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Eye on Demand | August 18, 2017

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Amazon Prime Instant Video (US) Review

Amazon Prime Instant Video (US) Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
8
User Interface
7
Content on Offer
8
Device Availability
6
Value for Money
7
7.2

Possible Netflix killer

Amazon Prime Instant Video is America’s second largest on-demand video subscription service and the chief pain in Netflix’s proverbial side. Sometimes good competition works in the favour of the consumer and this has given Amazon Prime some killer features that walk all over Netflix. But is it really as good as it sounds?

As Netflix’s main competitor in the US, Amazon Prime Video offers more than just a carbon copy sVOD streaming service, providing a raft of great features such as offline downloads and add-on subscriptions that makes Netflix start to appear a little thin on the goods in today’s highly competitive market. All these great features almost turn Amazon Prime into a true alternative for cable television and can both compete with or compliment other sVOD services like Hulu.

Unlike Netflix’s digital service which concentrates purely on a subscription VOD product, Amazon Video mixes sVOD content with pay-as-you-go. This can be confusing for many customers as often TV shows or movies that attract the eye when browsing Amazon’s collections are only available for rent or purchase instead of being included in their monthly subscription fee. While Amazon makes a reasonable effort to identify which content is available under a Prime subscription, it seems to me at least that it is also clear they hope to benefit from any resulting confusion.

In addition to that, there are a couple of other differences between Amazon Prime and Netflix:

  • Where Netflix is available in almost every country, and travellers will find their library simply changing as they either physically or virtually move around the world, Amazon Prime only works in the country where the subscription is based. If a US subscriber crosses the border into Canada, without a Smart DNS or VPN service their online access to Amazon Prime comes to a grinding halt (although Amazon allows many titles to be downloaded for offline access to help mitigate this problem to a certain degree)
  • Amazon Prime is also only available in a small range of countries that include the US, UK, Germany, Austria and Japan, and again unlike Netflix there are no connections between these accounts. If a US Prime customer flies to the UK, they can not simply log in there even though Prime exists in that country – the accounts (and the apps) are entirely separated. In this case, Amazon really have helped build the wall.

Those points aside, Amazon have provided some seriously convincing reasons to still consider their streaming service, which include:

  • Monthly subscription is cheaper than Netflix.
  • Unlike Netflix, the basic monthly sub includes 4K content and allows two concurrent streams.
  • Additional subscription options include the full Amazon Prime package on top of the sVOD service such as:
    • Prime Music
    • Free 2 day delivery on many items.
    • Unlimited photo storage
    • 30minute early access to Amazon Lightning Deals.
    • Free Prime Kindle eBook library.

Video quality varies greatly depending on the platform and whether the content is offered in 4K or HD. We haven’t been able to test their 4K streams yet, so we’ve concentrated on how well each platform handles HD content. In this respect Amazon Prime generally speaking do exceptionally well, with some of the highest quality 1080p streams we have tested on a subscription Video-on-Demand service.

As for platform support, this has significantly improved over the years, but generally speaking it’s still not quite as good as Netflix. The main problem here is that Amazon have been trying to push their own product, the Fire TV, in order to lock customers into their own ecosystem. While we have absolutely no qualms over Amazon’s Fire TV and actually praise the platform in our review, their attitude towards competing platforms leaves us and many potential customers deeply disappointed.

 

For the most part, this review is concentrating more on the subscription service of Prime Instant Video, but of course there is no reason to ignore the possibilities of the more encompassing PAYG offerings. It should be pointed out though, that we have only tested the Prime subscription service with Smart DNS.

 

  • Content

    At the end of the day though, it all comes down to content, and here is where things start to get interesting. Much like Netflix their library predominantly sits within the 2nd pay TV window –  meaning that outside of special deals you should not expect the latest television episodes as the season currently airs, and movies to appear at least a year after cinematic release, sometimes longer.

    This should be expected however, as like Netflix, there is generally speaking a huge range of content and entire box sets available from many popular shows, and while most titles may not be the very latest, they still license a few TV shows very shortly after they air on US TV.

