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Comprehensive Guide To Smart TV - Amazon Streaming Video
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Amazon Streaming Video



Amazon streaming video was formerly known as Amazon Video on Demand. Offered to its US users, the video streaming service is now called Amazon Instant Video. It allows users to watch television shows and films for a small rental fee or in some cases full purchase. The service comes provided with a locally-installed player called Amazon Unbox. The Unbox player is now optional as many PC users can happily view their films or television programmes on wide 23-inch screens or portably using an iPad2 for example.

The system requires you to download Adobe Flash and uses Flash Video to stream your movies and TV shows. The Unbox player is still favoured by many however as it allows one to watch programmes in high-definition. However if you do decide to use the optional Unbox player then be aware it is only compatible with the Microsoft operating systems XP, Vista and Windows 7; so using on an iPad2 or Mac would render this equipment incompatible. It is possible to download videos to DVD discs but only for storage or record-keeping purposes as the DVD will not play in conventional DVD players. It will not operate with Playstation 3 users but will for X-Box360 owners.

The video quality generated on Amazon Instant Video is very good despite the fact they use a smaller file size. A two-hour film for example will utilise about 2GB of data space. On a conventional DVD player a similar sized film would take up around 4.7GB of data storage space.

So how does Amazon streaming video service obtain such a high quality stream? The answer is they use an advanced codec called the VC-1. Ordinarily DVD players would play on a codec known as MPEG-2, which is an older less advanced codec than the VC-1.

Amazon has mastered the download speed for its movies and television shows being rented. One would normally expect to take more than seven hours to download a film that was around two-and-a-half hours long if using a 750KB dial-up connection - even at faster broadband speeds of 3MB, it can be expected to wait just under two hours to download a film.

But Amazon's TiVo service allows users to download a long film in just five minutes. The amazing TiVo service also allowed users to begin watching films even before the film has completed its download.

Users watching Amazon Instant Videos would not only a broadband connection, a web browser like Firefox or Google Chrome which has the Adobe Flash gun plug-in installed and away you go. It is also possible to transfer to portable devices by using the installed client application that can playback your files for you.

Availability on the Amazon Instant Video is good also. During the spring 2008 there were as many as 5,000 movies ready to purchase on the Unbox - iTunes only had around 850 at that same time. To rent a movie it will set you back just 99c for the cheaper films and $3.99 for the blockbuster premium movies. You have the film in your Unbox library for a period of 30 days but once you press play that film will only be available for another 24 hours until it disappears completely. You cannot watch the film endlessly throughout the 30-day rental period.