Amazon Unbox Video: First Look

tribbles.gifIt took seconds to make my first Amazon Unbox Video purchase with Amazon One-Click and 90 minutes to download the 45-minute, 1.03G season finale of “NUMB3Rs” from CBS. Luckily, the next part of my test — transferring the 208M portable version to my Creative Zen Vision: M — went as fast as the first. “The Trouble With Tribbles” Star Trek classic is downloading as I write; it’s about 20 percent done after 35 minutes. (I did some speed tests and while my Charter Pipeline service is sluggish right now it’s at least three times faster than what Amazon is delivering — averaging between 250-350KB/s kbps but dipping as low as 145KB/s kbps. If other people are having a different experience, please let us know in the comments.)
— Setup requires downloading the Amazon Unbox Video Player and installing both that and Microsoft .NET 2.0 Framework; the framework install was the slowest part and some people might think it’s stuck.
— The PC-playable video is easily DVD quality and shines on my nifty 21-inch LCD widescreen monitor. I haven’t tried to burn a DVD yet but I gather I’d only be able to watch it using the Amazon player so that’s not high on my list.
— It’s a shock to move from a 21-inch screen to the M and I can certainly see why the new widescreen version of the device would be preferable for viewing long-form videos. But it’s easy to transfer and the smaller portable file size means I could load the M with several video hours and still have room for music, etc.
— You have to leave the player to shop, which is a minus. But Amazon has made it easier to access info from its invaluable IMDb service by providing a page for every download. There’s also a shop button for each cast member in the IMDb page, which again launches an Amazon window.
Update: I still can’t tell what’s causing the download speed problems. I’ve asked someone at Amazon but haven’t heard back. In the meantime, I decided to try the second computer option. I learned you can’t be logged into the service through two computers at the same time. Once I installed the software in my laptop — and, yes, the install seemed to hang at .NET 2.0 Framework again — and disconnected from the desktop so I could log in, Amazon recognized the new computer as authorized. This is where another change on Amazon comes in handy: the Amazon Digital Locker is now known as Your Media Library, where every piece of media a user has purchased shows up — when it works. Click on video collection and the two I downloaded tonight show up. Click on one and ithe video can be downloaded to the new computer, meaning I can watch the tribbles multiply from my sofa instead of my desk chair or take them on a plane.
It’s all a little glitchy now but at least when Apple makes its big, anticlimactic announcement next week, those of us with Windows portables won’t have to have another bout of video envy. Still, Amazon has more work to do.

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