    However, it’s their growing library of original content that is starting to raise a few eyebrows.

    Last year Amazon signed up the BBC’s ex Top Gear team Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May under a record budget of $250 million for 36 episodes of their new show The Grand Tour, and while this is not due out until later this year, a number of other original series have been making their mark including Transparent and The Man in the High Castle.

    The Man in the High Castle

    Bosch

    Hand of God

    Betas

    Alpha House

    Mozart in the Jungle

    Transparent

    Red Oaks

    Mad Dogs

    The selection shown below were examples of Prime content available at the time of publication.

    TV

    Movies

  • Amazon Prime via Browser

    www.amazon.com

    If there is one place few Amazon Prime Video users will ever want to end up, it would be this website. Essentially, this is nothing more than your standard Amazon web experience, which is absolutely fine when browsing for that new book or Hans Solo action figure, but it really makes for the most horrid of on-demand user interfaces. Thankfully Amazon Instant Video do things a lot better on alternative platforms, so this particular site would really be only visited for related activities such as account control.

    In all honesty, I tried to find some merit in the way Amazon have presented their Prime service through the web portal, but in reality I can’t find a single thing I actually like about it. It’s so bad, just navigating it for this review was painful enough, let alone actually using it to watch content.

    Even the quality of video was low, which we tested averaging 2750kbps*, and played back in a jittering, unwatchable fashion.

    Amazon Prime US web 2750kbps

    There is so little to actually like about Amazon Prime via a browser, I’ll cut to the chase and recommend you select any other platform, whether Prime via mobile or a set-top-box. Whichever alternative method, it will be better.

    Platform Pros:

    • Access to Amazon accounts.

    Platform Cons:

    • Nothing more than the standard Amazon shopping interface.
    • Totally inappropriate UI.
    • No offline downloads.
    • Poor quality video.

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

    CC BUTTON SD BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

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

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • Amazon Prime via Fire TV

    Best 2In 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 Your Videos, Recommend TV or Movies, Exclusive Prime Movies, Originals, Most Popular, Kids and Genres.

    The Your Videos screen 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 10,570kbps*, 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. (If you have a 4K Fire TV, along with a compatible 4K television, you should be able to also stream selected content in UHD).

    Amazon Prime US AFTV 10570kbps

    The AFTV is the only set-top-box 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, there really isn’t a lot to complain about here, so if I were forced to moan, I’d look at the way FFW and REW is implemented. While I liked the 10second hops back and forth, I wasn’t so fond of the way this platform handles standard FFW and REW.

    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.
    • 4K streams possible on the latest STB.

    Amazon Instant Video & Prime Cons:

    • No Netflix-style region switching via Smart DNS.
    • FFW/REW could be tweaked.
    • Comes at a minor cost to other 3rd party services.

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

    Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTONCC BUTTONThumbnail BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • Amazon Prime via iOS

    Amazon Prime is also available on the iOS app store, but it’s important to remember that the US version of Amazon Prime requires the American app installed from a US iTunes account.

    The Home screen launches 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 Watch Next category to keep track of episode management.

    The app also supports Airplay, which is required since the Apple TV lacks a dedicated app. AirPlay itself allows full-screen playback on your main TV and is directly accessible from the video screen without the need of mirroring. As an added bonus, this also 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, 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 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 Chromecast support.

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

    Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON SD BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON AirPlay BUTTONDownload BUTTONCC BUTTON Thumbnail BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

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

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • Amazon Prime via Samsung Smart TV

    Without doubt, the best way to watch Amazon Prime’s content is on an actual television, and although Amazon are missing from many set-top-boxes that directly compete with their own Fire TV, they do support selected smart TVs and Blu-Ray players including many models from Samsung.

    Amazon Prime’s Samsung Smart Hub widget has much of the same features as the Fire TV platform, although it appears to run an older version that has subtle differences, especially in the way it handles episode management.

    Overall the interface is a pleasure to use and also includes the much required Watchlist (which is thankfully cross-platform compatible). In fact, to top it off there is also a separate Recently Watched list as well, automating the procedure of finding your half finished episodes that little bit more.

