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Eye on Demand | December 16, 2017

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Amazon Prime Instant Video (UK) Review

Amazon Prime Instant Video (UK) Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
8
User Interface
8.5
Content on Offer
8.5
Device Availability
7.5
Value for Money
8
8.1

Fantastic via Fire TV!

Often these days when we think of subscription on-demand services, Netflix comes first to mind. Amazon however, not content to just deliver physical items to your door, would probably be Netflix’s strongest competitor. Previously known as Lovefilm in the UK and recently rebranded to Amazon Prime Instant Video, how does this streaming service really stack up against big red?

Amazon Prime Instant Video first made inroads into the UK with the much friendlier and easier to slip-off-the-tongue name of LoveFilm. Why they chose to replace a comfortable two syllable name with an almost-impossible-to-get-right, eleven syllable one is beyond me. And don’t believe it? Ask your friends what Amazon’s video service is called, and it will be any variation of those four words. Amazon Prime, Amazon Video, Prime Video, Amazon Video Prime, Amazon Instant, and the list just goes on.

If we have it right at Eye on-Demand (and I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon were not entirely sure themselves), the general description is Amazon Instant Video, which refers to all of their online videos, with Prime Instant Video specifying all that is available within the monthly or yearly Prime subscription, while Amazon Video encompasses physical media as well.

That out of the way, we are now confronted with the multiple subscription methods that can also be just as confusing. Amazon push their Prime UK subscription above and beyond anything else, and this is the simplest of all to consider.

The bulk of this review will be focusing on Amazon’s Prime content, which works in a very similar way to that of Netflix where it sits in the same release window hierarchy. Amazon Prime Instant Video sit at the lower end of the ladder behind the original cinema release, DVD/Blu-Ray and Premium Satellite/Cable services or PPV downloads. That may sound quite a way down, especially to hard core film buffs, but in reality it just means a year or so from a film or TV show becoming available, which when you consider you are paying for an entire month’s access for about the same as a new release rental, it isn’t so bad after-all.

Quality ButtonVideo quality varies depending on platform and content, but at its best, it’s simply stunning peaking at 11,000kbps* – the highest subscription or free streams we have tested at Eye on-Demand. At this bitrate, the 1080p video on the TV screen should be good enough for everyone but the most critical of pixel peepers. But don’t expect all movies or television episodes to be streamed at this level, it does vary quite dramatically, but even when a much lower 720p video streams onto your TV, you will be hard pressed to complain.

Platform support is quite simply not as good as Netflix, but then outside of the BBC iPlayer, very little ever gets close to big red. That said, Prime Instant Video is available on the Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV hub, iOS, Roku, PS4 and the Xbox One. Still, there are a few glaring omissions. Prime Instant Video has limited Android support, and is not available on the Apple TV, Chromecast or the Nexus Player – most likely because they want you to buy their Amazon Fire TV.

Finally and on a more positive note, Amazon Prime does offer one serious killer feature – offline downloads for iOS, Android and Kindle tablets! This is a huge advantage over Netflix and something to seriously take into account if you travel often.

 

  • Content

    Like Netflix, the bulk of Amazon Prime’s content is at least a year old, but just like Netflix, Amazon also provide some highly acclaimed in-house productions (Transparent coming to mind especially). To be honest, it is very difficult to answer the question over which has the better library, Netflix or Prime, as this comes down to personal tastes. That said, Amazon Prime UK does come with a pile of non-TV related perks which make it an extremely attractive addition to the a viewer’s on-demand line-up. If you happen to have an Amazon Fire TV, it is almost certainly worth adding one of the Primes (US, UK or DE) that suits you the most.

    Unfortunately, bewilderment may begin over what is actually available via their free “Prime” service, rental content and actually purchasing movies and television shows, as Amazon Instant Video is not just a Netflix style all-you-can-eat buffet for video, but combines this with a VOD service similar to iTunes. When you browse or search for titles, you may often be confronted with content that is not available under the sub, but can be purchased or rented for an additional fee. How clear Amazon present all this depends on the platform, with some making it very difficult to confine yourself just to the Prime content (that which is included under a sub) while other platforms separate this in a better way.

    Amazon Prime Instant Video in the UK has such a large range of content, it would take far too long to simply browse through everything that is available. That said, it may be fun to give it a go. Have a look below for the current titles available for both movies and television shows, or log into Tank Top TV to search through their entire library. I can promise you one thing, it is far more pleasant to browse here than it is on their own website!

