Amazon opens ‘Unbox’ online movie store | iLounge News


Amazon opens ‘Unbox’ online movie store


As expected, today launched its Amazon Unbox video store. The web-based service offers TV shows and movies from more than 30 studios and networks.

TV shows cost $1.99 per episode, and most movies range from $7.99 to $14.99. Movies can also be “rented” for $3.99. The “DVD-quality” movies and shows must be watched on a PC using Amazon’s software. Downloads also come with a second file that can only be viewed on one of a handful of Windows Media-compatible video players from Creative, Toshiba, Archos and iRiver. Movies cannot be burned to DVDs for playback in a DVD player. The average TV show weighs in at 600MB in file size and is expected to take 30 minutes to 2 hours to download, while a 2-hour movie is around 2.4GB in size and takes from 2-7 hours to download.

Apple is widely expected to launch its own online movie service at a special event in San Francisco on Tuesday. Recent reports claim that Apple has yet to sign the majority of Hollywood studios due to wrangling over movie prices.

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As you look through the store, the majority of what’s there is not new. There are movies priced at $19.99 that arn’t even new.

Also, for some reason, “Do the Right Thing” cost $35.99. The prices are just all over the place.

The only one that can get this type of service right is Apple. Let’s see what happens on Tuesday.

Posted by Michelle on September 7, 2006 at 5:52 PM (CDT)


why would someone pay 15 dollars to download an enormous file they can only watch on the computer and some junky video players?

Posted by steve on September 7, 2006 at 6:51 PM (CDT)


Funny…noticeably missing from the Amazon store are movies from Disney and TV shows from ABC.  Wonder why that happened???

Posted by Talking Madness on September 7, 2006 at 7:08 PM (CDT)


There’s no Mac support so it’s pretty clear which solution Mac users will favor.

Posted by btn on September 7, 2006 at 7:11 PM (CDT)


I am VERY glad they have chosen to make it at DVD quality for movies and the TV shows not some reduced quality. That makes and breaks it for me, and most likely many others. If I bought any of these movies or tv shows, I want them to look good when I put them on my 60” TV.

Posted by Troy on September 7, 2006 at 8:58 PM (CDT)


I can’t see that anyone would want to download movies at these prices. Wait for the DVD.

Posted by Chris on September 7, 2006 at 9:45 PM (CDT)


One word:


Me and my wallet are going now.

Posted by stark23x on September 7, 2006 at 10:52 PM (CDT)


you can’t watch these on your TV since they need to play only through amazons DRM, which resides on the computer. Unless you have your computer set up to play on your tv.

This will fail already, who will pay that kind of money to have a movie limited to your computer to view.

Hope Apple has the answer.

Posted by deedubya on September 7, 2006 at 10:56 PM (CDT)


What a joke.  Who is going to spend that much money on a huge download that you can’t watch on your TV when you can just buy the DVD for the same price or just a little more?  At least they’re not selling them at the ridiculously low resolution that Apple sells their videos at.  I can’t imagine this being successful.

Posted by Mark on September 7, 2006 at 11:02 PM (CDT)


I can see how downloading music works.  It takes, what? a few seconds to a minute or two to download a song.  It takes a few minutes to download an entire album.

But come on, two hours+ to download a full movie that I can only watch on my tv?  Bullshit.  I don’t see the praticality(sp?) in it at all.

Posted by schiano on September 7, 2006 at 11:05 PM (CDT)


Good move by Amazon but somewhat flawed.

1. Windows only! Apple’s offering will be for both platforms, so that’s a winner right there.
2. Only a handful of portable players mentioned.

Positives are the DVD-quality files and the selection, even though iTunes has quite a few of these. I hope Apple offer the same quality. They could send 2 copies of the file to the computer, one you watch and one you download to your iPod Video. You wouldn’t have to specify which to play on which device.

Posted by Japester on September 7, 2006 at 11:07 PM (CDT)


2 hours?