    Quality ButtonAlso to its benefit were the fantastic high quality streams we tested that averaged 10,840kbps. These looked stunning on our TV, and performed without a hitch.

    Amazon Prime US TV 10840kbps

    On the downside, FFW and REW are bit clunky, with speed steps from 2x to 256x, but no thumbnails to provide clues of where you are, and no simple back or forward jumps.

    Platform Pros:

    • Very good 1080p streams.
    • Well designed UI
    • Makes use of coloured remote buttons.
    • Good Episode Management.

    Platform Cons:

    • PAYG titles are also present.
    • Uses an outdated app on many TVs.
    • No X-Ray.
    • Can be sluggish on some TV models.

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

    CC BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

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

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

     

  • Amazon Prime via Xbox One

    Amazon’s Xbox One’s app unfortunately diverts from the standard UI found on the Fire TV in order to use the Xbox standard horizontal interface. While this will provide consistency across many other Xbox apps, it may be less welcomed for people shifting between different Amazon Prime platforms.

    The Home screen contains many of Amazon’s most useful categories including episode management options like Continue Watching or the Watchlist, along with a pile of browsing methods.

    Quality ButtonOnce video begins playback, the quality is simply stunning. I’ve seen some pretty impressive streams while testing at Eye on-Demand, and what I have seen here is without doubt amongst the best. 1080p artifact-free streams, tested with an average of 11,710kbps* is nothing to scoff at. Well done Amazon, this is certainly pushing the benchmark.

    Amazon Prime US Xbox1 11710kbps

    FFW and REW implementation is average, but lack the thumbnails and ease offered by Netflix. Speeds vary between 2x and 128x but without any visual clues, it is quite hard to find precise spots.

    On the other hand, what’s really cool about the Xbox One as a streaming platform are the options available to control your apps, and regarding Amazon Prime Instant Video, there are no less than four ways to control the on-demand service, each with their own preferences and advocates.

    Voice: One of the coolest ways to control Amazon’s streaming service is by voice, and this can be started directly from the Xbox One’s Home screen. In fact, if you pin your favourite shows to the Xbox Home screen as well, you can begin playback of an series with a single command. Unfortunately, it also seems to start playing the very first episode regardless of where you are in the series, but maybe this was a bug that will be fixed at a later stage. Otherwise the voice control works, at best, some of the time. You may be able to pause a show by talking to it, you may even be able to FFW and REW by voice, but as long as you expect to be ignored half of the time, then you won’t be bitterly disappointed.

    Xbox Controller: Probably the easiest way to control Amazon Prime Instant Video is via the Xbox controller. The only real downsides here are the awkward shape for such a simple operation, and the problem 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 Amazon, and at least for navigating, one of the best. Here is a quick guide to the controller for the service:

    Xbox Amazon Controller

    SmartGlass: The Xbox’s SmartGlass concept has so much enormous potential, almost all of which has been completely wasted on this particular app. What could have been a near perfect touch screen remote, has been reduced to pretty much nothing more that the worst designed controller you could possibly think of. There is no second-screen information, no details of the currently playing show, or any real use of social media. I couldn’t even get the virtual keyboard to work via SmartGlass.

    Programmable remote: If all else fails, you can always resort to a programmable remote such as the Logitech Harmony, and return back to the retro pleasures of horizontal sofa laziness. Once set up, it will work a dream, 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

    In all honesty, I’d rather Amazon retained the same UI as they use on the Fire TV. I’m a big fan of consistency which helps bring simplicity, but if you happen to have an Xbox One, you’ll probably feel right at home with this app.

    It’s worth noting that if you have additional subscriptions to Amazon Prime from other countries such as the UK and Germany, you’ll have to also install those apps from their respective app stores – and they all look the same, so although you can mix Amazon Prime apps from different countries onto the single hub, it can get a little confusing which are which.

    Platform Pros:

    • Incredible, high quality 1080p streams.
    • Excellent episode control and handling.
    • Full cross-platform support.
    • Recently Watched list accessible from front screen.
    • Loads of different ways to control the app.

