to an isolated hotel turn extremely dark when an evil spiritual presence influences the father (Jack Nicholson) into violence. Meanwhile, his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Superbad (1/7/2018) 

Two best friends (played by Michael Cera and Jonah Hill), along with their geeky sidekick, McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), go on a quest to buy alcohol for a party in the hopes of scoring with the girls of their dreams (one of which is played by Emma Stone). Things don't quite go to plan, thanks in part to a pair of party animal cops (played by Seth Rogen and Bill Hader). One thing's for certain — this will be a night they'll never forget.

...and the rest for July 2018

ORIGINAL SERIES

The Comedy Lineup (3/7/2018) 

Good Girls (3/7/2018) 

Anne with an E: Season 2 (6/7/2018) 

Sacred Games (6/7/2018) 

Samantha! (6/7/2018) 

On Children (8/7/2018) 

Sugar Rush (13/7/2018) 

Bonusfamiljen: Season 2 (15/7/2018) 

Amazing Interiors (20/7/2018) 

Jimmy: The True Story of a True Idiot (20/7/2018) 

Final Space (20/7/2018) 

Roman Empire: Reign of Blood: Master of Rome (27/7/2018) 

Welcome to the Family (27/7/2018) 

A Very Secret Service: Season 2 (30/7/2018) 

Terrace House: Opening New Doors: Part 3 (31/7/2018) 

El Chapo: Season 3 (Coming Soon) 

NETFLIX FILM

The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter (6/7/2018) 

The Skin of The Wolf (6/7/2018) 

How It Ends (13/7/2018) 

Father of the Year (20/7/2018) 

The Warning (24/7/2018) 

Extinction (27/7/2018) 

ORIGINAL COMEDY

Jim Jefferies: This Is Me Now (13/7/2018) 

Iliza Shlesinger: Elder Millennial (24/7/2018) 

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY 

First Team: Juventus: Part B (6/7/2018) 

Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons: Season 2 (6/7/2018) 

Somebody Feed Phil: The Second Course (6/7/2018) 

Drug Lords: Season 2 (10/7/2018) 

Dark Tourist (20/7/2018) 

Last Chance U: EMCC & Life After (20/7/2018) 

Last Chance U: INDY: Part 1 (20/7/2018) 

The Bleeding Edge (27/7/2018) 

NETFLIX KIDS AND FAMILY

Free Rein: Season 2 (6/7/2018) 

White Fang (7/7/2018) 

The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants (13/7/2018) 

Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh: Season 4 (20/7/2018) 

Luna Petunia: Return to Amazia: Season 2 (20/7/2018) 

The Worst Witch: Season 2 (27/7/2018) 

Cupcake & Dino - General Services (27/7/2018) 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Suits: Season 7 (13/7/2018) 

Geostorm (22/7/2018)

Bad Moms (23/7/2018) 

Rush Hour 3 (1/7/2018) 

Practical Magic (1/7/2018) 

This Is the End (1/7/2018)  

The Day After Tomorrow (1/7/2018) 

Pineapple Express (1/7/2018) 

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (1/7/2018) 

Shameless: Series 4-10 (1/7/2018) 

Doc Martin: Series 4-7 (1/7/2018) 

Queens of Comedy: Season 2 (1/7/2018) 

2 Fast 2 Furious (1/7/2018) 

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (1/7/2018) 

Fast & Furious (1/7/2018) 

Fast Five (1/7/2018)

Ghost Rider (1/7/2018) 

The Sitter (1/7/2018) 

Legends of the Fall (1/7/2018) 

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (1/7/2018)

Tammy (5/7/2018)

Battleship (6/7/2018)

Step Up 3 (6/7/2018)

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (6/7/2018) 

Project X (7/7/2018)

From Dusk Till Dawn: Season 3 (2/7/2018) 

Sing Street (9/7/2018) 

Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (11/7/2018)

This Is Where I Leave You (12/7/2018)

Hyori's Bed & Breakfast: Season 2 (12/7/2018) 

Horrible Bosses 2 (19/7/2018)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (21/7/2018)

What's coming next month and beyond?

Netflix has has big plans for 2018, with a number of high-profile shows and movies confirmed for release on the service. Here's our list of the best upcoming TV shows and movies on Netflix.


Mon, 18 Jun 2018 14:44:00 +0000
What's new on Netflix Australia for July 2018
All new episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee lead our list of the best new shows on Netflix this month.

Now that Sony has announced the PS4 is reaching the end of its lifecycle, our minds have inevitably turned to thinking about the PS5. As if they weren't doing that already anyway. 

At the moment Sony is keeping very quiet when it comes to specific plans for the PS5. While we know that a PlayStation 5 release date will one day exist thanks to Sony's President and CEO, Shawn Layden, who confirmed as much in an interview with Golem.de, we don't know when this day will come. 

