Online Movie Rentals

Amazon Unbox/Video On Demand (VOD)

Amazon VODAmazon Video On Demand (VOD) is an online service, only available in the United States, offered by which offers television shows and films for rental and purchase. The service became available in September 2006 as Amazon Unbox. Two years later the service was renamed “Amazon Video on Demand.” The Unbox name still refers to the locally-installed player, which is now optional. VOD programs play in Flash in all web browsers with the Adobe Flash plug-in installed. It is also compatible with TiVo series 2 and 3 DVRs, Sony BRAVIA TVs that have an internet video link device, and computers that use Windows XP operating systems. One thing to note about Amazon VOD is that if DVDs are burned of these videos, they will not play on a DVD player.

According to its promotional materials, those interested in using the streaming video online on demand service need a web browser with the 32 bit Adobe Flash plug-in to stream videos. You can also use certain portable devices to play your Video On Demand stream. The cost of using the service ranges from as little as 4.99 per month and up. Some videos can cost a little more to stream. There are options now like High Definition, paid video streaming without ads, some free online video streaming with ads, and others. While many people do enjoy this service, and find it easy to simply get these Amazon Video on Demand movies onto their TiVos, there are other problems with the service.

Some users complain that the cost is too high in relation to the convenience of the service. You can’t burn DVDs and play them anywhere, the quality varies from consumer to consumer, and companies like Netflix already offer online streaming along with their traditional postal-service video shipping. Also, the selection availability is said to be higher with a service like Netflix or Blockbuster. Also, while generally offers very good customer service, some folks do not like the idea that using the Amazon Unbox feature will allow Amazon to track their preferences in videos and ad selections, to further market straight to them. Other may prefer this type of selective marketing, but there are definitely consumers who find it to be annoying and even “pushy.”

Some other complaints about Amazon’s Unbox service are that movies are priced too high to rent. For $4, you can only watch the movie for twenty-four hours, while a traditional rental service like Blockbuster allows 3-day rentals at a similar cost. Also, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get an Amazon VOD video in a traditional and preferred wide-screen format, so the look of the movie might not be as high quality as a traditional rent. While there are definitely up-sides to Amazon’s VOD/Unbox system- like convenience- there are also downsides, and many consumers still seem to prefer the traditional way of renting movies, either by visiting the local video store or buy using a mail-in system like Netflix.

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