Amazon Instant Video Review
Amazon Instant Video is a store with over 100,000 movies and TV shows available to purchase digitally, which gives you the rights to stream your purchases and download them to two locations. When you purchase a movie, it is stored in your online video library, from which you can stream it from within a browser or from Kindle Fire, a compatible TV, set-top streaming player, or other compatible device. It is a lot like an Amazon version of iTunes where the emphasis is on watching the content you buy from online rather than downloading it and watching it, though if you pay to subscribe to Amazon Prime through which you gain free access to over 10,000 titles, it becomes more like Netflix with the option to purchase additional content. As with iTunes, you are also able to rent movies in addition to purchasing them.
What We Liked
- Cloud Video Library—all your purchases are stored in the cloud so that you can stream them any time you have a browser with an internet connection so your content is not limited to your devices; you are also allowed to download the purchase to two devices
- New releases—Amazon has great access to the newest movies, though it may not always be quite as fast as iTunes
- TV Pass—if you subscribe to the current season of a show you will get all the episodes from that season as they are released (usually a day after airing on TV) for a discounted price; for past seasons you can also purchase the entire season for a discounted price
- Deals—Amazon Instant Video has a deals section where it offers cheap rentals and purchases, sometimes even popular movies for free (at the time of this writing Salt and The King’s Speech were both being sold for free)
- Movie Rentals—Amazon Instant Video lets you rent a digital movie, which after you download you have 30 days to watch by streaming or downloading the movie, and 24 or 48 hours of viewing availability once you start watching it
What We Didn’t Like
- Lack of HD options—movies not available to purchase in HD, though if you are streaming a movie on your TV with a compatible device it can be possible to view it in HD
- Lack of Portability—the emphasis on streaming content means you have to remember to download what you want to watch before going away from an internet connection, and you can’t access it from your smart phone or iPad, so unless you own a Kindle Fire it can be hard to watch on the go
- TV shows: you watch it, you own it—when you purchase the TV Pass for a TV show you get the new episodes as they come out, but you are paying to own those episodes when a cheaper TV pass that lets you just watch each episode once might suit your needs better for most shows
- No commentary—if you love listening to the commentary tracks then stick with DVDs
Amazon Instant Video will work on your PC, Mac, Kindle Fire, PS3, Xbox, iPad, and Wii U or on your TV if you have a compatible TV, set-top streaming box, blu-ray player, or DVR.
Who is this recommended for?
If you own a Kindle Fire or already have an Amazon Prime subscription, then you should definitely be taking advantage of all that Amazon Instant Video has to offer you. Amazon only launched the service in 2011, and perhaps because of this they are offering some great deals including free high-quality movies, so it really should be for everybody. It’s also great for those who watch TV shows and movies primarily on the TV and computer. If you’ve got an Amazon credit card where you get extra rewards for Amazon purchases, this is a great way to earn some points. For those who already purchase a lot on Amazon, an Amazon Prime membership offers you free two-day shipping and access to thousands of movies and TV shows for less than the annual cost of a Netflix subscription, so why not try it out with a free trial?
- TV shows are $1.99 in standard definition (SD), $2.99 in HD (there is often some extra content available to download for free)
- The cost of a full season or TV Pass varies as the number of episodes varies from show to show, but it will always be cheaper than purchasing each episode individually
- Movies: there is a good deal of variance, but new releases are typically $14.99 in SD (there is even more variance for older films, but Amazon offers lots of great deals including some movies for free)
- Rentals: new releases are $3.99 and that includes in HD if you have a compatible device (older movies can be rented for as low as $1.99)
- Amazon Prime membership is $79 a year
- For streaming standard definition content, Amazon recommends an Internet connection of at least 450 Kbps
- For streaming HD content, Amazon recommends an Internet connection of at least 3.5 Mbps