     

  • via Web Browser

    www.amazon.co.uk

    Amazon Prime Instant Video’s web portal is quite possibly the most disappointing in the on-demand world. And to be honest, that’s rather a sad accolade for Netflix’s most feared rival, and the world’s largest online retailer to have. So why is it so bad?

    Quite simply because it is nothing more than the same Amazon website as used to buy a pair of socks. To be honest, Amazon works brilliantly as an online store. When I want to buy a physical product, I have few issues at all with how Amazon is laid out, but this just doesn’t cut it for streaming video.

    It’s one thing to use a standard interface across the board to retain corporate identity, but just as situations vary, so should the UI. I don’t want to sit on an office chair to watch a film in my living room, and I don’t want to sit on the sofa when hard at work – despite both requiring a similar action taken by the lower part of my body.

    All that said, it is still possible to quickly navigate the menu system to find content to watch, but Amazon are a little cheeky in how they represent each programme. Even when content is available as part of Amazon’s Prime subscription, there will always be a monetary value alongside each film or episode. This is not a fee to watch if a Prime check-mark is associated with the video, but there in case the viewer also wishes to purchase the material. In my opinion, Amazon could be a little more clear on this matter.

    Quality ButtonIn any event, Video quality is very good, with an HD stream tested at approx. 6600kbps*. Although not quite as high as I saw via the Samsung Smart Hub or PS4, it is certainly nothing to scoff at. In most cases, the full-screen option would be the desirable choice for playback, but there is also a standard windowed view as well as a pop-out for those inclined.

    Prime Web 6600kbps

    Platform Pros:

    • Great video quality, especially in full-screen mode.
    • Includes pop-out, window and full-screen video playback options.
    • Includes Watchlist.

    Platform Cons:

    • Not the most sofa-friendly environment.
    • Lazy use of Amazon’s regular website instead of custom front-end.
    • Video quality streams not as good as via the Samsung Smart Hub.
    • No easy way to keep track of watched episodes.
    • Includes DVD and Blu-Ray rentals in browsing & searches. Includes a pair of socks if you don’t search properly.

     

    (Accessing Amazon Prime outside of the designated regions may require a compatible Smart DNS or VPN service. If using OverPlay or Getflix, ensure the locale is set to the UK if you subscribe to the British version of Prime.)

    Time Bar BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]


  • via the Amazon Fire TV

    Best Choice StampIn complete contrast to Amazon’s uninspired web portal, Prime Video on the Amazon Fire TV is not only their finest, but could possibly be the best subscription-based on-demand portal available. This is mainly due to the platform’s bias towards Amazon’s service and its direct integration into the STB (as it obviously is made by Amazon themselves).

    The advantage of this is a unified ecosystem designed to easily direct customers to Amazon’s own content. The home screen has direct links to Amazon titles and the Amazon Watchlist, with even the search option bringing up Amazon video content alongside apps and games.

    You don’t actually need an Amazon Prime account to use the Fire TV, but there is no doubt that having one adds dramatically to the platform’s potential. With or without a Prime sub, Amazon’s video library will always be visible on the home screen.

    But one of the big differences many seasoned on-demand users will notice, is the immediate playback of content once selected. Amazon pre-load movies and TV shows onto the device even when browsing their info screens, so as soon as a show is selected, it begins immediately. This only works for Amazon content, but it really does make a difference.

    Although it is possible to rent or buy Amazon movies and TV shows, there is still a Prime-only menu ensuring everything you browse there will be part of your monthly sub. And a selection of categories helps find that specific film or episode including Recently Added Prime TV or Movies, Recommend TV or Movies, Exclusive Prime Movies, Originals, Most Popular, Kids and Genres.

    The Watchlist is also easily available directly from the main Hub, and if you already had a Prime account when ordering the device, your Watchlist will be populated upon first setup.

    Quality ButtonVideo quality is stunning, and whether you are accessing via the AFTV Box or Stick, you should expect a fantastic 1080p HD stream. Our own tests reached the dizzying heights of an average of 10,665kbps*, which needless to say is rather impressive. This is significantly higher than what Netflix’s own 1080p offers, but I personally find it difficult to tell them apart.

