Amazon VOD in HD Finally Arrives (Roku & TiVo)


Two years after launching “Unbox” on TiVo (~$250), Amazon (AMZN) has finally rolled out HD video on demand. I’ve been on the road for work, so while my Roku box ($99) has had the high def Amazon service about 10 days, I haven’t yet actually taken a test drive. Early reports from various sources indicate excellent quality. Movie rental prices seem reasonable at $4-$5/pop. Although television content seems a bit much, especially 30 minute shows (which are closer to 20) clocking in at $3. As Amazon’s library grows, this should make TiVo an even more viable competitor to cable’s two-way DVRs with VOD. And while their HD quality may not equal Vudu‘s ($149) high def video, most folks will have less incentive to explore that solution. As both a Roku and TiVo customer, I’m very pleased this day has finally arrived. And I have much less incentive to pull the Vudu (and Blockbuster box) from the closet going forward.

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16 thoughts on “Amazon VOD in HD Finally Arrives (Roku & TiVo)”

  1. As I’m a bit pressed for time, I didn’t get into TiVo being a primary television device – meaning it’s not an add-on, you don’t need to switch inputs or remotes, etc. That makes this service more accessible. However, $99 for the Roku box is a bargain… for folks who have a Netflix subscription. And this Amazon content makes it that much better. Generally speaking, I prefer both AMZN and NFLX on the Roku for the clean and quick interface, with fewer video issues than I’ve experienced on TiVo.

  2. I love Ruko! Bring on Hulu next! I will try out Amazon HD this weekend for sure. Netflix HD is still very limited.

  3. Don’t forget that both Amazon & Netflix are available directly on your TiVo – and they have recently made navigating to Netflix simple by adding a link at the bottom of the Now Playing Liat.

  4. I don’t get that Netflix link option in the Now Playing menu. Doesn’t bother me, just not sure why it’s there. Is this (possibly) a convenience? A marketing thing? Something else?

  5. Dave, I think it makes some sense to have the link on the Now Playing menu…After all you have to queue the items up on your pc and after that they are “Ready to Play” Or “Now playing”…it makes it easier and its not like netflix allows browsing of content so once you select it, it basically is the same as everything else on your Now playing list.

  6. Between Amazon HD on TiVo & Roku, plus DirecTV now streaming 1080 HD movies, that pretty much sounds the death knell for Vudu.

    The competitive differentiator of HDX is about all they have left, and that can only appeal to the most niche of AV-philes, who likely already have BluRay to satisfy their high maintenance tastes.

  7. I think adding the Netflix Folder to the Now Playing List is one of Tivo’s most useful — and damn simple! — changes to the UI. Drilling through the Video On Demand menu is a pain in the tushie if you use Netflix often enough. A better user experience is after all why I bought a Tivo (and a Mac over a PC) instead of a cheaper Brand X DVR.

    I am hopeful Tivo will get more aggressive with such UI improvements — even the simple changes can have huge dividends! I’d also like to see them start to RE-unify the user interface, too, with a single UI across the board, specifically scale for 16:9 displays most commonly used on the HD units.

  8. The price of HD TV shows (esp. half-hour ones) needs to come down on all the platforms or, at least, have a discounted “season pass” that undercuts Blu-Ray — $40-45 for a season of 1-hr show (20-24 episodes typically).

    @ Dave — any comments on TiVo Series 4 survey screenshots that came up last week?

  9. Ivan, I don’t have any insider info on those survey questions. I assume TiVo still isn’t quite ready (and neither is the cable industry) for a tru2way retail DVR with a custom UI (versus cableco-provided). But TiVo needs to modernize their UI for HD sets and all the additional features (and advertising) they provide instead of continuing to glue things onto a 10 year old interface. They could roll that into a new platform as a means of generating sales and excitement.

  10. I don’t know about a death knell for VUDU, as a previous poster claimed.

    The reason I bought my VUDU was because they have constantly been first to everything. I think they will continue to improve. The market is becoming saturated and it is only a matter of time before every movie is streamed in HD.

    I don’t see any personal reason to get rid of my VUDU box. From what I have seen their HD quality is better, and the selection is bigger.

    I hope as a VUDU customer they recognize their competition and come out with something better. We’ll see.

  11. Joseph, I’m the one tolling the bell for VUDU. I’m sure the system is awesome and I’d love it, I just don’t know how they’ll be able to survive in this economy with such a narrowcast audience, and that’s why I never seriously considered the investment.

    Maybe they’ll figure out a way to streamline their overhead and turn a profit with a small core user base, but I’m doubtful. There are getting to be too many streaming options for the casual viewer. Churn might not be a problem because most owners I find are like you and love it, but new customer acquisition is going to be extremely difficult.

    Maybe if they start getting bold and throw Boxee on there or something, and really open up the VUDU box to be a true IPTV solution, they’d have something, but with just the On Demand HD offering and really HDX as their only competitive differentiator, I don’t think they can survive.

  12. Looks good but I hope they add more movies. Ive been holding off on seeing Iron man and Hulk just so i can see them in HD. I dont own blu ray so this will do for me.

  13. It’s such a strange time when we have so many options. There’s Apple TV (lame), Playstation (NICE!!!), VUDU, Roku, hulu, and a few more ending in “U” I’m sure. I think Neflix’s strategy is right on, but just like the last format war, there needs to be a real fight and a clear winner at least for a while for things to prosper and evolve. It’s all so fringe otherwise.

  14. FYI In response to an email inquiry… That TiVo image above is a graphic, not a screengrab or photograph. The reality probably isn’t so sharp and vivid.

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