- 15,000 Movies and TV episodes
- £79 a year
- Also includes FREE One-Day Delivery on over 7 million items on the Amazon website
- 30-day free trial
- No monthly payment option for the full Prime package
- New films & TV shows aren't added that regularly
- The selection of Films & TV shows may not suit everyone
What's the quality like?
The quality is actually very good when you consider this is video streamed directly over the internet and I'm sure most of you will be pleasantly surprised.
Of course this will largely depend on how good your broadband connection is, critically how fast and how stable it is.
A lot of content is available in HD and as long as your broadband is up to it you'd be hard pressed to notice much of difference between the streamed picture and its Blu-ray equivalent.
Of course it's never going to be as good as Blu-ray but I'd argue most people wouldn't notice a huge difference and it's definitely an improvement over DVD.
The quality automatically adjusts to your connection speed so your viewing is as uninterrupted as possible, which has its pros and cons.
The video stream will gracefully degrade to try and ensure there are no interruptions, however this will obviously come at the expense of quality.
There's no option to adjust this, e.g. setting a quality threshold that it won't go below (obviously at the expense of buffering/pauses) so you're sometimes stuck with low quality pictures if your connection takes a dip.
I guess Amazon have decided to try and offer the most seamless experience possible at the expense of quality, which on balance is probably what most customers would opt for anyway.
Quality will invariably differ depending on what device you're using to stream the content on. For the purposes of this review, I was using an Xbox 360 outputting 1080p via HDMI to a Full HD TV.
Each programme has its own description which provides not only a synopsis of the content but useful information such as the average review score, whether the programme is available in HD and 5.1 surround sound, the age rating, running time, the principle actors, director, year of release and even the studio that made it.
However, Amazon could do with spending a bit more time ensuring their labelling is correct as in some cases I noticed a programme was marked as HD but it clearly wasn't when playing it back. Checking the quality bar in the info panel during playback confirmed it to be an SD stream.
Of course it's not the end of the world but you are sometimes left wondering if it's your broadband being slow or the programme itself.
Performance & Features
Overall performance is great, the menus and navigation (using the Xbox 360 app) are slick and quick to respond to your commands. Programmes load quickly and the overall experience is pretty seamless.
It's worth mentioning that Amazon has opted to use the default Xbox 360 menu design, layout and navigation that you see across the main dashboard, so whilst it's not bespoke or original, it'll be familiar and easy to use for many.
During playback you have the usual trick-play options such as pause, rewind and fast forward. If you are watching a series, you also have the option to skip to the next episode rather than having to go back to the menus.
There is a great resume feature that remembers exactly where you stopped watching and picks up from where you left off. This is represented by a green progress bar at the bottom of the film or episode you were watching.
Adverts, what adverts?
One of the best things about being a subscription based service like this (Sky & Virgin take note) is there are absolutely no adverts. The whole service is delivered ad-free which means your viewing is completely uninterrupted. That's superb service in this ad obsessed world.
In terms of accessibility it's worth noting that Amazon Instant Video UK doesn't (currently) support subtitles. So if you're hard of hearing you'll probably want to bear that in mind if you're in the market for a streaming service.
How much is Amazon Prime Instant Video and what do you get for your money?
There are actually two pricing models, the bare bones Prime Instant Video steaming service is £5.99/month and the full-monty
Prime package which costs £79 a year (£6.58 a month although you have to pay yearly).
The full Prime service is actually fantastic value for money, especially if you use amazon.co.uk on a fairly regular basis for your online shopping because you get free 1 day delivery on all eligible products. According to Amazon this is over 7 million products!
There is also no extra cost if you want to watch HD content (something that Netflix charges an extra quid for!).
The only slight downside to the full Prime service is you have to pay the full amount upfront for the year.
You still have the benefit of being able to cancel at any time so you're not locked into a year's contract if you later decide it's not for you. It just means you'll be refunded any remaining amount (something that Amazon are extremely prompt with).
Whether you choose just the Video streaming service or opt for the great value Video streaming and free 1-day delivery, either way you are getting great value for money.
Really what it comes down to is whether the content they provide is content you're interested in. You also need to ensure your internet connection is up to the job not only in terms of speed and reliability but also in terms of data allowance.
Streaming video content, especially HD video content, will eat into your data quite quickly so make sure you're aware of any additional costs you might be liable for if you have a data limit.
The Amazon website isn't shy about showing you what's on (as some other services are), so you can simply have a browse around the site to get a feel for what's available to watch.
But why stop there because the best thing is Amazon provide a 30-day trial which is absolutely free (and also includes the 1-day delivery).
It's a fantastic way to road test the service for a month to see if it suits your needs and importantly works on your equipment (TV, games console etc.).
There is simply no substitute to trying it out yourself, so what are you waiting for?
8 / 10 (Very Good)
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