    Prime AFTV Stick 10665kbps

    Outside of the Kindle, the AFTV is the only place where Amazon offer X-Ray for Movies and TV. This is a nifty feature where you can view the names of the actors & characters currently playing on the screen simply by pressing the up button. Press it again, and you’ll get a plethora of additional information including bios, direct jumps to musical scores and scenes, trivia and additional character info.

    In fact, when specifically regarding Amazon Prime content, there isn’t really anything to complain about here. It is, quite simply, the best UI I have seen on any platform for Amazon’s own service.

    Amazon Instant Video & Prime Pros:

    • Brilliant UI.
    • Directly accessible from Home screen.
    • Instant playback.
    • Voice search Integration.
    • Watchlist and Resume.
    • Beautiful 1080p HD streams averaging 10,665kbps*
    • X-Ray for Movies and TV.

    Amazon Instant Video & Prime Cons:

    • No Netflix-style region switching via Smart DNS.
    • Poor on-screen keyboard for searching.
    • Comes at a minor cost to other 3rd party services.

    If you are interested in buying an Amazon Fire TV Stick, it costs nothing extra to buy from the following Amazon links, but helps keep Eye on-Demand in business. To purchase from Amazon UK, click here, to purchase from Amazon US, click here, or from Amazon Germany, click here.

    Likewise, for the faster Amazon Fire TV Box, to buy from Amazon UK, click here, to purchase from Amazon US, click here, or from Amazon Germany, click here.

    (Accessing Amazon Prime outside of the designated regions may require a compatible Smart DNS or VPN service. If using OverPlay or Getflix, ensure the locale is set to the UK if you subscribe to the British version of Prime.)

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON SD BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]

  • via iOS App

    Since Lovefilm became Amazon Instant Video, the iOS app went through a major overhaul. Previously, the iPad app had about as much use as an underwater hairdrier, but their new incarnation targets most of the short comings and not only provides a solid platform to enjoy the content Amazon Prime offers, but also adds the killer feature of offline downloads into the bargain as well!

    The Home screen begins as one should expect, with a large selection of highlights from various collections. Browsing is easily possible from the drop-down menu, both for television shows and movies, and Amazon Instant Video now offer the much needed Watchlist on iOS. Granted, this doesn’t automate episode tracking as well as a Previously Watched category would, but if you remember to manually add your own television shows to the Watchlist, your viewed episodes will be logged and it will be easy to return to them, especially since this platform also supports excellent Resume features.

    The app also supports Airplay, which is really needed since the Apple TV lacks a dedicated app. AirPlay itself allows full-screen playback on your main TV and directly accessible from the video screen without the need of mirroring. And since October 2013, this includes full multitasking, which means the iPad can be manually switched off to save energy or access other apps. It’s just a pity this doesn’t allow access to the rest of the Amazon Prime app itself (see Hulu Plus), as the app could have interesting second-screen options, especially with the IMDb information that is available.

    Quality SDVideo quality is the only real letdown. Although Amazon Prime officially offers HD streams via the iPad, which my own tests can only muster an average of 2420kbps*. This is a pleasant enhanced standard definition stream that looks great on the small iPad screen and acceptable when airplayed to a larger TV, but hardly the promised HD feeds.

    Prime iPad 2420kbps

     

    The biggest treat though in my opinion, and something that really sets this service apart from Netflix is offline downloads. This means Prime customers can download a large portion of Prime titles for viewing in places where streaming would otherwise be difficult, or impossible; Planes, trains, Interstate highways, country lanes, underground commutes or even when abroad on holiday. Make sure you fill up your iPhone or iPad’s storage with entire seasons and movies so that you’ll never get bored when the dreaded airport delay kicks in.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent multitasking AirPlay support without the need of mirroring.
    • Watchlist included on platform.
    • Resume possible, both by device and cloud.
    • Built-in IMDB information.
    • Offline downloads.

    Platform Cons:

    • Episode tracking is still only partially automated.
    • No HD.
    • No offline downloads.
    • No Chromecast support.

     

    (Accessing Amazon Prime outside of the designated regions may require a compatible Smart DNS or VPN service. If using OverPlay or Getflix, ensure the locale is set to the UK if you subscribe to the British version of Prime.)

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON SD BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON AirPlay BUTTONDownload BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]

  • via Samsung Smart TV

    Previously, I had reviewed Amazon’s Instant Video Samsung Hub widget with a fair amount of criticism. Two of my main gripes were the annoying mixture of old-fashioned DVD & Blu-Ray deliveries mixed in with on-demand searches and the lack of a watchlist. In fact, the previous user interface was quite laborious to use in general and at the time, put a lot of customers off the product.