At the moment, it doesn't seem like its going to be especially soon. Between Sony's financial forecasts, the pace of the development of new technology, and the best guesses of analysts it looks like the PS5 is at least two or three years away. 

That doesn't mean we can't get excited about the next generation, though. We all know that the rumors, wish lists and alarmingly convincing 'leaked' renders in the run up to a console reveal are a big part of the fun. 

In the spirit of this we've put together this article which runs through what we most want to see from the console and what we think it's stand-out features might be when it comes. 

Something we do know for certain, at least, is that the PS5 won't be present at E3 2018. The show is drawing ever closer, but Shawn Layden has said fans shouldn't expect any hardware from Sony this year. 

[Update: A recent report from Wccftech suggests that the PS5 will be powered by an AMD Navi GPU which is in line with previous reports from SemiAccurate. Unlike SemiAccurate's report however, Wccftech suggests the release of the console will be closer to 2020 rather than 2018 which seems like a far more plausible date, if still ever so slightly too soon.]

PS5 Release date

With no official word from Sony, it's difficult to know exactly when we might get to see a PS5.

Analysts are predicting we could see the PlayStation 5 as soon as 2018 but the most likely outcome is 2020 or 2021. 

Speaking to GamingBolt, Michael Pachter said that though he thinks the PS5 will be a half step and will be backwards compatible with the PS4 Pro he doesn't think we'll see it until "2019 or 2020 but probably 2019." 

This slightly later release, he says, would make more sense as it would fall in line with predictions for when the 4K TV market in the US will reach 50%. "I think Sony has probably got the next console cycle lined up already", he says, "I think they already know what they've got to do."

More recently Pachter reiterated this claim, saying that Sony would most likely release the new console in 2020. He added that at this time he thinks the PS4 Pro will become the base model PlayStation and will see a reduction in price. 

A recent report from Kotaku's Jason Schreier backs up this thinking. He spoke to a number of developers about likely release dates with most of the conversations pointing to a 2020 release. He writes: "There is information about the PlayStation 5 floating around at both first- and third-party companies, but it’s far more limited than it would be if the console’s release was imminent."

A recent Wall Street Journal report points to a release around three years away, with Sony's John Kodera  stating “We will use the next three years to prepare the next step, to crouch down so that we can jump higher in the future." 

Not long after this, Sony's new CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida, released a three-year business plan for the company which predicted the company's profits would dip in the run up to 2021. This is the kind of dip that may come as the PlayStation 4 reaches market saturation, before the launch of the PS5.

Although we're hideously impatient for news of a PlayStation 5 release date we can't fault Sony for taking another few years to really milk the last of the PS4 given it's massive and committed player base. After all, the PS4 Pro is still relatively new to the market and its direct competitor, the Microsoft's Xbox One X, is an even more recent release. 

However, industry insider Jez Corden and a recent Microsoft job listing have hinted that Microsoft is already thinking about the next Xbox. That means it's highly unlikely that Sony isn't currently doing the same and is, perhaps, even further along in the process. 

If we're honest, we can't really see any urgent need to start a new generation right now. And given Microsoft's growing commitment to backwards compatibility, we think it's key for Sony to really think about its next steps. 

These rumors of a two to three year wait make a lot of sense to us. 

PS5 news and rumors

Without any official PS5 announcement from Sony, solid news is pretty thin on the ground at the moment. But, as always, we do have rumors and we've collected and assessed them right here.

The Wall Street Journal report

The PlayStation 5 may be around three years away if a recent Wall Street Journal report on John Kodera and Sony is anything to go by. According to the journal Kodera said “We will use the next three years to prepare the next step, to crouch down so that we can jump higher in the future." 

Not long after this, Sony's new CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida, released a three-year business plan for the company which predicted the company's profits would dip in the run up to 2021. This is the kind of dip that may come as the PlayStation 4 reaches market saturation, before the launch of the PS5.

John Kodera talks life cycles

PlayStation's John Kodera has been discussing the future of the PS4 at Sony's Corporate Strategy Meeting and, by extension, inadvertently creating space for prospective PS5 release year rumors.

During the meeting, Kodera made it clear that Sony is still very much behind the console but warned that sales are expected to slow this year, in line with expectations as market saturation approaches. As a console gets to this point in its lifecycle, it's natural to start looking forward to the next iteration. 

Kodera stated that the time passing now until 2021 would be a period where Sony would hunker down which suggests that a new big idea could be around the corner. Perhaps 2021 will be the time to expect the PS5?

No E3 2018 appearance

We can now be absolutely sure that the PlayStation 5 won't appear at E3 2018 during Sony's conference. During his recent appearance on PlayStation Blogcast, Sony's Shawn Layden firmly said that there will be no new hardware announcements from the company at the show. Instead, PlayStation is trying to refresh its approach this year and will be offering deep dives into four of its biggest upcoming games: Death Stranding, Spider-Man, The Last of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima. 

