2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Movies

These days, if you don’t own a Blu-ray player, you’re missing out, especially with a variety of classic movies being offered in high definition for the first time ever. But while we could easily fill several pages with suggestions of great films and cool box sets that deserve a spot on any holiday wish list, we’ve picked some of our favorites released over the past 12 months. If you can’t find anything worth buying here, then chances are that the person you’re shopping for doesn’t like movies.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Back to the Future: 30th Anniversary Trilogy

By this point, you may well be weary of hearing about “Back to the Future,” given how much press the time-travel trilogy received when the first movie hit the big 3-0 earlier this year, but at some point you’ll find yourself wanting to revisit the fun of these three films, and that’s when you’ll want to have a copy of this five-disc set in your collection. In addition to a disc for each of the films, each of which has deleted scenes, “Tales from the Future” documentary segments, audio commentaries and various other bonus material, there’s also a separate bonus disc that includes a variety of additional mini-docs, plus a 2015 message from Doc Brown, two new commercials (one for “Jaws 19,” the other for a Hoverboard), and two episodes of “Back to the Future: The Animated Series.”

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki is one the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animation, boasting a unique style that shines through in every one of his fantastical stories. Though Miyazaki’s films are currently available as individual Blu-rays, this 12-disc box set – which is available exclusively through Amazon – is the first time that they’ve been offered in a single collection. All 11 movies are included, from 1979’s “Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro” to 2013’s Oscar-nominated “The Wind Rises.” In addition, there are several hours of bonus material that are perfect for the Miyazaki admirer, including his 1972 TV pilot for Tetsuya Chiba’s “Yuki no Taiyo,” three episodes of the 1972 anime series “Akado Suzunosuke,” the 90-minute press conference announcing his retirement, and a 37-page collector’s book featuring the essay, “The Great Dichotomy: Looking at the Works of Hayao Miyazaki.” It’s probably not worth the double dip if you already own all of his movies on Blu-ray (especially since the extras from those releases have strangely been removed here), but this box set is a must-have for fans of animation, as well as kids who are beginning to outgrow their Disney and Pixar collections.

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2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Television

Television fans must love the holidays, because it’s the one time of year when studios unleash a host of massive box sets collecting their favorite dramas and comedies. This year is no different, with several critically acclaimed shows getting the complete series treatment. But while we like to devour an entire TV show just as quickly as the next person, sometimes a little self-discipline is required, which is why we’ve also included some less time-consuming (and more affordable) suggestions as well.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Justified: The Complete Series

Justified” is one of those shows that never really got the credit (or the audience) it deserved, because it’s a sharply written and well-acted neo-Western that managed to pull off what most series have failed to do: stick the landing. Though it started out as a more formulaic, crime of the week-type drama, “Justified” evolved into something much richer over the years by focusing on the relationship between U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens and smooth-talking outlaw Boyd Crowder, two men who grew up in the same poor, coal-mining town in Kentucky, but ended up on different sides of the law. Both Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins deliver strong, well-rounded performances in their respective roles, but while it would be difficult to imagine the show without either of them, the supporting cast is just as important, especially Nick Searcy as Givens’ crusty boss, Jacob Pitts and Erica Tazel as fellow Marshalls, and Joelle Carter as Boyd’s fiancée/partner in crime. The rotating cast of guest stars is also impressive, adding to the series’ rich tapestry of down-and-dirty hillbillies, criminals and lawmen to create a lived-in world that feels more genuine than just about anything else on television. The fact that “Justified” was able to maintain its high quality throughout all six seasons is pretty extraordinary, but it’s also one of the few shows to produce a satisfying series finale, and that definitely earns it a spot among the TV drama elite.

Californication: The Complete Series

With Hank Moody, David Duchovny created a character that ranks as one of the greatest hedonists in television history. “Californication” was loaded with great characters and it thrived on introducing countless examples of the bizarre and interesting people you’ll find in L.A., but everything revolved around Hank and all of his crazy exploits. He could be arrogant and often self-destructive, but watching his endless exploits with the flaky but often beautiful women of La La Land made you want to hop on a plane and rent an apartment in Venice Beach. The best part was that Hank always found a way to enjoy the ride, even as things got a little rough. Through it all he was still crazy in love with his ex, Karen, played by the lovely Natascha McElhone, and Evan Handler was excellent as Charlie Runkle, his dopey but ever-loyal agent and sidekick who had his own ups and down with his hilarious and nutty wife Marcy. Now you can enjoy all 84 episodes on 14 discs in this new box set. Give it to someone who needs to learn how to enjoy life again, or at least can use a vehicle to live vicariously through someone else’s crazy adventures.