    Not long before Lovefilm became Amazon Instant Video, they completely rebuilt their Samsung Hub widget from the ground up, and have not only addressed those two issues but created one of the better on-demand hubs on the Samsung platform.

    Like the PS4 version, there is a mixture of Prime content (that which can be watched without paying extra under an Amazon Prime subscription) along with rental and purchasing options from the wider library. Thankfully at least, Prime customers can separate browsing to only include content available under their sub.

    Quality ButtonVideo quality is simply stunning when viewing HD titles. Amazon clearly identify these with an HD symbol and when played back, my own tests averaged a staggering 10,780kbps*. Standard definition streams didn’t fare so well in the tests, averaging a mere 2200kbps* in comparison, which like HD is dependent on the programme being watched. That said, the encapsulation and algorithms used by Amazon Instant Video make this still very watchable, combined with the fact the number of SD content seems to be dwindling all the time. I had to search to find SD programmes to test amongst all the HD offerings.

    Prime Samsung TV 10780kbps

    Browsing and searching have also improved dramatically, with more genres than Amazon Instant’s equivalent Samsung widget. In fact, the overall performance and user interface for this widget makes it one of the best ways to watch on-demand content from the UK. FFW & REW are especially fast, with 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x, 32x, 64x, 128x and even 256x speed levels! It is just a pity there are no thumbnails to help such, as available on the Hulu Plus or Netflix widgets.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fantastic UI
    • Only shows on-demand content that is part of the Amazon Prime’s monthly subscription package.
    • Excellent quality streams on HD titles.
    • Watchlist (wishlist) has been included.
    • Can resume a previously started film or television program.
    • Includes previously watched programme category.

    Platform Cons:

    • Not all titles are in HD.
    • No thumbnails for FFW/REW or scrubbing.

     

    (Accessing Amazon Prime outside of the designated regions may require a compatible Smart DNS or VPN service. If using OverPlay or Getflix, ensure the locale is set to the UK if you subscribe to the British version of Prime.)

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON SD BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]

  • via Xbox One

    Amazon Prime Instant Video have come a long way in the last year, from a distant Netflix competitor to a serious contender, mainly due to a vastly improved UI since their launch and greater platform support. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime offer unique apps specifically designed for the Xbox One, but I have to admit I prefer Amazon’s effort on this platform.

    Thankfully, there are no distractions that were provided by the previous Lovefilm’s postal service. Everything here is related to the streaming service for on-demand enjoyment.

    The home screen is fronted by the usual Amazon Instant Video options. A large Featured panel, with four films highlighted, your Watchlist, Recommendations, Your TV Shows, Recently Watched, Recently Added and Most Viewed, not to mention the ability to separate these further by specifying either film or TV shows.

    Your own categories can also be filtered deeper by other means, such as Date Watched, A-Z, TV shows or Movies and you can even remove shows from your Recently Watched list, if embarrassment takes over.

    Browsing is a pleasure with a wide range of categories and genres, though it is a pity that categories can’t be filtered down further.

    Unfortunately, FFW/REW are not as good as they should be. The usual Xbox One high-speed options are available (up to 128x), but there are no real scrubbing or previews possible – it’s all done blind, so unless you know the exact time-frame to go to, it will be hit and miss finding specific scenes.

    Quality ButtonVideo quality on the other hand is spectacular, and every bit as good as Netflix with a 1080 stream possible. Along with Netflix, this is one of the highest quality streams available and picture quality looks stunning on even reasonably large screens. There is no way to manually adjust the video quality sadly, but the dynamic bitrate kicks in the HQ streams almost immediately. My own tests averaged an impressive 10,730kbps*, which places it alongside the PS4 and Samsung Smart TV apps.

    Prime Xbox 10730kbps

    As you can imagine, one really cool thing about Amazon Prime on the Xbox One is that there are no less than five different ways to control your browsing and viewing pleasure.

    Voice: To be honest, I love the Xbox One’s voice control, that is when it functions as it should. It even works directly from your favourite shows pinned to the Xbox Home screen, where you can begin playback of an episode with only a couple of basic command, such as, “Xbox go to Doc Martin”. It is possible to pause, continue, stop, and browse television shows purely by voice, and it even works with fast forward and rewinding, but good luck for keyword searches. Voice control though can be finicky. When it works, it does so with grace and style and really makes it seem like the future is here to stay. But it is almost guaranteed to fail as soon as you try to demonstrate it to someone else, especially those critical of tech.