Eurogamer tech analysis

A recent report from Eurogamer has attempted to narrow down a possible release date based on when technologies advanced enough to justify a generational leap will be available to Sony. The most important things that will need to advance will be the console's processor and its memory and in both cases, Eurogamer has determined that we're unlikely to see a new console released before the very end of 2019.

Even if Sony did manage to push its console out at this date, the cost of production would make the PS5 far too expensive, making it more likely that we won't see the console released until the end of 2020 if Sony has any intention of making it an appealing proposition. 

Andrew House talks the next generation

Former Sony chief, Andrew House, has been speaking about what the next generation of consoles could look like at the GamesBeat conference recently. Though House refused to comment specifically on the PlayStation 5 itself, he did say that he believes physical discs will stick around for a while yet as a result of the need to continue tapping into developing markets where downloadable titles may not be quite as compatible with limited internet infrastructure.  

In other markets, however, he thinks that streaming games will be a big part of the next generation of consoles.

House also stated that he thinks the PS4 and the PS4 Pro still have a long life in them yet. This doesn't necessarily cancel out the rumors that the PS5 will be with us in the next one to two years; if the reports that the console will be backwards compatible are true then the PS4 generation will remain relevant long into the lifecycle of the PS5. Regardless, given that House was unwilling to comment on the PS5 despite being pushed, these details can only be considered speculation at the moment.

The SemiAcccurate report

SemiAccurate (via ResetEra) is claiming that it's received some leaked information on the yet-to-be-announced console and says that the number of dev kits which have been distributed suggests the console could be released in 2018. 

In addition to this, SemiAccurate also reports that Sony will use this console to push its VR efforts even further, with VR-tech baked in at the Silicon level, and will sport a GPU based on AMD's Navi architecture with a CPU that's potentially a custom item from AMD's Zen line.

Though SemiAcccurate has a decent track record with its reports, having accurately reported Nintendo's Nvidia partnership for the Switch and the PS4 specs back in 2012, we still say take this with a pinch of salt. 

Though the specs sound plausible, a 2018 release date doesn't. Regardless of how many developer kits that Sony has distributed, it feels to soon after the release of the PS4 Pro for the next PlayStation console. Besides that, now that we're four months into the year it doesn't feel like there's sufficient build-up time to the introduction of a new console generation. The PlayStation 5 would have to already be in manufacturing for a 2018 release date to be possible and we're pretty sure we'd have heard something about that by now

The Marcus Sellars claims

Renowned leaker Marcus Sellars has been making some bold claims on Twitter recently (Via GameRant), alleging that PS5 development kits are already in the hands of third-party developers. He also claimed that Nintendo is planning a Direct stream for March 8 (something which has since proven to be accurate). In fact, Sellars has been accurate with his claims a few times: recently he revealed Metroid Prime 4 was being developed by Bandai Namco.

However, Sellars didn't provide any evidence to back up his claims so they really can't be taken as anything more than rumor at the moment. 

Something which may be interesting in relation to this, though, is that recently CD Projekt Red revealed that their upcoming title Cyberpunk 2077 was being developed for current and next generation consoles which came as a great surprise to many. Whether this means they're one of the third-party developers at work with these rumored kits is yet to be seen. 

Even if development kits are in the hands of developers, this doesn't mean the PS5 is coming any time soon. It could still be another couple of years before any kind of reveal.

The patent

Something that does help Sellars case is a recently updated patent for backwards compatibility that's been filed by Sony. Originally filed in 2015, the patent was updated in February to say “Backward compatibility testing of software in a mode that disrupts timing.” This is no guarantee that Sony is actually working on the technology for the PS5 (it could be creating an entirely separate peripheral that makes backwards compatibility possible) but it's not impossible that this could be for a new generation console. 

The PlayStation Plus news

Though there's been no official word from Sony on the development of a PlayStation 5 just yet, a recent announcement in relation to the PlayStation Plus service has ignited some speculation. It's been announced that from March 2019, PS Plus will no longer offer free PS3 or PSVita games and will instead focus on PS4 titles. This has led to some wondering over whether or not Sony is attempting to phase out these older generation titles in preparation for a new generation. This is, of course, pure speculation but it's interesting that Sony would be willing to reduce its game offering to only two games (as it informed Polygon) without any other excuse than wishing to focus on titles for an already highly successful console. Whether Sony is truly making way for the PS5 or whether it's going to offer a higher quality of PS4 game is unclear and it seems we'll have to wait a while to find out what the final plan for PS Plus is.

We’ve got the TVs: can we have proper 4K gaming?

The PS4 Pro offers a tantalising hint of what 4K gaming could be like. But the stark fact remains: it still doesn’t have the grunt to do native 4K consistently. 

Its “checkerboard” technique of taking single pixels and using each to render four pixels in 4K resolution is clever and it can do native 4K output but it often has to sacrifice resolution to keep performance consistent. 

Chris Kingsley, CTO and co-founder of developer Rebellion, dangles an even more ambitious technological carrot in front of a putative PS5: “Obviously new hardware should be able to support 4K TVs and possibly even 8K TVs at a push!” 

