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Most people know Ama­zon as one of the largest on­line re­tail­ers to­day, but they don’t just sell phys­i­cal goods. Ama­zon has its own range of dig­i­tal con­tent from the Kin­dle book li­brary to Ama­zon Mu­sic, and now Ama­zon In­stant Video. Orig­i­nally called Ama­zon Un­box in 2006, and Ama­zon Video on De­mand in 2008, it was strictly a dig­i­tal on-de­mand pur­chase/rental ser­vice. In 2011, it was re­branded Ama­zon In­stant Video and in­cluded free stream­ing of selected movies and shows to Ama­zon Prime mem­bers.

Ama­zon Prime In­stant Video has a large li­brary as well, but it’s a mix of sub­scriber and paid con­tent. It is be­hind Net­flix in terms of its sub­scriber li­brary, but its paid con­tent is much more cur­rent. As an on­de­mand stream­ing ser­vice, you can pur­chase movies that aren’t re­leased on DVD yet, such as the afore­men­tioned Lego Movie, which puts it ahead of Net­flix DVD rentals.

Like its com­pe­ti­tion, Ama­zon tries to have exclusive deals with stu­dios to lock in cer­tain con­tent to its Prime ser­vice such as Veron­ica Mars and MTV’s Teen Wolf. It’s also the only place to get a full range of HBO pro­gram­ming out­side of HBO di­rect. This in­cludes pop­u­lar se­ries like True Blood, Board­walk Em­pire and The So­pra­nos. Sadly, Game of Thrones is not in­cluded in the Prime sub­scrip­tion’s stream­ing li­brary.

Its in­ter­face is not as stream­lined as Net­flix or Hulu; it does of­fer fil­ters for your searches, but un­less you’re very spe­cific about a ti­tle, re­sults will come back from Ama­zon’s en­tire li­brary. There are no per­son­al­ized rec­om­men­da­tions on the desk­top ver­sion, and since Ama­zon also in­cludes both free and paid con­tent among your search re­sults, you might be dis­ap­pointed when you re­al­ize your Prime sub­scrip­tion doesn’t give you ac­cess to cer­tain shows.

When it comes to mo­bile apps, Ama­zon isn’t as wide­spread as Net­flix or Hulu as the Ama­zon In­stant Video app can only be found on iOS, not An­droid. This is likely due to ex­clu­siv­ity for Ama­zon’s own hard­ware plat­form, the Kin­dle Fire tablet and Fire TV, which are forks of An­droid.

What Ama­zon has go­ing for it is the greater ben­e­fits of the US$99/year Ama­zon Prime mem­ber­ship, which works out to around US$8.25/month, be­tween Net­flix and Hulu of­fer­ings. But what you get isn’t just Ama­zon In­stant Video, but also the Kin­dle Own­ers’ Lend­ing Li­brary (free Kin­dle books), the newly launched Prime Mu­sic (ad-free mu­sic stream­ing) and additional ship­ping ben­e­fits (within the US).

More re­cent shows. Dig­i­tal pur­chase and rental. No ads. HBO con­tent. Limited Prime con­tent. Web in­ter­face not op­ti­mized.

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