    Motion Control: When it’s not confusing my foot on the coffee table as the palm of my hand, there is a smidgen of control possibilities here. Not enough though to warrant using. The Kinect motion controller may work better for games, but at least in the initial stages it lacks refined control for streaming services like Amazon Instant Video.

    Xbox Controller: In most cases, the Xbox One controller will be the obvious choice. The only real downsides here are the awkward shape requiring a two-handed operation, and the annoyance that it will go into hibernation after a while – still, if you urgently need to pause, you can always yell it out. Otherwise the controller is a pleasant way to navigate and control Netflix, and at least for navigating, one of the best.

    Controller

    SmartGlass: Sadly Microsoft’s SmartGlass is little more than an ill-thought out novelty when paired with Amazon Prime. There are no true second-screen activities here, with the only use being a thoughtlessly designed remote. In fact, SmartGlass is so poorly implemented, the one place where it would work better than anywhere else – the search function – doesn’t even bring up a proper keyboard.

    Programmable remote: As a last resort, you can always turn to a programmable remote such as the Logitech Harmony, and return back to the retro pleasures of horizontal one-hand sofa laziness. Once set up, it will work just as a good remote should, but be prepared for a lot of hair-loss during configurations, especially if you are competing with voice control to also switch on your Xbox and TV.

    Platform Pros:

    • Full Resume feature.
    • Can remove titles from your recent history.
    • Full cross-platform support.
    • Excellent range of tracking options.
    • Watchlist supported.
    • Clear identification of HD titles.
    • Large variety of categories and genres.
    • Fantastic HD video quality.
    • Wide range of controlling options.
    • Voice control is especially nifty.
    • up to 128x fast-forward.

    Platform Cons:

    • Categories don’t have additional filters.
    • No real scrubbing or FFW/REW thumbnails or previews.
    • Motion control just doesn’t work well enough.
    • SmartGlass poorly implemented.
    • Controller requires two hands, and hibernates.

     

    (Accessing Amazon Prime outside of the designated regions may require a compatible Smart DNS or VPN service. If using OverPlay or Getflix, ensure the locale is set to the UK if you subscribe to the British version of Prime.)

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON SD BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]

  • via PlayStation 4

    Who would have thought a few years ago that gaming consoles would become some of the best media streaming platforms available? Although there is no doubt that the Playstation 4 is one seriously good streaming platform, it does come with a few gotcha’s that to be honest, should never have been an issue.

    For a start, there is no easy way to use a good old fashioned remote control on this rather expensive platform – an incredible oversight, as although the DualShock controller is a pleasant device, it does in general require two hands, runs out of juice quickly and there is no quick FFW or REW option.

    Still, overall this is a solid performer. The user interface is fluid and responsive, sporting the look and feel of Amazon’s new standard which can be found on other platforms such as the Samsung Smart TV. Controlling everything is where it differs, and this is also one of the setbacks.

    PS4 Controller Prime

    Quite simply, there is no easy way to fast forward or rewind during playback. To do so, requires first pressing one of the movement controls left or right, then selecting FFW or REW from a selection of on-screen options with a different button (and in fact a different hand altogether in most cases). Speeds are then variable between 2x and 256x, which may sound rather swift, but with no thumbnail guide, it can be difficult to find the precise spot – especially when you need another two button, two handed operation to resume playback.

    Episode control is not as clear as Netflix’s either, with the only hint of a completed episode being a slight change in hue on the name. Thankfully half watched episodes are clearly identified with a small timeline visible. Last watched television shows don’t fall directly to the front page, but they are easily found by simply drilling into the Recently Watched list, where you can be taken directly to the next episode.
    The Home screen also has your Video Library (if you so choose to purchase or rent titles), Your TV Shows, which could really just be merged with Recently Watched,  and a short list of highlighted material.

    Quality ButtonVideo quality, once playback begins is very good, with an average 1080p bitrate of 4975kbps* tested on our PlayStation4. Images are crisp, clean and without pixelation, even during fast moving sequences. It is worth noting that this is significantly lower than we tested on the Xbox One.