Native 4K support, surely, will be a basic requirement of the PlayStation 5. And if Sony cracks that particular problem with alacrity, it could even mean that a PlayStation 5 will arrive sooner than anticipated.

ps5 games

Aside from 4K visuals, if recent showings at GDC 2018 are anything to go by we certainly can expect the next generation to offer incredible visual advancements in terms of character models. 

During GDC, we got a glimpse of what the next generation of games might look like and it's left us extremely excited for the PS5.

Real-time ray tracing was revealed to be the next big thing in rendering while Epic Games gave us a taste of how it might be used to create the most lifelike characters ever. Using its capture technology, the Unreal Engine creator displayed a future with character models so realistic they bring us close to crossing the uncanny valley. Watch a performance from Andy Serkis below to see just how capable these new development technologies are:

“Honestly, between five and ten years from now, I don't think you're going to be able to tell the difference between the real and the virtual world,” Epic CTO Kim Libreri told GamesIndustry.biz, “You'll see hardware that can support these kinds of capabilities pretty shortly, and then, finally, the greatest blockbuster with the most complicated effects, within ten years, you'll be able to do that in real-time.”

When Libreri tells us we'll see hardware that can support this technology "pretty shortly" we can't be sure, but we like to think she's talking about the yet-to-be-announced PS5.

The VR effect

Sony recently became the first console manufacturer to embrace virtual reality, thanks to the PlayStation VR, but if you examine PlayStation VR closely – and observe how it operates on the PS4 Pro – it invites speculation about how a PS5 might take VR to a new level. 

Currently, PlayStation VR operates at lower resolution than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive – but, as it stands, even its current incarnation almost pushes the base PlayStation 4 beyond its limits. Running a PlayStation VR on a PS4 Pro brings improved frame-rates, which are very handy indeed in terms of the overall VR experience, but even the PS4 Pro can’t overcome the resolution constraints set by the PlayStation VR headset.

Sony will want to return to the market with a second, markedly higher-tech iteration of PlayStation VR

So it’s a good bet that, presuming PlayStation VR is successful (and it already appears to be catching on) Sony will want to return to the market with a second, markedly higher-tech iteration: which would provide an obvious selling point for the PlayStation 5. 

And if a PlayStation VR 2 headset could be sold without an external black box, it should be markedly cheaper, further accelerating VR’s march into the mainstream. A recent report from SemiAcccurate which claims that the PS5 will have virtual reality capabilities built-in at silicon level suggests this will indeed be the case. 

Rebellion’s Kingsley makes another good point about second-generation VR. “Anything that reduces the leads has to be a good thing,” he says. 

The umbilical cord which currently attaches VR headset-wearers to their consoles or PCs obviously goes against VR’s entire immersive nature, and we’re already beginning to see, for example, a third-party implementation for the HTC Vive that renders it wireless. It’s a safe bet that the capacity for running a wireless PlayStation VR 2 will be built into the PS5. 

But Kingsley’s PlayStation VR 2 wish-list goes further: “Wide vertical and horizontal field-of-view would be top of my list, and of course, that would require 4K resolution per eye, and high dynamic range would be great too.” 

HDR and wider fields of view should be achievable but sadly, we don’t reckon full 4K VR is likely to be a possibility even for the PS5. As Kingsley points out, that would require 4K rendering per eye, which equates to 8K rendering overall, which we expect to be beyond the PS5’s capabilities. 

That said, perhaps Sony will find some clever technological bodge to get around that before it releases its fifth PlayStation console.

ratchet and clank

What form will the PS5 take?

It has been suggested that future consoles could take radically different forms to current ones, thanks to advances in cloud computing bringing about the ability to stream games, thereby doing away with the components that make consoles so bulky. But we don’t reckon Sony will take a more Nintendo-like approach and put the PS5 in a tiny box. 

One reason for that is that with the PS4, Sony has only just committed to using what are basically the innards of a PC – the first three PlayStation variants used proprietary components which, in the PS3, were so esoteric that the console flopped. Developers, certainly, are massively relieved that the PS4 took the PC route. 

"We always want fast CPUs and GPUs, but lots of fast RAM is also very important – it’s no use having fast processors if they are starved of data.”

Chris Kingsley

“Developers want the ability to make the best games using the minimum amount of effort. We want to focus on being creative and getting things to just work,” Kingsley says. “So the hardware should be based around current console hardware, which is in turn based on PC hardware. We always want fast CPUs and GPUs, but lots of fast RAM is also very important – it’s no use having fast processors if they are starved of data.” 

All the above are achievable, but will the PS5 still have a hard disk? 

Sony Computer Entertainment President and CEO Andrew House spoke at the PS4’s launch about how deciding to put hard disks and 8GB of RAM in the PS4 were both “Billion-dollar decisions”. The fact that Sony has now made external hard drive support possible for the PS4 and Pro is a step in the right direction and this is something that could be carried over the the PS5, which will undoubtedly have to deal with even larger 4K assets. 