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Product Review: NJOY E-Cigarette

NJOY, the largest independent e-cigarette and vaping company in the US, has unveiled its newest product, the Daily, a superior e-cigarette scientifically developed to deliver quick-and-strong nicotine satisfaction at levels close to an actual cigarette.

The Daily has been crafted for adult smokers who are familiar with e-cigs but have been largely unsatisfied by the products they’ve tried in the past. The Daily represents NJOY’s mission to make the traditional combustion cigarette obsolete. After testing it out ourselves, we have to give props to NJOY on accomplishing exactly what they set out to do. The Daily exceeded all of our expectations and offers a restored faith in those who have given up on e-cigs.

With its lightweight design and soft tip, the Daily feels like an actual cigarette and should provide a full pack’s worth of smoking from a single, ready-to-use disposable unit. It is easy to transport and even easier to use, particularly in situations where you just want a quick drag or two. The Daily produces a thick vapor and offers a strong yet smooth throat hit that is reminiscent to that of a traditional cigarette.

From start to finish, we never experienced a weak drag and were left wanting more. And with its competitive price at only $5.99 (suggested retail price), it really will change the game for e-cigs. There is finally an e-cig that is able to deliver an authentic “smoking” experience thanks to NJOY.

Not to be outdone, another new product NJOY has introduced is their Convenience Vaping System, which consists of a Pre-filled Tank and Battery System. Perfect for day-to-day vaping, it’s so easy to use – we literally took the tank and battery out of their packages, screwed them together and were ready to go.

The Pre-Filled Tank holds 3mL, so you can vape all day, and comes in five unique flavors. The flavors are an amazing standout from other vape products we’ve tried before and is there a lot of vapor and flavor that comes out of that small tank! The product is a winner for sure! Also worth noting, both the tank and battery feature a 510 thread, so they can work with other devices as well.

For more information on the NJOY Daily and Convenience Vaping System, check out www.njoy.com.

  

2015 Back to School Gift Guide

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The new school year will be starting soon (and it likely already has for some people), which means that it’s time to get those students in your life the tools they’ll need in order to survive the next nine months. No, we’re not talking about boring stuff like pencils and notebooks, but rather the cool gadgets and gear that help make campus life a little more enjoyable. Here are some great gift ideas that just about any student can use.

SOL REPUBLIC Shadow Wireless Headphones

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One of the hottest trends on the headphones market these days is those futuristic looking Bluetooth headsets that people wear around their necks. But while they definitely take a little getting used to compared to more traditional headphones, it’s easy to see what makes them so appealing to some consumers. SOL REPUBLIC recently released its own version of a wireless, around-the-neck headset with the Shadow, and not only is it incredibly lightweight and flexible, but it rests so comfortably on your neck that you sometimes forget it’s even there. In addition to boasting CD-quality audio that’s good enough for the average user, the Shadow features a built-in microphone and three-button remote, as well as a fairly decent battery with up to 8 hours of playback and a week of standby time. It can also control two devices (like your phone and laptop) at the same time, and is both water and sweat resistant, so you can wear it just about everywhere you go without worrying about damage. Although it would have been nice if the headset included retractable earbuds like some of its competitors, it’s not a deal breaker, especially when there’s so much other stuff to love about the Shadow.

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2015 Father’s Day Gift Guide: Booze

Walk into any liquor store and you’ll see hundreds of options. You can zero in on your dad’s favorite drink when picking a gift, or you can get creative and choose something he wouldn’t buy for himself. And for more great suggestions, be sure to check out the other categories in our Father’s Day gift guide.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

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The good folks at Crown Royal have introduced the brand’s first-ever blended rye whisky, so this is something delicious and unique that you can pick up for dad. As you would expect from Crown Royal, this whisky is very smooth. It’s crafted from 90% rye and tastes great either neat, on the rocks, or in traditional rye cocktails like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned. It also comes in that beautiful Crown Royal bottle that makes any bar look classy.

Patrón XO Cafe Incendio

This is an awesome gift for anyone who appreciates premium tequila or enjoys flavored liqueurs. This delicious new offering from Patrón is a spicy and sweet liqueur that is perfect as a sipping drink to savor and enjoy, or as a shot to get the party going. Patrón XO Cafe Incendio starts with Patrón Silver tequila and draws its flavor from the spicy Mexican arbol chile along with the sweet richness of Criollo chocolate. We recommend drinking it straight after chilling the bottle in the refrigerator. You can also use it for cocktails, and as a kicker, to spice up your coffee or hot cocoa in the winter months. You can keep a bottle in your fridge year-round as a permanent addition to your home bar.

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