    Prime PS4 4975kbps

    Overall, Amazon Prime’s Playstation 4 app is not one of my favourites, but it is still an excellent app for what it needs to do. The biggest upgrade Amazon could do here in my opinion would be to improve DualShock control, especially in regards to FFW & REW. The Watchlist and Recently Watched links right on the front screen are fantastic, but I would prefer the Prime tab to be far better designed, with concise menus, genre and browsing options.

    Platform Pros:

    • Very good quality streams on HD titles.
    • Watchlist (wishlist) has been included.
    • Full Episode management possible.
    • Can resume a previously started film or television program.
    • Includes previously watched programme category.

    Platform Cons:

    • Not all titles are in HD.
    • No thumbnails for FFW/REW or scrubbing.
    • DualShock controller requires two hands.
    • No remote possible.

     

    (Accessing Amazon Prime outside of the designated regions may require a compatible Smart DNS or VPN service. If using OverPlay or Getflix, ensure the locale is set to the UK if you subscribe to the British version of Prime.)

     

    On-Demand - BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON SD BUTTON HD BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]

  • via Amazon Kindle Fire HD Tablet

    If there is one complete failure on Netflix’s part, it is their refusal to accept the importance of offline downloads.

    In a reality bubble that would put the late Steve Jobs to shame, Netflix’s stance is that WiFi and 4G is so amazingly good these days, who could possibly need offline downloads? The answer unfortunately is nearly everyone, because it isn’t.

    Travelling is a nightmare without offline downloads. Airport and Hotel WiFi is generally speaking terrible (or is too expensive to contemplate), Airplane WiFi is often heavily restricted, and travelling on the road or in trains, not to mention abroad where Netflix’s library changes or disappears entirely builds a very strong case for offline downloads.

    Amazon see things a little differently and provide offline downloads for both Prime and Instant Video titles, meaning there will never be a reason to not be able to access your favourite television show or movie – battery capacity aside.

    Amazon Prime’s video quality on these devices is brilliant, offering 1080p streams averaging 6650kbps. Granted, this is hardly needed on such a small screen that is limited on the HD by 720p, but who really cares when it just looks so good. If it really is an issue, go for the HDX model.

    Amazon Prime Kindle HD 6615kbps

    And while this device lacks any form of AirPlay or Chromecast support, Amazon Prime at least will cast to an Amazon Fire TV as well as a few other devices such as the PlayStation 4. One nifty thing here, is that once playback begins on the main TV, the tablet is used as a second screen with their X-Ray feature at the forefront (Amazon’s X-Ray is a great way to find out more about a TV show or film, from actor bios to music that is currently playing).

    Amazon’s UI is as should be expected, excellent, although I never really feel comfortable seeing the mix of Prime and Instant Video titles together. It always makes me feel like I haven’t got a great deal with Prime, since so many titles are not available under the sub, but require renting or purchasing instead. This doesn’t mean that Amazon Prime doesn’t have a great library, but it does highlight the gaps more than Netflix which doesn’t offer a PAYG catalogue.

    (Accessing Amazon Prime outside of the designated regions may require a compatible Smart DNS or VPN service. If using OverPlay or Getflix, ensure the locale is set to the UK if you subscribe to the British version of Prime.)

    Platform Pros:

    • Brilliant UI.
    • Directly accessible from Home screen.
    • Cross Platform Support
    • Watchlist and Resume.
    • Beautiful 1080p HD streams averaging 6500kbps*
    • Offline downloads for Prime and Instant Video!
    • Second Screen options.
    • Excellent Episode Management.

    Platform Cons:

    • HDX model required for 1080p resolution.
    • No Chromecast support.
    • No HDMI out.

    CC BUTTON Movies BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON Download BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Unblocking Amazon Prime on this device can be achieved by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]

  • via Roku UK

    For decades (possibly centuries), Amazon happily ignored UK Roku owners by refusing to add their app to one of Britain’s most popular set-top-boxes. As of early November 2015, Amazon finally caved in and launched an app for the UK Roku market, despite one being available in the US since time immemorial.

    But let’s be honest here… Amazon didn’t really pull out all the stops.

    Sure, the app works just fine during playback, streaming in at an average tested bitrate hovering around the 10,560kbps* mark. That makes it a rather impressive 1080p stream. Since the Roku 4 is not available yet in the UK, we haven’t be able to test its 4K capabilities if there are indeed any.

