Posted By RichC on March 12, 2007
I’m a big fan of the ‘movie by mail’ services like NetFlixâ„¢ and Blockbuster Total Accessâ„¢, but recently found out that there is a new game in town: Amazon Unboxed “delivered to your Tivoâ„¢.” The concept is similar in many respects to the service offered by Apple that allows downloads to iTunesâ„¢. (PC and Mac) The iTunesâ„¢ purchases are ordered online and then downloaded; they then can be viewed on your computer screen, exported to video iPodâ„¢ or ported to a TV. (special equipment such as AppleTVâ„¢ or other setups are required) For Tivoâ„¢ owners, the beauty of the Amazon Unboxed feature is that the movie or TV program is downloaded directly to your Tivoâ„¢ unit and is ready to play at the touch of a remote. Very convenient.
Not so quick … there are a few questionable issues:
First, navigating the Amazon Unboxed movie selection isn’t as smooth or intuitive as NetFlixâ„¢ or Blockbuster Total Accessâ„¢. (Apple’s service is good, but requires proprietary software: iTunes) I’m by no means a expert though, as I signed up Monday and have only ordered one movie. (NOTE: sign up before April 30th and get $15 credit towards free movies) The process is pretty simple, but prices are not all that attractive. Each TV program episode is about $1.99 and most movie ‘purchases’ about $14.99. Rentals are downloaded at $3.99 and can be viewed for 30 days. Once you make a selection, the download begins and the movies are sent over your homenetwork to your Tivoâ„¢ unit in about 15 minutes. (file sizes are large so movie will most likely not be available for a while. ie. Tivo movies files are about 2GB) Unfortunately the ability to use the TiVoToGoâ„¢ and Multi-Room Viewing features have been disabled to meet rights holder requirements.
As for the movie quality, mine is as good as it gets on an older Tivo Series 2â„¢ unit — I’m not sure about the new Tivo Series 3â„¢? As for comparisons, Netflixâ„¢ offers limited downloading although I haven’t tried it. I am not unfamiliar with the ease or the availability of movies and tv programs. Blockbusterâ„¢ doesn’t offer delivery over the Internet, but one-ups Netflixâ„¢ allowing renters to return mailed movies to their stores. The big plus is that it also acts as a free movie coupon; customers can rent another movie on the spot. (really nice) Currently this bonus comes as ‘no-charge’ to Blockbuster Total Access customers, BUT rumor (and a recent survey) indicates that they will soon be charging a premium for this service. All in all this new rental and purchase option from Amazon looks to be promising for Tivoâ„¢ owners, although I wish the pricing was more in line with my current Blockbuster Total Accessâ„¢ setup:
*Online Membership: 1 at a time, Unlimited rents @ $9.99 for 1 month + tax and received a coupon once each month for a free rental. (rented 4 movies by mail, used one coupon for a movie and exchanged two in the month of February. Price per movie approximately $1.50 each — that’s hard to beat.)