    Platform Cons:

    • No FFW or REW thumbnails.
    • Controller generally requires two hands and falls asleep.
    • Kinect voice control often fails.
    • SmartGlass terribly implemented & without a virtual keyboard.
    • Doesn’t use the Fire TV UI standard.

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

    CC BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • Amazon Prime via PS4

    Amazon’s PlayStation 4 app is pretty much identical to their Samsung Smart TV one, which is not a bad thing, as it could have resembled their somewhat bland Roku app after-all. But on the other hand it still uses the older UI that has since been updated on the Fire TV.

    Despite this, episode management is still excellent with half watched episodes clearly identified – complete with a small timeline visible. Last watched television shows don’t fall directly to the front screen, 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.

    The rest of the Prime action happens in the Prime Instant Video tab found at the top of the screen. Here you can drill down between TV shows and movies, via categories or genre. Implementation is a bit clumsy and confusing though. For instance, if you want to browse though television dramas, simply scroll over to TV genres >> drama. But try doing the same for movies. It is there, but somewhat hidden behind Prime Instant Video >> Top Movies & TV >>  Movie Genres >> Drama, which begs the question, will this list all drama, or just what Amazon defines as “Top” drama?

    Also annoyingly, FFW and REW are somewhat inadequate. Granted, the speed ranges from x2 to a blitzing fast x256, but that is about the only positive thing. It takes no less than three key presses to begin fast forwarding, more if you want to increase speed, and a further two key presses just to resume playback – remember, if something was easier to do in 1983 than today, it’s done wrong. There are no thumbnails either during FFW & REW, making it near impossible to easily find a specific location unless you know the exact time – and how often is that the case? To rub things in a bit more, no use is made of the four shoulder buttons on the controller. These could make perfect FFW/REW, scrubbing or skipping buttons.

    Speaking of the controller, it really could make other better uses for the amount of buttons available. But there are a couple of handy shortcuts. The square will usually take you directly back to the home page, unless you are during playback where just to confuse us further, it does nothing that the direction buttons can’t.

    PS4 Controller Amazon Prime USQuality ButtonVideo quality is very good, but we couldn’t see evidence of the 1080p streams other platforms like the Xbox One managed. Instead, we tested a very solid 720p stream averaging 4070kbps*. That said, visual quality was excellent and we couldn’t really find and serious flaws in it.

    Amazon Prime US PS4 4070kbps

    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 update the app to the latest version as found on the Fire TV and stream in 1080p where possible.

    Platform Pros:

    • Good video quality.
    • Excellent episode management.
    • Full cross-platform support.

    Platform Cons:

    • No X-Ray.
    • Poor FFW & REW.
    • No Scrubbing or FFW/REW thumbnails.
    • Older UI than latest version.
    • Only 720p streams max.
    • DualShock controller generally requires two hands and could make more use of buttons.

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

    CC BUTTONWatchlist BUTTONTime Bar BUTTONHD BUTTONEpisode log BUTTONRecently Watched BUTTONCross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

     

  • Amazon Prime via Roku US

    Amazon Prime is surprisingly available on Roku boxes and sticks. I say surprisingly, as Amazon generally don’t like to support any platforms that they see as direct competition to their own – and the Roku box and HDMI stick are probably the closest you can get to a Fire TV box and stick.

    The reason for Amazon’s exception here is down to the age of Roku itself and that Amazon has been present on it long before they launched their own platform. That said, they haven’t gone down without a fight and consequently Amazon have issued updates to their Roku app only with great reluctance, resulting in a user interface that looks like it belongs in a previous decade.

    The Roku channel  starts off with a basic menu listing offering the Watch Next, Prime Instant Video titles, PAYG Movies and TV Shows, and Add-on Subscriptions. Despite its ageing appearance, it does the job without too much hassle, even if it omits additional features like X-Ray.

    I found it relatively quick to return to currently watched shows or unfinished episodes, and being Roku, the global search at the platform’s Home screen will include Amazon Prime results.

    Quality ButtonVideo quality was good during out tests, but far from the dizzying heights found on some other platforms, with streams tested at 4320kbps*. Despite the lower quality streams, playback still performed flawlessly and visual quality was excellent.

