Friday, September 08, 2006

Amazon Unbox Review

Amazon Unbox Video Downloads is a new product category released by Amazon yesterday centered around providing downloadable media such as movies and television shows. At first I thought this idea was not terribly compelling. Why would I want to get a movie that I don't have a physical copy of? Plus there are so many limitations with the devices I can play it on. So first the basics:

Hardware Needs:
  • Broadband
  • Windows XP computer (Mediacenter edition fine too)
  • Portable device that supports Windows Plays for Sure technology
  • Free Hard Disk space > 10 gig

  • Movies are the same price as their physical versions
  • TV shows are $1.99 an episode (reduced for full seasons)
  • Anime TV shows are $3.99

My experience
Last night I decided that I would give this service a try. I first started the download and install of the Amazon client application. I think this step should be done right away as it took quite a while to complete (mostly because of the requirement of .NET 2.0). While that was going on (it took 20 minutes), I started browsing the selection on the site. I have to say that while they have a good start of a selection, it has a long, LONG way to go. I had decided that since they were offering a free TV episode download, I would pick up a show. Remembering that I had missed the last two episodes of CSI last season, I went to the CSI page, checked the ones I wanted and went through with the One-click payment (tm). Immediately the Amazon client app notified me it had started downloading. IN THE REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER! Argh. I could have switched it, but I let it continue just to test it. About 2 minutes into the download, a popup on my desktop told me that I could start watching the show as it continued. I have to say that the quality was awesome of video. Clear, crisp, and the same as DVD. I did notice little drops in framerates every so often, but I attribute that to my PC. Of course my PC is a 2.6 ghz with an ATI 9000 video card and 1 gig of RAM... I do wish that I had a portable device just to test that portion of the software out... But overall I was impressed with the interaction between the Amazon store and the Amazon application.

Things I really like
  • Don't have to keep the content on your computer (watch it, delete it, redownload if you want to watch again)
  • Can keep content on 2 computers and 2 portable devices (share and share alike)
  • If I move again, I don't have to pack up my 300 DVDs
  • Video Quality

Things I don't like
  • Ability to select storage drive! (I have two HDD, my main drive is only 30 gigs while my content drive is 200 gigs. It automatically used the 30 and won't let me change that.)
  • Does this thing do Dolby 5.1 or DTS? I somehow doubt it. Will have to test later, but I am leaving a negative for now.
  • Pricing is attrocious. Why should I pay the same for physical media when I know there are no packaging costs?
  • 20 minutes to install the client?
  • Can't burn to DVD
  • Automatically downloading in the wrong order

Things I really want
  • High Def Content!
  • Support for iPod video
  • More selection
  • What do I do with my large library of DVDs? Can I get downloadable versions of it? Can I load my movies into the tool?

Overall, I am impressed. Things went smoothly. Purchase and download are frightfully easy. Mostly I am concerned with the negative aspects of the service in pricing, my need to select my content drive, and I am an audiophile and need my DTS/5.1. But if they can overcome those three, this would easily replace my content needs and I would gladly go away from DVD's or whatever is next. Down with blu-ray and hd-dvd.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

andy sez:

It looks like heaven for the early adopter set (cough... aaron... cough). This will be the way we get media in the future: stored in a central depository, streamed to a player on demand. Currently, the pricing scheme is a little too (choose your own adjective!) [incoherent, baffling, bewildering, confounding, confused, confusing, disordered, disorderly, disorganized, muddled, perplexing, puzzling; disconcerting, frustrating; fallacious, illogical, inconsistent, invalid, irrational, unsound; absurd, asinine, eccentric, foolish, odd, peculiar, strange, unreasonable, unusual, weird; meaningless, nonsensical, nutty, preposterous, ridiculous, senseless, silly; unconvincing, unsatisfying; inexplicable, unaccountable, unexplainable] for the stingy bastard set (cough... andy... cough).