It seems certain that PlayStation is very keen to hear what its community thinks. Very recently a group called PlayStation Voice sent out surveys to members of its closed community asking them what their expectations of the PS5 are. One community member posted the email they received and found themselves removed from the group for breaking its non-disclosure agreements. 

According to PSU PlayStation Voice is a community run by third-party consumer insight agency, Join the Dots. Once information has been gathered, it's fed back to clients, the client in this case presumably being Sony PlayStation. 

Admittedly, this doesn't tell us much about PS5 itself, other than that things are likely to be still in the very early stages. While it's unlikely that Sony would use the information gathered from its communities to decide exactly which features will be included in the console, the ideas of fans can certainly spark a good deal of inspiration.

Streaming games

Of course, if games were just streamed to the PS5 that problem would disappear entirely, and Sony already has a game-streaming service in the form of PlayStation Now

So why isn’t this more of a definite feature rather than something on our wishlist? Well, Sony is remaining tight-lipped about PlayStation Now uptake figures, but we suspect they are pretty unimpressive. It has certainly had issues with setting the right subscription charges, given that PlayStation Now effectively gives backwards compatibility – a “luxury” that was previously free for owners of PlayStation 2s and 3s. 

There would be nothing to stop Sony launching a small form-factor cloud-based version of the console for those with mega-fast broadband

But the biggest issue is broadband speeds. Even 4K TV requires a minimum of 25Mbps broadband in order to provide satisfactory streaming, and it’s doubtful whether 4K game streaming – with extra information on top of the visual side – would even work reliably at such speeds. There would be nothing to stop Sony launching a small form-factor cloud-based version of the console for those with mega-fast broadband, perhaps with a mobile phone-style subscription model that has an upfront hardware costs. 

But for the PS5 to sell anything like its predecessors, there would have to be a conventional version with similar innards to the PS4

In his recent autumn statement, chancellor Philip Hammond announced an infrastructure investment aimed at bringing fast broadband and 5G mobile data to the UK. But the earliest that would have an impact would be 2021, and the PS5 will almost certainly arrive before then. Perhaps its first mid-cycle update, though, will be a streaming version which takes advantage of burgeoning 5G networks?

Optical discs or not?

The rise of download games, which continue to eat into the physical disc market, means that pundits have been predicting that consoles will go discless for about a decade now. However, our guess is that the PS5 won’t be the first system to risk venturing down that road, at least not until it catches wind of Microsoft doing the same thing. 

Sony has taken a lot of (justifiable) flak for not putting a 4K Blu-ray drive in the PS4 Pro – making it a less attractive purchase for film and TV buffs than the Xbox One S or X

Surveys continue to show that gamers are still attached to the possibility of buying games on physical discs – not least because they can then sell them (a practice that the games industry hates), and due to their persistent hard disk space issues, although it’s only the current generation of consoles which has insisted on installing entire contents of Blu-ray discs onto hard disks. 

If Sony were to axe the Blu-ray drive from the PS5, gamers would expect several terabytes of storage in compensation. 

Kingsley gives a developer’s view on the topic: “I think the days of delivering films and games via disc are on the decline, as most people are going digital; however, some people like physical discs, so who knows  whether that decline will level out and remain present but at a lower level than now?”

Download figures have been on the rise over the last year but EA CFO Blake Jorgensen has said that he thinks consoles and disc drives will continue to stick around.

“Consoles and disc drives probably stay around for a long period of time [...] I think it's the consumer deciding what's the easiest way for them to buy a game.

“And it may mean they no longer have a store down the street from them so they decide to buy it [digitally] maybe it's easier for them to do.”

So when can we expect the PS5?

Given that the PlayStation 4 was launched in 2013 and Sony’s previous consoles arrived in six-year intervals, it would be easy to project that it will launch the PlayStation 5 in 2019 at the earliest. The sort of technology available then should easily allow full native 4K games without saddling the PS5 with a massive price-tag and, by 2019, 4K TVs will be the norm, rather than the exception, in the average household.

2020 might be the year in which Sony unleashes the PS5 on the world, as the first native 4K console with wireless VR ... as long as Microsoft doesn’t get there first

So it would be a surprise if Sony doesn’t want to capitalise on that at the earliest possible juncture. However, Kingsley points at the PS4 Pro, and reckons that could have an effect on the length of the current console cycle: “It’s a difficult one to judge, but overall I think it’s fair to say that the overall cycle will lengthen slightly.” 

Especially if the PS4 Pro wildly outsells the base PS4, which admittedly isn’t something we anticipate happening once it has reached a critical mass of households with 4K TVs. 

So perhaps 2020 might be the year in which Sony unleashes the PS5 on the world, as the first native 4K console with wireless VR ... as long as Microsoft doesn’t get there first.

What games can we expect to see on PS5?

