The second I noticed my favorite online video retailer was offering a chance to rent movies, and watch them directly from the internet, I was skeptical. Netflix does the same thing. Then I remembered the last time I tried to download a video that size was through my old dial-up cable service. If you know what dial-up means for the transfer rate, you can image how long it was going to take to see one of these movies.
Finally, I got my hands on a DSL line, tried Amazon.com’s on-demand video downloading. I didn’t try much. Due to their prices, due to my overwhelming obsession with movies, I didn’t want to take the chance of going broke. I rented Pursuit of Happyness; you know, the movie with Will Smith. Well, the transfer rate was still much longer than I was expecting. The picture and sound quality wasn’t exactly top notch. But, I think the only thing that makes movie downloading so cool is just the convenience. You don’t have to wait months to get a movie in the mail, e.g. Blockbuster Video Online and Netflix.com. You don’t have to get in your car and waste a couple of gallons of gas just to get to the video store. You can watch your favorite movies by clicking a button and waiting only a couple of minutes. Granted, in those couple of minutes, some people could actually run to their nearest video store but wouldn’t we all just rather sit on our butts and relax? Think of it like waiting until the previews and commercials are done when you go to the movies.
Little known facts
The Amazon Unbox is an on-demand video service offered at Amazon.com.
Amazon Unbox offers a selection – I didn’t say a wide selection, but a selection of movies you can download and watch.
The price to rent some movies is just 99 cents. Others are $3.99. It’s really quite similar to iTunes from Apple Computer.
Amazon Unbox is compatible with Windows XP and Windows Vista computers.
Amazon Unbox offers their own Amazon Unbox Video Player.
You can also play these movies on your Windows Media Player, a PlaysForSure player, and even a TiVo DVR. Those with Apple Computer programs such as the Mac OS X or Linux will not be able to use this system.
You can watch videos on your TV by, say hooking up your X-Box 360 to the internet, and downloading from the site.
Amazon.com swears these videos are DVD quality. Each video has a rate of 2500 kilobytes per second. The average DVD has storage space ranging from 4.7 gigs to 9. Each movie equals out to 4.7 GB.
Amazon says that anyone with an internet connection of up to 3 Mbites/s will be able to watch a movie within 5 minutes.
Pros and cons
I didn’t like the transfer rate.
I did like the convenience.
I didn’t like how the picture and sound quality – despite what Amazon says – did not live up to the quality of a DVD.
I didn’t like how I had to download their player before I even started watching movies.
I did like their prices.
I didn’t like pauses and skips. Almost every movie download will give you pause and skip trouble, no matter what site or service.
It’s great for its price and convenience. But for the time it takes to download a movie, the video and sound quality and all of the other minor quibbles I wish I could overlook, I’ll stick to racing over to Blockbuster Video to rent my movies.