    (We’ve corrected the original test benchmark as we made a mistake and had our Roku box set to 720p by accident. Thanks to Mark Hodgkinson over at Digital Spy for pointing this out!)

     

    Prime Roku 10560bkbps

    And to be honest, I prefer the way Amazon Videos can scrub through the time line here with clear thumbnails when compared to how they do it on the Fire TV.

    Another positive point is that Amazon are included in the Roku’s global search, which is a big thing as so far only Netflix, Snagfilms and Popcornflix are also referenced.

    But the app really looks dated compared to others on the Roku, and it appears as though Amazon ventured no further than the basic templates offered by Roku to help small developers get an app out quickly.

    Is it a good thing that Amazon have released this app on the Roku? Yes, but I suspect they will always leave more features to be found on their own Fire TV in the hope that they can attract customers there. After-all, the Fire TV directs all users to Amazon content, regardless of what they want to watch.

    (Accessing Amazon Prime outside of the designated regions may require a compatible Smart DNS or VPN service. If using OverPlay or Getflix, ensure the locale is set to the UK if you subscribe to the British version of Prime.)

    Platform Pros:

    • For the most part, works quite well.
    • Includes Resume and Watchlist.
    • Part of the Roku UK’s Global Search results.
    • 1080p HD streams.

    Platform Cons:

    • UI looks dated and unattractive.
    • Pushes PAYG content before Prime.
    • No X-Ray features.

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    Unblocking Amazon Prime on this device can be achieved by the following Smart DNS providers:

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  • Signing up & How to Access From Anywhere in the World

    First of all, subscribers will need to sign up to Amazon Prime. If you already have a German or US Amazon Prime account, this has no relevance to an additional UK account. Unlike Netflix where travelling between different countries may invoke an alternative library (either in reality or via VPN or Smart DNS), Amazon Prime UK is a distinctively separate entity to any other Prime region.

    There are two ways to sign up to Amazon Prime UK

    For £79 per year, you not only get access to Amazon’s Prime Instant Video streaming service, but you are also entitled to free one-day (UK) delivery on selected items, Prime Music (sort of like Spotify but smaller) and a Kindle book borrowing library. This may work out to be very worthwhile for UK customers, especially for those who use Amazon’s online retail store often, as at around £6,58 per month, you don’t pay much more than Netflix alone. Click here to try out Amazon Prime UK’s free trial – it costs nothing and is no different to a direct Amazon link, but helps keep Eye on-Demand running. (Note: To use Amazon Prime outside of the UK, you will need an unblocking service such as OverPlay or Getflix)

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    Accessing Amazon Prime UK from anywhere in the world

    Signing up to Amazon Prime UK is a pretty simple affair when within the UK, but playing back content outside the country is generally blocked due to Amazon’s IP restrictions. There are two easy ways to overcome these, with VPN‘s being a popular approach.

    However, a better way is via Smart DNS, which has the following advantages.

    • Smart DNS is generally cheaper than VPN.
    • Smart DNS can be easily configured directly on many connected TV devices (such as the Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Nexus Player, Smart TVs etc).
    • Smart DNS can also be easily configured on many routers, allowing all devices in your home to be unblocked. (some free routers supplied by ISPs may not have this ability).
    • Smart DNS is usually faster than VPNs as it doesn’t redirect the video stream.
    • Smart DNS allows normal traffic to flow. (it only redirects the IP address handshake). This means any normal Internet browsing is not being redirected.
    • Smart DNS can unblock streams from multiple countries at the same time.

    Smart DNS is also extremely easy to set up and configure, and simple guides are provided here at Eye on-Demand or with your Smart DNS provider.

    Amazon Prime UK is geographically unblocked by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]

    Once Smart DNS is configured on your set-top-box or router, and you have a valid Amazon Prime UK account, watching the content from anywhere in the world is possible.

  • Conclusion

    Now that Amazon Prime Instant Video have made much needed improvements to their iPad app and Samsung Smart Hub, the service is simply too good value for money to not give it a go. Besides the great price, they get two other things right from the beginning. First, they offer a free month’s trial, and second, if it is not quite to your taste, you can easily end your subscription at the end of each month – presuming of course that you don’t go for the full Prime yearly sub.

