Black Friday reminds me of a moment a few months ago when I told a good friend that him constantly watching badly ripped torrents on his LG OLED TV was like buying a Ferrari to drive it around in fields. I knew I wasn’t going to feel great about it from the minute it left my mouth but I couldn’t help it. I have a problem. I’m a 4K snob.
It’s not really my fault. It’s the job. Working at What Hi-Fi? does that to a person. We’re treated to a world of fine dining when it comes to hi-fi and AV. When we test, we make sure that the playback equipment gets only the very best morsels to sample so that we know we’re served with the top performance that each on-test item can muster. For TVs and projectors, that means a strict diet of 4K HDR content as played by our reference 4K Blu-ray player. Dodgy downloads do not feature.
High-bitrate video leaves room for more information for your TV to digest in any given frame. That means a broader range of colours with thousands more shades than with lower-quality material. You'll get more sophisticated blending of those hues with a picture so carefully shaded and natural looking that you'll feel like you could almost step into it.
Black Friday movie deals
- Get 3 for £30 on Marvel 4K Blu-rays at Zavvi
- Six mind-bending 4K HDR Christopher Nolan thrillers on iTunes for £23
- Take a look at the best of Amazon's 4K Blu-rays here
- Don't miss the Black Friday voucher codes at HMV
Instead, I found myself biting my tongue at said friend's while watching a shoddy rip of Stephen Chow's Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons with colour banding all the way from here to China.
I can barely make out the rocks and sand in the desert when we reach the big fight at the end between the demon hunters and the Monkey King. There's just a horrible shifting blend of brown. Where are my details? Where is the definition? Everything is just so soft and blurry but somehow I'm just about holding it together. I'm biting the back of my hand starring at the others. The film is reflected in their faces. Can't they see it too? Surely they can hear it, though?
It's more than just picture in those movie streams, whether from a disc or online. They carry the audio too and there's barely room for the sound of two wasps fighting in a tin can in this USB playback horror. There's almost no impact as the Almighty Foot tries to stomp the Monkey King into the ground. There's no whoosh and swoop of the magical swords as they whistle past the combatants' heads and, as for the lifeless dialogue, well, that was the final straw.
I felt bad the second I finished my outburst. It's not my fault, and it's not my friend's either. I've been AV spoiled. I'm used to sitting on the sofas of our test room bathing my eyes in modern day home cinema classics like Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and any one of the more recent MCU films shot in 4K resolution and colour-graded to kill.
Spider-Man 9 Movie Collection in 4K film £45 on iTunes
Pick up all, yes, all the Spider-Man films in 4K and Dolby Atmos on iTunes. That's £5 per film for the Maguire, Garfield and Holland movies plus Venom and Into the Spiderverse too. The dream gift for any web-slinger fan.
Of course, I don’t expect everyone to watch only from discs. They're expensive and require a fair bit of planning in advance but that doesn't mean you no need to go dumpster diving either. High-bitrate access to a good video streaming service costs less than the price of a single 4K disc per month and it’s the least that your 4K HDR TV deserves. Top notch streams from the likes of Disney+ are perfectly respectable.
Better, though is to buy a few 4K HDR titles from Apple who offer the best PAYG film quality right now and the biggest library and Black Friday is the time to do it.
You can pick up Parasite or Robocop for £3.99; Knives Out, The Martian, Sicario and JJ Abrams’ Star Trek too. Spend just one pound more and you’ll find Le Mans 66, 1917, Inception and many, many more.
Star Trek and Star Trek Beyond in 4K £9.98 on iTunes
Grab both of the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot films in 4K and with Dolby Atmos for less than a fiver each. Two great films, one superb deal.
The list goes on. And don’t get me started on the bundles. Six 4K Christopher Nolan films for £22.99, nine Spider-man movies for £45, or 24 James Bond films for £69.99. That’s just £2.92 per 007 classic! Or how about the entire three seasons of Deadwood at half-price? Ok, it’s only in HD but that’s an Award-winning show right there. And these are to own, people! To own! Forever!
It's all out there and in excellent quality. So, please. For me and for your TV, use Black Friday to beef up your film collection. You deserve it too, and it means that you become a 4K film snob too, then at least I'll be in good company.
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