updated 11:10 pm EDT, Wed September 3, 2008
Amazon VOD Live
Amazon tonight launched the finished version of Amazon Video on Demand, the streaming version of its online video service. The official launch moves beyond the beta stage and lets any Mac or Windows PC purchase, rent and watch movies and TV shows directly from the browser, bypassing the Windows-only nature of the company's Unbox software. It also delivers a beta version of a promised link to Sony's BRAVIA TVs equipped with the Internet Video Link add-on and gives the TVs the same purchasing and renting privileges as a computer.
For all computers and devices, Amazon always remembers the purchase and rent history and so lets users get access regardless of their location or the exact device they use. Prices are comparable to services such as iTunes with movies costing an average of $10 to $15 to purchase and $3 to $4 to rent depending on the age of the title. TV shows must be purchased.
The service counters both dedicated media hubs such as Apple TV and Vudu but is most directly targeted against free web services such as network-run sites as well as the Fox/NBC joint project Hulu. Amazon's service is for pay but drops the advertising necessary for earlier sites and also has a much larger catalog of about 40,000 movies and TV programming, including current iTunes holdout NBC.
Amazon's Unbox feature for complete downloads is widely believed to have been hindered by its device limitations, which have required either a Windows PC, a TiVo DVR, or devices that specifically play protected Windows Media, such as the Xbox 360 when joined to a Windows Media Center PC.