In that time I would have made 12 trips back and fourth to my local Blockbuster

Posted by dave95 on September 7, 2006 at 11:26 PM (CDT)


I was going to say the same as above.

7+ for a whole movie!?  I could drive across town to Target/Best Buy/Circuit City, buy my movie for about the same price, come home and watch it, and the download STILL wouldn’t be finished.  I could probably go to the store and back, rip the DVD, convert, load it on my iPod, and watch it on there in about the same time as well.

This is completely flawed.
• Limited to their player
• Incredible long download times
• Not burnable to DVD
• Only compatible on one OS
• Limited to the very LOW LOW end of portable player market share

The only positive is the hi-resoluton video.  That in itself comes with the long download times though, which makes it the same price and same time as going to the store.  So it still doesn’t work.

If Apple were to up the resolution on it’s video content, which we would all love, it goes without saying that we’d still suffer the long download times.  So it’s a hard loss considering that the whole point is convenience and “near-instant availability”.

Posted by iScott on September 7, 2006 at 11:41 PM (CDT)


7 hours download for a 2 hour movie? I’m not even going to bother looking into this service, even if people hadn’t commented about the other issues…

Posted by no way jose on September 8, 2006 at 9:40 AM (CDT)


“The average TV show weighs in at 600MB in file size and is expected to take 30 minutes to 2 hours to download, while a 2-hour movie is around 2.4GB in size and takes from 2-7 hours to download.”

Whatever.  With Handbrake I can rip TV shows that end up being less than 50MB and movies that average 500MB.

Posted by TommyT on September 8, 2006 at 11:13 AM (CDT)


Tommy T, sure you can rip video to pretty much any size you want.  It all depends on your target resolution and bitrate.  If you like low bitrate (i.e. low quality) video, then you can get the files quite small (relatively speaking).  But would you really want to pay for such a lossy version?  Maybe if you only intended to watch it on your cellphone.  Lossy compression is always a compromise between file size and file quality.

Posted by dodo on September 8, 2006 at 11:53 AM (CDT)


Um, notice that you can rent Unbox videos for 30 days at a lower price.  Big advantage over Apple’s alleged service in my opinion.

Posted by gboris on September 8, 2006 at 11:54 AM (CDT)


You have 24hrs to view rented movies once you have downloaded them. You have 30 days from purchase to download the file.

Not exactly the same thing. It’s not as if you have that movie for 30 days and can see it as many times as you want during that time.

Posted by Michelle on September 8, 2006 at 12:40 PM (CDT)


Michelle, thanks for pointing that out.  My point still stands though.  Apple is missing a key component if they don’t offer a rental option.  Most watch videos once, hence the popularity of Netflix and cable on-demand. They will see the purchase price as too high for a single viewing.  Of course, there are exceptions for the certain videos we love enough to want to own, and we should be have that option.  But rental (and eventually subscription) is the future of online video.  Apple better get with it.

Posted by gboris on September 8, 2006 at 1:22 PM (CDT)


The videos look great.  I downloaded and episode of ‘24’ and it looked as good as the DVD and much better than when I TiVo it.

Obvious downside is what so many have already noted…huge file size and long download times.  I did download my episode in a little less than 20 minutes, but still, that was one TV episode.

What will Apple do?  If they stick with the low resolution they’ve been using for their TV shows, there will be no comparison in picture quality…Amazon blows it away.

The huge advantage Apple has is iTunes.  The searching process and player aspect of the Amazon service definitely leave something to be desired.  But, actually purchasing the show was very simple…just one click.

I also like the Amazon Media Library where they in essence keep a backup copy of your purchases for you.  Apple will obviously offer something similar as the biggest concern with acquiring a huge video library is where do you store all the files.  Kinda cool that the Amazon media Library also keeps track of your books.

Anyhow, I’m gonna download a movie tonight and watch it tomorrow…or the next day…whenever it finishes downloading…:)

Posted by Talking Madness on September 8, 2006 at 2:02 PM (CDT)

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