Amazon Prime Video has finally arrived

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon finally launched its long expected Netflix competitor Amazon Prime Video today. The American technology giant claims availability in over 200 countries and territories in the world which means basically everywhere (officially there are 195 countries) and starts with a very competitive pricing. After a trial period of 6 months the monthly fee goes up from 2,99 to 5,99 which is almost half the price of a Netflix subscription.

Content wise, there is a mix of existing films and series and Amazon Originals. Movies like The Godfather trilogy, Pulp Fiction, Grease and Ace Venture) and TV-shows like Justified, The Shield and Seinfeld are well known blockbusters. BBC Top Gear successor The Grand Tour is probably the best known Amazon Original.

There is the Amazon Prime app for watching the movies and series on phones, tables or smart-tv’s (up t0 3 devices) and it is also possible to watch using a browser. Just like Netflix recently launched, Amazon allows  downloads as well in order to watch offline.

A nice feature that Amazon Prime Video provides is the integration with IMDb. Amazon bought the Internet Movie Database back in 1998 and uses the data to enhance video content. Hoovering ones mouse whilst watching an episode or film triggers an overlay displaying the names of the actors and actresses in that particular scene. Also the artist of a particular part of a soundtrack can be pulled up like that. Very nifty.

The Fire TV stick is Amazons answer to Google Chromecast

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Although priced at little higher (USD 39), Amazon did not do any effort to hide what they are after. With their streaming media stick they want a piece of the pie of a market that is dominated by Chromecast. Yes, there are also sticks from Roku, Microsoft en Matchstick, but so far the dominant player is Google.

But there are differences. Chromecast can play anything from a chrome tab on your television and mobile apps can also have the option to view the content on the big screen by pushing a button. The Amazon comes with a W-Fi Direct remote control but who wants another remote in the living room? Luckily there is also an app for your mobile device and Amazon is supporting Miracast, allowing one to mirror their mobile device with the tv which is different from the approach Google has chosen for Chromecast. One can also fling content to the television set making it a very easy to operate.

As for the interface, it is using the same as the Amazon Fire TV interface.

Apart from its own video on demand service Prime Instant Video, Amazon offers apps for Netflix, Hulu, Hulu, WatchESPN, NBA Game Time, Twitch, SHOWTIME ANYTIME, Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, Vevo, Plex, A&E, PBS, PBS KIDS, WATCH Disney Channel, YouTube.com and more. See for all details the page at Amazon.

Nevertheless, the stick will probably work fine and is even cheaper for current Amazon Prime subscribers (USD 19) for the next two days so one might give it a try.

It is finally here, the Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV

The long rumoured Amazon streaming media box has finally arrived. Meet Amazon Fire TV. The Fire TV is a small, black box that runs on a special operating system, has 2GB ram and a quad core processor.

The box connects through wifi and has a small remote control that also has a small microphone to enable voice search

Content comes from its own Amazon Instant Video library as well as from a large number of partners like Netflix, HBO GO, SHO Anytime, Hulu and ESPN.

But it is not all streaming video that one can watch on the Fire TV. Amazon added a photo app, there are several music services like Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and Amazon is promising to grant access to thousands of games as of next month.

The media box costs only USD 99 and is already for sale at… Amazon.com

Finally you can watch LOVEfilm on your iPhone now

LOVEfilm

Whereas most services are available on the iPhone first, Amazon’s LOVEfilm took its time producing an app for the popular smartphone. Until now. Next to the obvious Kindle platform (also Amazon) and the iPad there is a LOVEfilm Instant app for iPhone and iPod allowing streaming video and TV on demand.
The app also brings AirPlay and IMDB integration.

Google Chromecast now available for international shipping… thanks to Amazon

Google Chromecast

Although Amazon competes with Google in the streaming media space, the technology giant is also still shipping a lot products. Like Chromecast. The nicely priced HDMI dongle allowing to stream video directly to your TV whilst using your mobile device as the remote was an instant hit and got sold out almost immediately. And it was only officially available in the United States. Until now. According to Android Central Amazon is allowing international shipping. At least orders for Australia and the UK were accepted. Let us know if orders from other countries were possible as well.

Amazon will try-out five new shows, focussing on kids this time

Amazon Instant Video

The last few years made it clear that content is also king for video. All the major players in the streaming / rental OTT space are working on either developing their own content and / or trying to get exclusives like Netflix did with Arrested Development.

However, series have grown much more expensive to produce. Amazon thinks to have found a method in reducing the risk of failure by testing new series. They produce a pilot of several different concepts and let the viewers decide what series will get a full season.

Amazon also understands the power of kids. So they developed five pilots focussed on youngsters: Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, Grid Smasher, Hard-Boiled Eggheads, The Jo B. & G. Raff Show and Wishenpoof!

All pilots will be available for the young critics on both Amazon Instant Video and the UK brand of Amazon LOVEfilm

“Amazon will launch a Kindle TV set-top box”

Kindle TV

According to Businessweek, Amazon is getting ready to launch a streaming media device. The set-top box would allow users to access the content library of Amazon (Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime) and the suggestion was made that the box could be  named Kindle TV.

In a way it does make sense that Amazon is coming with dedicated hardware. Microsoft has its Xbox, Google has Google TV en Apple is still selling a lot of Apple TV’s. And with the Kindle, Amazon has shown that it can build hardware and that they feel that having own hardware is vital to ensure customers enjoying your product. However, there they do not have a very impressive library. And without that, no service is going to fly. Luckily Amazon knows this and is currently testing 14 different new episode of which at least one of them will become a full show.

Next to that, I think there is still a big chance that smartphones and tablets will take could be the main device for discovering video content and streaming it to a bigger screen. In that case, Amazon can still call it Kindle TV, but all they have to do is to add the feature to their Kindle.

 

Illustration by Tom Cheredar