If the backwards compatibility patent mentioned above is true, we can expect to see our whole PS4 library available to play on the PS5. Or perhaps we'll see another round of remasters as we did when moving from the PS3 to the PS4. However, we imagine there will be some games being developed specifically for this new console generation and the power it's likely to offer.

Already we've seen CD Projekt Red mention that it's developing for this generation as well as the next and alongside the rumors that there are already developers kits out in the open, we think there's a good chance that Cyberpunk 2077 will be one of the early PS5 titles. 


Fri, 11 May 2018 09:45:00 +0000
PS5: what's the latest PlayStation 5 news and when will Sony release it?
All our hopes, desires and dreams for the PS5 when it comes.

The Best Blu-ray Player Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best Blu-ray Players you can buy in 2018.

Streaming services are becoming more and more popular, which is leading some to believe that the days of movies being available on disc are well-and-truly numbered. But the truth is you'll still get a much better image, better quality and a more cinematic experience from a 4K Blu-ray than you will from an Amazon Prime Video or Netflix stream. 

If we've convinced you to stop streaming (at least for now) then you'll want to shop around for the best Blu-ray player for you. 

The first hurdle to overcome when you're in the market for a Blu-ray player is whether to buy yourself a 4K deck or opt for a 1080p one instead. There are both 1080p and 4K Blu-ray discs and, if you have a 4K TV, you'll probably want to try out the latter to get your money's worth. 

To confuse matters, most of today's best 1080p players will also upscale standard Blu-rays to 4K. And if you have a Full HD TV, and no plans to upgrade, all those extra pixels are wasted anyway. So there's a lot to consider. 

We've collected together a mixture of 1080p and 4K Blu-ray decks. But if you've got your heart set on the 4K type, read our dedicated 4K Blu-ray player round-up instead.

Other key features to look for in a Blu-ray player include smart features like Netflix and Amazon Video streaming, WiFi, 4K upscaling, 3D support and even 2D-to-3D conversion. As you'd expect, the cheaper the deck is, the fewer of these cool extras you're likely to get.

If you still need help narrowing down which deck to choose, browse our pick of the best Blu-ray players to help you make your buying decision easier: 

Panasonic DMP-BDT360 review

The Panasonic DMP-BDT360 is a classic mid-range option that will suit those still clinging onto 3D, even though most have lost interest at this point. It even offers 2D-3D conversion – which works surprisingly well. 

This is a 1080p deck, but has 4K upscaling, which gets you close to the image quality of a true 4K image quality when playing Full HD discs. 

There's an excellent treatment of digital files, too. You just plug a USB drive into the front socket. The poor remote and a fairly basic smart TV system are the downsides, but overall this deck is good value.

If you can't find this exact model on sale, consider the Panasonic DMP-BDT380, which offers similar features.

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-BDT360

Best Blu-ray Player

The Sony BDP-S6700 is one of the smaller Blu-ray players, which is handy if you don't want the area around your TV cluttered-up with big black boxes. Want the exact dimensions? It's 255x39x192mm. 

This is another 1080p disc player, but its 4K upscaling is impressive. You could fool friends into thinking it's real 4K footage with a well-mastered disc. 

The Sony BDP-S6700 also has clever noise reduction modes that can clean up lower-quality videos from, say, YouTube to make them look better on a big TV. 

Built-in Wi-Fi and the smart TV interface let you stream directly from YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Video and catch-up services. You can also connect to wireless speakers and headphones using Bluetooth.

Bad bits? Like other low-cost decks the Sony BDP-S6700's build is basic. But it does look good. 

Read the full review: Sony BDP-S6700

Best Blu-ray Player

The Sony UHP-H1 is one of the few remaining high-end non-4K Blu-ray players. It has a heft and solidity you won't find in the cheaper 1080p decks. 

Of course, as price of 4K players lowers month after month, it is becoming a tougher sell. But you'll find it sold online for well under its initial RRP.

Its image quality is outstanding, and there's 4K upscaling for those who have made the 4K TV upgrade. Still, it makes most sense for those with a beloved Full HD TV they have no intention of ditching. 

Why pay for a premium 1080p deck in 2018? The Sony UHP-H1 is also a great audio player, with support for Hi-Res audio files over USB, SACDs and even DVD-A. Those are audio DVDs: yep, they exist. 

Read the full review: Sony UHP-H1

And now some 4K decks...

Nowadays you can buy a 4K Blu-ray deck for just a little more money than an entry-level 1080p one. 

The Panasonic DMP-UB300's picture quality when playing 4K Blu-rays is still first-class. It uses the same Precision Chroma processor as Panasonic’s more expensive decks, so that’s no surprise. 

There are a few reasons the Panasonic DMP-UB300 is so downright affordable, though. Its build is basic. There is not even a display, just a red operation LED. 

We can handle that. The one off-putting part of the Panasonic DMP-UB300 is that it does not have Wi-Fi. It does have a Smart TV interface but you'll have to plug it into a router or access point to get online. 