    Amazon Prime US Roku 4320kbps

    FFW and REW is either done by single or long clicks via the left/right buttons (my personal preference) or using the actual FFW and REW buttons which I find a tad clumsy. In either case preview thumbnails are provided which makes searching for specific scenes easy.

    While this app certainly lacks the elegance found in other platforms, it is still an excellent way to watch Amazon Prime content with beautiful playback.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent HD quality video streams.
    • Excellent Episode Management.
    • Automated episode tracking listing.
    • Global search in Roku’s own UI.
    • Can purchase or rent directly from channel as well as watch subscription service.
    • Basic IMDb info.

    Platform Cons:

    • Mixture of PAYG and subscription can be confusing and annoying at times.
    • No 1080p streams.
    • Outdated UI.
    • No X-Ray.

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

    CC BUTTON Thumbnail BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar 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:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

     

     

  • Add-On Subscriptions

    If the content available under Amazon Prime isn’t enough, there is also the option of adding any number of additional subscription packages from 3rd party networks including the likes of Showtime and Starz.

    Before we get overly excited, these new add-on packs all cost money, so if you cut the cord with cable TV to save a pile of cash, you can now reinvest it all back in to Amazon.

    The name for the new 3rd party service is the Streaming Partners Program and American Amazon Prime customers can choose from a surprisingly wide range of distributers for an additional monthly no-contract fee, which varies from $2.99 through to $9.95.

    All of the packages are available via Amazon’s own apps on Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Roku, Fire TV and other supported platforms, which really makes things quite handy. And the amazing thing as well is that it should be possible for subscribers to also use their Amazon credentials to log into the stand-alone apps of participating services, although we have yet to test this out for ourselves.

    To be honest, this is a great way for a pile of independent cable TV providers to make their content available on an OTT basis, without the need to invest heavily into their own online distribution and billing network by utilising Amazon’s.

    At the time of publication, 46 partners were available for free trials and subscribing, with more to arrive in the future including live streams and sports packages. If you want to just try them out, don’t forget that the cancellation page is found at Amazon’s website.

