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September 6, 2008

Unbox reborn as Amazon Video on Demand

Amazon Video on Demand logo Amazon has been testing a video on demand service since July and this week it became generally available as Amazon Video on Demand and absorbed the old Unbox video download service as well.

The finished Video On Demand service is now compatible with a wealth of device types: Windows PC’s, Macs, suitable TiVo models, Windows Media Center extender boxes (like the Xbox 360), the Sony Bravia Internet Video Link TVs used in the beta, and many portable media players. Amazon is offering a vast catalog of 40,000 movies and TV shows. Some are free, but for most of them the prices are:

All rentals expire 24 hrs after purchase and all offer a 2 minute preview.

If you aren’t interested in rental and streaming, you can still purchase and download movies as before using the Unbox application and they will always be available in your personal video library. Rentals will be there too (at least for 24 hours) in case you get interrupted while watching or want to watch on a different system than where you order.

Initial reviews indicate the Amazon Video on Demand service is quite usable albeit with some video glitches reported, so you might care to try some of the free videos before plunking down some cash. A bigger question if you are a TV fan is whether or not you might prefer the Hulu service which is free, but has commercials. (Hulu does offer some movies as well.)

Finally, my perpetual rant is that Internet video won’t take off until it is dead simple for the average consumer to use and use in the room where they have their TV set. Amazon Video on Demand goes quite a way towards solving the simplicity problem. As for getting that video into the room where the TV resides, Amazon does its best with the available technical options and is way ahead of most alternatives with the enhanced TiVo lashup which now supports streaming rentals.

Posted at 6:10 pm. Filed under Amazon, Brands, Companies, Hulu, Internet, Streaming video, Unbox, Video Downloads, Video on Demand

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July 10, 2007

TiVo users can now order Amazon Unbox videos direct

Back in February when and TiVo announced that they were hooking up the TiVo DVR with Amazon’s Unbox Internet video store, one problem I noted was that “it’s not perfect because you can’t order the downloads from the TiVo.” Instead you had to order through your PC for delivery to your TiVo. However, starting today, that gap has been bridged:


Posted at 10:45 am. Filed under Amazon, Brands, Companies, Digital Video Recorders, Internet, TiVo, Unbox, Video Downloads

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February 14, 2007

Amazon Unbox hooks up with TiVo for video downloads

I’ve always been hopeful about Internet video downloads even though the available services always seem to leave quite a bit to be desired. Gizmodo’s Charlie White summarizes the problems nicely in Top 10 Reasons Why Movie Downloads Suck, but I’d like to call out a couple of them:

3. No computer in the TV room: Most people don’t have a computer near the TV, and getting a downloaded movie from one to the other is awkward at best.

10. Too complicated: Finally, all of that knowledge and computer know-how needed for downloading movies is simply nonexistent in the skill sets of the average movie viewer. They’re just not willing to go through the learning curve to get the digital data from the PC to the TV screen when they can effortlessly pop in a DVD.

These aren’t problems for a “power user,” but they surely are impediments for the casual consumer. That’s why I was interested to see the alliance announced last week between Amazon’s Unbox movie download service and TiVo, the digital video recorder makers, to provide Unbox downloads automatically and directly to the TiVo DVR. The details of the announcement are here, but the FAQ may be more illuminating.

In a nutshell, if you are the owner of a broadband connected TiVo Series2 or Series3 DVR, you can register the unit with Amazon from your PC and whenever you purchase any video at Amazon Unbox (again from your PC) you can specify that it be delivered to your TiVo. If you delete it from the TiVo, it can be downloaded again free from your Amazon Media Library.

It’s not perfect because you can’t order the downloads from the TiVo, but it neatly gets around the two problems listed above. Of course, there are still more of the “10 Reasons” to overcome, but at least it’s a start. Amazon’s Unbox had a very shaky launch, but presuming that they have ironed out the bugs, the only downside that I see is that broadband connected TiVo Series2 and Series3 boxes aren’t particularly common – TiVo estimates that there only are 1.5 million potential candidates. However, if you happen to own one it would be worthwhile to head over to Unbox and at least kick the tires when this rolls out later this year.

Update – March 7, 2007: The Amazon Unbox TiVo service is now live.

Posted at 10:49 am. Filed under Amazon, Brands, Companies, Digital Video Recorders, Internet, TiVo, Unbox, Video Downloads

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