Do so and you can stream Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube. However, the Panasonic DMP-UB300 suits those who use another method of video streaming best. 

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-UB300

The Samsung UBD-M9500 4K Blu-ray player now cost just half it's original price. It's now quite a deal. 

You'll notice its curved front first. Sure, curved TVs are now a little passe, but it's a refreshing change from the standard black rectangle.

One of the UBD-M9500's 'special moves' is downscaling of HDR discs and content to get you some of the benefit of HDR on a non-HDR TV. Samsung’s smart platform also gets you access to over 300 apps, including all our usual streamer favorites. 

It does miss out on a few features, though. There’s no Dolby Vision and no 3D, but most of us have lost interest in 3D anyway. The Samsung UBD-M9500 isn’t the perfect deck for music obsessives as it lacks SACD and DVD-A support. However, unless you have a high-end Dolby Vision TV, we’d bet this model has everything 95 per cent of you are after. 

Read the full review: Samsung UBD-M9500

Oppo UDP-203 makes audio visual fit for real enthusiasts. As such, it is not cheap.

However, it is far more impressive than your standard 4K Blu-ray player. It has a metal chassis, and its connections are far more comprehensive than most. 

There are two HDMI outputs (one for audio), and one pass-through input, support for home automation, high-end speaker outputs. You get support for networked audio and SACDs too.

The Oppo UDP-203 has a specific, fairly narrow audience in mind, though. There are no streaming apps like Netflix or YouTube built-in, which Oppo says is to keep the boot-up as fast as possible. 

Read the full review: Oppo UDP-203

The DMP-UB700 is Panasonic's mid-price 4K Blu-ray player. It feels at home in a high-end AV setup, and can handle things like 24-bit FLAC and DSD audio files. 

These are, of course, just side dishes to the main course of excellent 4K Blu-ray playback. Its images look stunning. 

Unlike the Oppo player, the Panasonic DMP-UB700 is also ready to stream from the most popular services, inluding Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video.  

It doesn't have the geek's favourite SACD and DVD-A format support, but many of you will have left these in the past anyway. The other negative to note is that its build isn't quite at the level of the Panasonic DMP-UB900, lacking proper vibration-isolating feet. 

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-UB700

The Pansaonic DMP-UB900 will restore you faith in physical media. In full 4K HDR guise it offers a level of performance that will have new 4K TV owners gasping. Ultra-HD Blu-ray brings the experience of 4K digital cinema to the home, and rewards you with brilliant colour fidelity, deep contrast and almost three-dimensional clarity.

Factor in solid file playback support, plus 4K iterations of Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, and you have a machine that'll make your new 4K HDR TV look sensational. For a better value, however, take a look at the DMP-UB700.

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-UB900


Thu, 10 May 2018 12:30:47 +0000
The best Blu-ray players 2018
The best Blu-rays players don't just play discs, they'll also stream video and upscale to 4K.

Most of the TVs being launched this year have been 4K. Some are smart, others aren't. But, the image quality is amazing nonetheless.

These TVs are yet to take over the market, but with more and more brands making cheaper 4K TVs, it is only a matter of time. The high-end TVs from Sony, Samsung and LG are still out of reach for most people, but one could expect these to become cheaper in the near future.

This is especially true since Xiaomi launched their budget friendly 4K televisions this year, that undercut most of the other TVs in the market, even after the price hike.

It can be a little hard to choose between all the different choices in the market, especially since they all try and diversify in their own way. 

This is the list of the best 4K TVs in the market that tells you exactly why they're worth the price tag.

Sony Bravia A1E OLED

Unveiled at CES last year, Sony's Bravia A1 series is its first foray into the OLED market,

The television was launched in India in July 2017 and has reigned supreme, in terms of performance, since then. 

Sony uses Acoustic Surface technology to deliver excellent audio despite the TV's thin-form factor. That, combined with the absolute best picture quality you can get today, makes this the best television to buy in the market. If you can afford it that is. 

Read the full review: Sony A1E OLED 

LG's televisions used to be the best till Sony came along with its OLED TVs. Yet, the LG OLED C7 is a TV that many will like. It's thin, good looking and runs on the company's WebOS platform. 

While LG's TVs may not equal Sony's in picture quality, that's very tough to determine unless you're comparing side by side. At the same price range, we wouldn't be surprised if you're conflicted between these two.

Read the full review: LG OLED C7

Xiaomi Mi TV 4A

Having won the Red Dot award, it's one of the slimmest TVs on the market. Even at just 4.9mm, it doesn't compromise on its ports and durability. It has 3 HDMI and USB ports as well as an ethernet port in case your Wi-Fi fails you. 

It may not dazzle most people in the myriad of options available in the market right but it's the cream of what's available under Rs 40,000.