    • Showtime: Award-winning Original Series, hit movies, sports, and more.
      • 7day free trial, $8.99 per month afterwards.
    • Starz: Captivating original series and hit movies.
      • 7day free trial, $8.99 per month afterwards.
    • Comedy Central Stand-up: Original stand-up specials and series.
      • 7day free trial, $3.99 per month afterwards.
    • SeeSo:  Original and Classic Comedy from NBC incl. series, stand-Up specials and more.
      • 30day free trial, $3.99 per month afterwards.
    • Acorn TV: World-class TV from Britain and beyond.
      • 7day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • Lifetime Movie Club: Selection of new and classic Lifetime movies.
      • 7day free trial, $3.99 per month afterwards.
    • History Vault: Hundreds of hours of curated historical videos.
      • 7day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • Gaia: Yoga, meditation, documentaries, and original programming.
      • 7day free trial, $9.95 per month afterwards.
    • Qello Concerts: Thousands of full-length concerts and music documentaries.
      • 7day free trial, $7.99 per month afterwards.
    • DramaFever Instant: Hit Asian dramas.
      • 7day free trial, $3.99 per month afterwards.
    • Shudder: Curated by horror aficionados devoted to all varieties of horror.
      • 7day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • CuriosityStream: Dive deep into documentaries.
      • 30day free trial, $5.99 per month afterwards.
    • HooplaKids: Nursery rhymes, yummy recipes, arts and crafts, educational videos, & more.
      • 7day free trial, $5.99 per month afterwards.
    • Screen Junkies: The HONEST take from your favorite personalities on all things film and TV.
      • 30day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • CONt: Movies, TV shows and coverage from Comic Con events.
      • 30day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • Tribeca Shortlist: Handpicked award-winning films, indie gems, and legendary classics.
      • 14day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • SundanceNow Doc Club: A handpicked curation of award-winning documentaries.
      • 30day free trial, $6.99 per month afterwards.
    • IndieFlix Shorts: Short films from 50+ countries and 1200+ film festivals.
      • 30day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • Cineast:  A uniquely curated collection of films for the movie buff.
      • 14day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • Smithsonian Earth: Captivating nature & wildlife documentaries.
      • 7day free trial, $3.99 per month afterwards.
    • NatureVision TV: Nature television.
      • 14day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • Docurama: Award-winning documentaries.
      • 7day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • Daring Docs: Documentaries on hot topics and social issues.
      • 7day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • Dox: Documentaries from cutting edge filmmakers around the world.
      • 14day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • AcaciaTV: Fun and effective workouts for every fitness level.
      • 10day free trial, $6.99 per month afterwards.
    • RingTV: World-class boxing.
      • 7day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • Dove Channel: Trusted and safe family entertainment.
      • 30day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • Urban Movie Channel: Urban content – movies, documentaries, comedy and more. 
      • 14day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • Monsters & Nightmares: The creepiest, most terrifying horror films of the last decade.
      • 14day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • Fear Factory: Eerie, fun flicks that bring the bump in the night.
      • 7day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • Warriors and Gangsters: Action and adventure flicks.
      • 14day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • Paula Deen Network: Paula’s award-winning cooking & lifestyle shows.
      • 7day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • CinePride: LGBT favorites, from critically acclaimed dramas to underground cult hits.
      • 7day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • Here TV: Award-winning Gay and lesbian movies, series, and documentaries.
      • 14day free trial, $7.99 per month afterwards.
    • BeFit: Workout solutions for every body.
      • 7day free trial, $6.99 per month afterwards.
    • Comedy Dynamics: smart and sharp stand-up specials and films.
      • 7day free trial, $3.99 per month afterwards.
    • Xive TV: Documentaries — exploring history, science, nature, adventure and mystery.
      • 7day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • SpaceRip: breathtaking collections of space and astronomy videos.
      • 7day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • British Pathé Presents Secrets of Cinema: Revealing profiles & behind the scenes.
      • 7day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • Jennifer Adams: Home & Lifestyle: Design solutions that inspire.
      • 7day free trial, $3.99 per month afterwards.
    • Undisputed Champion Network: boxing chat and analysis.
      • 7day free trial, $3.99 per month afterwards.
    • Motorland: Automotive. Anytime. Anywhere.
      • 7day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • All Warrior Network: Military themed entertainment.
      • 7day free trial, $4.99 per month afterwards.
    • Indie Club: An eclectic mix of star-powered independent films.
      • 7day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • All Babies Channel: classic songs, lullabies, phonics, and more.
      • 30day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.
    • Nursery Rhymes Club: Rhymes to learn ABCs, numbers, colors, shapes and more.
      • 30day free trial, $2.99 per month afterwards.

     

    If you want them all, that’s a staggering $223 extra per month, or shall we say $2670 per year on top of that $99 annual Amazon Prime bill. We’re talking some serious viewing expenditure here, and prices that had driven many a cable customer towards the cord cutting route in the first place.

    Whether Amazon can sell a large number of these additional subscriptions is anyone’s guess, although I would imagine Showtime and Starz will attract a few more subscribers than those inhabiting the lower regions of that list.

    Interestingly enough, the most expensive package is not the premier services like Showtime and Starz, but a yoga channel of all things. Who would have thought our new age friends would turn out to be the biggest capitalists of them all…

    Amazon Prime US is officially only available in the United States, but we’ve already tested Showtime out via Getflix, and it looks like they’re unblocking all of the additional 3rd party packs as well! This means a huge bulk of American cable TV is now unblocked around the world via Getflix without the need of a long-term traditional cable contract, so why not try out their own 14 day free trial!

