Amazon Instant Video Review: Online Video & DVD Rentals
|Sign up for Amazon Instant Video|
|Good selection of movies and TV shows, but most are pay-per-video, which gets expensive. Amazon Prime members get a great selection of free movies/TV shows.|
For pay-per-video online streaming, Amazon Instant Video is the best service that we've seen. Both its rental and purchase prices for videos are cheaper than other sites with similar expansive collections of titles, and their interface makes it easy to both find what you are looking for and browse through the slew of videos that Amazon Instant Video provides. It also offers users the option of either streaming or downloading videos, regardless if they are renting or buying. It's fast, easy and cheap; three things that everyone wants when they are looking for a video to watch.
All videos are individually priced, although there is definitely a theme to the pricing. Most rental movies seem to be $0.99, unless you choose HD, which is then $1.99. For each rental, you have 30 days to start the movie, and then 24 hours once the movie has been started to finish it. The prices to purchase movies vary more widely than the rental prices, depending on the popularity of the movie. Recent releases can be as much as $14.99, but most other movies are cheaper.
While you can't rent TV shows from Amazon, there are two options for purchasing shows. You can either buy each episode individually or buy a TV Pass for the entire season. Each season has its own TV Pass, so you'll need to buy those separately if you want an entire series. Most TV episodes are around $1.99 to buy, depending on the show, and most TV Pass subscriptions are a discounted price per episode (ex. $1.69 per episode.)
Amazon Prime: If you are an Amazon Prime member, there is very good news. A good portion of Amazon Instant Video is free with an Amazon Prime membership. You can stream movies and TV episodes for free, and even get discounts on the movies and episodes that aren't free. Not sure what Amazon Prime is? Amazon offers a Prime membership for $99/year that gives members free 2-day shipping on most Amazon items, as well as access to thousands of books through Amazon Kindle and an array of movie and TV titles via Amazon Instant Video.
Amazon has an outstanding library of movies, but not as much depth when it comes to TV shows. To truly test Amazon's movie library, we searched for the most obscure titles that we could think of. For the most part, Amazon carried the titles. They have both the original version and the 1980s remake of The Fly. They have the original Russian version of Solaris. They even have the 1983 cult classic Videodrome. Needless to say, their collection of movie titles is very impressive.
As for TV shows, they have most of your favorites from today, from Grey's Anatomy to Ice Road Truckers. However, there doesn't seem to be many TV shows from before the 90s. They have all the seasons of Saved by the Bell and ER, but don't have any Cosby Show, All in the Family or Golden Girls.
Video quality on Amazon is great, even on your smartphone or tablet, but you can also opt to view most videos in HD, which is definitely much better. Amazon is very consistent with its video quality, which makes viewing easier. It never blurs or becomes distorted while you are watching, which some of the video streaming services had an issue with.
Many online video services either stream videos or lets you download them. Amazon lets you choose. Whether you rent or buy, Amazon gives you the option of either streaming the videos through Your Video Library or downloading them to your computer. There are a few different ways that you can view videos from Amazon Instant Video. The most popular way is by computer. You can either view videos directly on your computer or hook your computer up to your television so you can stream your favorite videos from your couch.
Other devices that will allow you to stream Amazon Instant Video movies and TV shows include Playstation, XBox, Kindle Fire and Roku, as well as your mobile devices like iPhones and tablets.
The coolest, most techie customer service we've ever experienced. They are fast, courteous and very helpful.
When you get to the Contact Us screen, there will be buttons and drop-down menus to help you narrow down your issue. Once you have narrowed it down, there are three contact options to choose from: Email, phone or chat. While email is quick and helpful, the fastest options are phone and chat. With the chat option, you are almost instantly connected with a live customer service person via IM chat window, who can help you with your issue or transfer you (within the chat window, which is a cool feature) to someone who can help.
The coolest help feature Amazon has is the phone option. Once you click the phone button, it will ask you to enter your telephone number. Once you enter the number and click on the "Call Now" button, your phone will instantly ring and connect you with an automated message that will tell you your wait time before a customer service agent will be with you. (For us, wait time was on average less than a minute.) From the time we clicked the "Call Now" button to the time our question was answered was an average of five minutes, which is impressive for customer service by phone.
The only issue with Amazon customer service is that you do have to be a registered user in order to access the Contact Us section, which is not a huge inconvenience considering you need to register to do most other things on Amazon.
Amazon Instant Video is a great combination of pay-per-video and unlimited streaming (for Amazon Prime members.) It's pay-per-video movie selection is better than any we've seen, and cheaper, too, although more expensive than truly unlimited streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. It's the best way to view videos that you are looking for or just find a movie for a low-key movie night.
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