Read the full review: Xiaomi Mi TV 4

Samsung Q8C QLED TV

The Samsung Q8C runs on the company's QLED technology and its unique selling point is the punchy colours and high contrast. Much like the two TVs mentioned above, this one also supports HDR playback, though it lacks Dolby Vision support right now.

The QLED Q8C is also curved and combined with Samsung's no-gap wall mount, making it an excellent addition to any media center. It's suited to anyone looking for a high-end TV that adds to your living room's aesthetics.

Read the full review: Samsung Q8C QLED

Sony Z9D

With 500 dimming zones, the Sony Z9D is without a doubt the most value-for-money television among the high-end offerings. It supports HDR playback and provides picture quality that could rival the best OLED televisions on the market today, including Sony's own Bravia A1.

The Z9D also provides decent audio quality, and is loud enough for small to medium sized rooms too.

Read the full review: Sony Z9D

Samsung Frame TV

The Samsung Frame is perhaps the most beautiful television in the market right now. It's meant to look like a piece of art, and for the most part it does that job admirably. 

The television comes with a built in art collection and that exemplifies itself to look like a picture frame. Samsung has compromised picture quality, but that's only compared to the absolute high end TVs out there. 

The Frame is cheaper in comparison to those. Buy it to believe it!

Read the full view: Samsung Frame


Tue, 08 May 2018 23:11:25 +0000
The best 4K TVs of 2018 in India
TVs with 4K resolution are slowly catching up in India. And these are the best that money can buy!

In a relatively light hardware year at Google I/O, the Mountain View-based company saved one announcement for its most hardcore of Android TV developers - a new device called the ADT-2 that will serve as a testbed for Android TV P, its upcoming version of Android TV. 

The device doesn’t look like much with it’s almost original Chromecast-like exterior, but the latest additions to Android TV should allow even the most low-spec’d devices to enjoy solid playback and quick navigation. 

That said, if it's the same device we saw in a report last month in an FCC Filing, the ADT-2 uses an Amilogic S905X processor with 2GB of RAM under the hood, and 8GB of eMMC storage for downloading apps and games.

The streaming dongle was introduced by the Director of Android TV, Sascha Prueter during the developer focused “What’s new on Android TV” breakout session, and while the vast majority of the talk focused on how code should be implemented in Android TV P, it did give a fair overview of some of the new features coming to Android TV in the near future.

Besides the performance enhancements, Google will include an autofill feature similar to what you’d find on Google’s search engine, plus suggested settings which uses previous settings from Android TV devices to setup your new Android TV, and suggested apps which recommends apps based on apps that you’ve used previously.

There’s also a new interface, which you can see pictured in the photo above. 

ADT-2, the future of Android TV 

While its name may sound strange, the ADT-2 is a sequel to the ADT-1 that Google unveiled during its 2014 keynote when it announced Android TV. 

Like the original ADT-1, the ADT-2 will be made exclusively to developers who can apply for a test unit of their own via a Google Form located at: g.co/io/adt2-signup

Disappointingly, Google was rumored to unveil a new consumer-facing Chromecast device alongside a game-streaming service codenamed 'Yeti' - even going as far as to mention “a new device” in the talk’s description - but it seems, for now, the best we’re going to get is the ADT-2. 

The silver lining? Google has given a lot of thought to the next generation of Android TV devices and the ADT-2 is the ground-floor foundation. 


Thu, 03 May 2018 09:00:35 +0000
The next Android TV device is here, but it's only for developers
We had our hopes up for a new Chromecast but the developer-only ADT-2 is the closest we’re going get.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi launched the Mi Music and Mi Video streaming services in India at a Mi Pop event, held in Mumbai. These two services have been available for some time for Beta users and now, the company has launched them for regular users too.

The Mi Music app comes with Hungama Music integration and users can listen to over 10 million songs across 13 Indian and international languages for free. Similar to Gaana and Saavn, you will have to pay a premium if you wish to download the songs for offline listening.

The Hungama Music premium subscription usually costs Rs. 899 per annum, however, as an introductory offer, the subscription cost has been reduced to Rs. 499 per annum for the next three months.

The Mi Music app comes with dynamic lyrics, allowing you to karaoke along with the track and it also allows you to play the song from any point. The company has also announced that it plans to add music videos, personalized recommendations, themes and increase the library of the Mi Music app.

For the Mi Video app, Xiaomi has partnered with multiple streaming services to provide content. The services include AltBalaji, Flickstree Hungama Play, SonyLiv, Sun NXT, TVF, Voot and Zee5. 

Xiaomi has claimed that the Mi Video app currently has a library worth over 5,00,000 hours, of which 80 percent is free to watch.

The Mi Video app supports over 12 video formats and comes with private folders, multilingual subtitles and multiple audio tracks to choose from. The company has said that in the future, it will add picture-in-picture mode, personalised recommendations, genre filter, and more.



Xiaomi Mi Music, Mi Video streaming services launched in India
Xiaomi at its Mi Pop event in Mumbai announced the launch of the Mi Music and Mi Video streaming services in India.
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