Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

Hands-on impression of Amazon Unbox on Tivo

Gizmodo posted their hands-on experience with Amazon Unbox on a Series 3 HD Tivo and Charlie White says it’s “off to a fair start”…but I’d rather say the execution of the service is less than ideal. The key drawbacks are usability and the one technology we all love: DRM. Here’s the skinny:

  • After renting a movie, it takes up to 15 minutes your Tivo to start downloading the movie
  • You can’t watch the movie until it is 100% downloaded (one person commented that it took 5+ hours for a movie to finish downloading on his Comcast cable connection)
  • If you cancel the download before it’s completed, you’ll have to pay the rental fee, again. So, you’re shit outta luck if your router locks up or your internet connection fails.
  • Good ‘ole DRM…after the movie is downloaded, it will expire after 30 days BUT, here’s the kicker, if you click Play, the movie will expire after 24 hours. Sweet, huh? We can thank the paranoid movie studios for that.
  • The quality of the movies were standard definition. They saw compression artifacts (aka macroblocking) and felt the picture (The Illusionist) wasn’t very sharp. They didn’t say which version they downloaded but I’m assuming it was the “Tivo Best Quality File.”
  • Last but not least, no Mac support.

So far, every movie download service does not offer the equivalent to buying or renting a physical DVD or HD-DVD/Blu-ray disc. Those that want to rent or buy digital movies have to concede one or more things. For example, no surround sound, the 24-hour expiration (which is an insult), etc. There are several people out there who need more than 24 hours to finish watching a movie (I know, crazy, but they exist).

Surprisingly, the only service (that I know of) that offers HD movies for download is the Xbox Live Marketplace but there are also drawbacks to that service.

Well, cheers to another video download service that’s not perfect. Hopefully, Apple will get it right with iTunes and Apple TV…


Filed under: Digital Movies, Movies, Reviews, Technology, Video

2 Responses

  1. Jigsaw hc says:

    I like Amazon Unbox. I did not notice a long download, and the site itself could use some reworking, but over all I like it. Plus the free $15 for signing up is nice.

  2. koolio says:

    Yeah, the $15 credit for signing up is a nice bonus and I would sign-up if f I had a Tivo Series 2/3 just to get the free $15. I agree – the site could use a re-design to make it easier to sort through the movies.

    Here’s my question: are you at all interested in an Apple TV? Since you already have a Tivo, I’m just curious to know if Tivo + Amazon Unbox is a good enough solution for you.

    I’m guessing you don’t have an interest in the Apple TV since $300 is a lot to spend to essentially get the same functionality you already have with Tivo & Amazon Unbox.

    Btw, I fixed the link to your blog in your comment since you had the link posted twice.

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