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

     


  • Signing Up & Unblocking for Global Access

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

    There are three ways to sign up to Amazon Prime US

    Subscription

    For $10.99 per month (or $99 per year), you not only get access to Amazon’s Prime Instant Video streaming service, but you are also entitled to free two-day (US) 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 US customers, especially for those who use Amazon’s online retail store often, as at around $8.25 per month (for the annual sub), you actually pay less than Netflix’s standard fee. Click here to try out Amazon Prime US’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 US, you will need an unblocking service such as Getflix)

    Accessing Amazon Prime UK from anywhere in the world

    Signing up to Amazon Prime US is a pretty simple affair when within the US, 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 US is geographically unblocked by the following Smart DNS providers:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

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

    Just remember that if you use a Smart DNS provider like Getflix that supports Amazon UK, US, Germany and Japan, you will need to switch it in their settings to the US for the American subscription.

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  • Amazon Prime Instant Video is the main competition to Netflix. Like Netflix, it sits in the same on-demand delivery window behind PAYG purchase or rental platforms and with content that for the most part is not the latest available.

    If what you want is the latest, high rating television shows effectively at the same time they air on US television, you will need to subscribe to Hulu Plus. However, if you want a large collection of slightly older titles that include entire seasons, as well as an alternative range of originals, Amazon Prime is a great option. The fact that it also includes a wide range of films and many exclusive television titles makes it quite an attractive choice for its price range.

    Then include the add-on subscriptions like Starz and Showtime, and it really starts to become a fully comprehensive cable alternative, especially when such an important, yet rare feature like offline downloads are taken into account.

    But while Netflix has been concentrating on the all-important concept of simplicity, Amazon have been adding so many features and options that they risk falling into an abyss of complexity that their users may struggle to crawl out from. And with all those additional features, Amazon Prime still lacks profiles which will make things somewhat annoying in family households.

    In any event, if you don’t yet have a US Amazon Prime account, you can grab a free month’s trial here. With some staggeringly impressive originals including the Man in the High Castle and the upcoming The Grand Tour (ex Top Gear), along with offline downloads for Amazon content (though not it seems for the 3rd party subscriptions), there are a lot of reasons to give this a try!

    Pros:

    • Amazing 1080p and 4K video streams on selected platforms.
    • Good Platform support.
    • Excellent range of television shows and films.
    • Cross-Platform support.
    • Watchlist and excellent Episode Management available on most platforms.
    • Offline downloads for iOS, Kindle and Android platforms.
    • Commercial free.
    • Full AirPlay support.
    • Add-on Subscriptions available for additional content.

    Cons:

    • No Apple TV app!
    • No Chromecast support.
    • Limited Android TV support.
    • Confusing mix of PAYG and subscription content.
    • Not as good platform support as Netflix.
    • Very poor web portal.
    • No profiles.

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    Log:

    17.09.2013: Review published: Score 7 – Very Good.

    20.09.2013: iOS updated with AirPlay & other improvements. Score updated to 7.2

    18.10.2013: iOS app updated with AirPlay multitasking support.

    25.02.2014: Major update adding new reviews for Xbox One & PS4 along with overhual. Best platform switched from Samsung Smart TV to Xbox One.

    14.04.2015: General update.

    11.05.2016: Complete overhaul and new review.

     

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

     

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Comments

  1. Amazon prime is definitely a good deal for those with enough yearly orders through Amazon. Truth be told some people will not benefit from this program, but with the addition of more digital contents into Amazon prime video, the subscription is well worth it. Just imagine you can now cancel Hulu-Plus, Neflix and other on demand video services.

  2. I just signed up today and watched a movie that was 1:44. It took us almost four hours because every few minutes it would stop to load, sometimes resuming BEFORE the point where it had stopped, and often stop loading to give us an error message. Then we’d have to re-open the Amazon. Netflix was never this bad. Has anyone had similar problems?

    • Hi Colleen, I don’t experience this problem in Germany. This does indeed sound like quite an issue. Can I ask what platform you are using to view (i.e. Samsung TV, Roku, Apple TV etc)
      If you are watching Amazon Prime Instant Video within the United States, you should certainly have no issues with buffering. I suggest trying a different platform, in other words, if you had issues on an Apple TV or Roku, try via your web browser to see if there is any difference.

  3. Tom Fleming

    can’t get instant video amazon prime to work on my minix neo x-8 plus. will cancel amazon if it will not be supported…Really