    I do hear some people complaining about the older content on Amazon Prime and how it lacks the latest releases. But what can we honestly expect at this price point. Amazon Prime Instant Video, along with Netflix, fills the role past the cinema, DVD/Blu-Ray, PPV and premium cable/satellite releases which does mean you can expect a year at least before most new content reaches their libraries – outside of their own productions. But this doesn’t mean the content found on Amazon Prime is not worth watching.

    Far from that. For £5.99 per month, Amazon Prime offers more films and television programmes that most normally active people could care to watch or have time for. There is a lot of content for a price which in many cases will get you just one new-release rental through a PPV distributor.

    Amazon Prime still may lack in the platform stakes, but their recently improved Samsung Smart Hub widget & iOS app with AirPlay is certainly the right direction to go. They both have an excellent UI, and the Samsung Smart Hub in particular has great HD video quality. If this if this is a platform you possess, you will get a lot of punch for your pound.

    Still, it is hard to forgive such a large company from neglecting the Apple TV, Android TV and Chromecast. One perhaps, but so many missing platforms?

    Due to the exclusive nature of many Amazon Prime and Netflix titles, many people are opting for the combined package. Amazon Prime UK at £5.99 + Netflix UK at £5.99 comes in at just under 12 quid, which when you consider combined they offer nearly 4700 films and 1400 television seasons above and beyond your normal television, it is almost enough to consider cutting the satellite or cable cord. You could also add a good Smart DNS service to allow changing Netflix regions, increasing your available television and film range by a significant amount – though this only works for Netflix and will not change Amazon Prime’s library.

    Another great reason to choose Amazon Prime is the amazing offline download feature, something missing from Netflix. Available for iOS, Android and Kindle, this allows users to download entire seasons or movies onto their device for access where there is no broadband or even when travelling abroad.

    To help you decide, why not check out Amazon Prime’s range of feature-film content through one of the web’s best online movie guides, Tank Top Movies. Just sign in and select Amazon Prime as one of your selected services.

    Warning: Don’t confuse Amazon Prime Instant Video UK with the equivalent services found in other countries such as Germany or the US. The libraries and accounts are entirely separate and can not be switched like Netflix, whether via VPN or Smart DNS. If you wish to have access to the libraries in other countries, you will have to subscribe separately to them.

    Pros:

    • Great value for money.
    • Large library in both films and television shows.
    • Completely ad-free before and during playback.
    • HD streams available through selected platforms.
    • Watchlist on selected platforms to keep track of films and TV shows.
    • Easy to browse and drill down through filters through the web portal.
    • Cross-platform support allowing you to resume on a different device.
    • iPad supports Airplay with multitasking.
    • Offline downloads on Kindle, iOS (iPad & iPhone) and Android.

    Cons:

    • Poor browsing options outside of web portal.
    • Some platforms don’t have the best FFW/REW & Scrubbing options.
    • No Apple TV, Android TV or Chromecast support.
    • No FFW/REW thumbnails.

    Technical Details:

    • Available on Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 (as of 05.2013), PS4, Sony Network Media Player, Kindle Fire HD, iOS, Selected Samsung/LG/Sony Smart TVs & Blu-Ray players.

     

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    * Bitrate tests were based on multiple averages and are subject to both the geographical location and ISP bandwidth at the time.

    Log:

    11.04.2013: Review first published. score 5.6 – Worth Trying

    03.05.2013: Updated. PS3 now supports 720p HD and watchlists.

    14.08.2013: New price update.

    15.09.2013: Major Samsung Hub update, improved UI and video quality. Score increased to 6.2 – Fantastic on Samsung Smart Hub.

    23.09.2o13: Major update with brand new iPad app that offers AirPlay, Watchlist and more. Major score increase to 7.4.

    16.10.2013: iOS update allowing multitasking to AirPlay.

    03.01.2014: Xbox One review added, with score increase due to improved platform support (PS4 review to come soon): 7.5

    24.04.2014: Major update over all platforms due to brand change, additional features, lost features and PS4 review. Due to poorer web UI and sustained lack of platform support, score has dropped to 7.2.

    20.08.2014: Added Tank Top TV listings.

    11.10.2014: Added Amazon Fire TV Review: Score increased to 7.8

    14.04.2015: Updated AFTV platform with X-Ray.

    28.07.2015: Major update & overhaul.

    12.08.2015: Added Kindle HD.

    04.09.2015: Added Offline downloads. Score increased to 8!

    10.11.2015: Added Roku review. Score increased to 8.1.

     

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