Amazon Unbox

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I like new technology. I'm a big fan of electronics and trying new things with any digital medium. In 1984 I was an avid user of Compuserve, which was an early pioneer in the digital age, like a pre-revolution AOL, just using ASCII text instead of HTML. I remember there was a "shopping" section which had all sorts of stores, but nothing like today. Its like a flea market compared to today's corporate dominance of the web. There was a cookie company that made homemade cookies, and I remember using them for special events. Like one time my older sister hurt her leg in an equestrian riding accident. I sent her cookies to make her feel better, and did it all through Compuserve. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and still regret to this day that I didn't see the significiance online shopping.

Fast forward 23 years and i'm still a huge fan of online everything. I do EVERYTHING online. Shopping, research, entertainment, work and communication are centered around my 'net access.

I have a Tivo Series 3 (lifetime subscription). I use Netflix ($15 a month for 3 movies). The marriage between the two has now created Amazon Unbox.

Those that have Tivo (Series 2 or Series 3) or a PC can use this feature, if they have their Tivo or PC connected to the internet. Think of it much like "On Demand" that Cablevision has. Basically people can buy or rent movies that they can download from Amazon to their Tivo/PC. If purchased they are in the Amazon media library with Amazon, and always available to re-download. If rented, the user has 30 days to view the rental, and once they begin watching it, they have 24 hours to complete watching the movie, before it is automatically deleted. If you rent a movie, you have to purchase it again for rental if you wish to watch the movie again, but if you bought it, its free to redownload. Each Tivo/PC can hold, at most, 2 downloaded movies at a time. Also users can put these files onto portable digital players, too.

I went to Amazon to check it out. It was pretty easy to sign up, and new users get a $15 credit towards new Amazon Unbox downloads until April 30. I saw "Borat" was for sale for $15, and figured what the hell.

Results? Impressive in some ways and not-so-impressive in others.

The video quality was good. Unfortunately it wasn't in widescreen, and on my plasma it looked the same as "regular" 480i TV, which comes out like a box on my rectangle plasma. The sound quality was fine, there were no problems or irregularity with that. The download took about an hour, for a movie that was 83 minutes long. I didn't think that was so bad. A cool feature is that you don't have to be home to download the movies. Just log on to Amazon (at work, for example) and by the time you get home you can have 2 movies waiting for you.

Right now i'm not going to run out and cancel my Netflix account. I'd like to see if they eventually come out with a HD widescreen version of the movies (unless it was just "Borat" which wasn't in HD). Maybe they had to shrink the resolution to make them easier to download in an acceptable period of time? I'm not sure.

You can read more about Amazon Unbox here.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on March 12, 2007 12:08 AM.

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