Blog Post

Amazon Unbox Update: Download Times, Etc.

During my first look at new Amazon Unbox Video, I experienced slow downloads — 90 minutes-plus for 1G at low transfer speeds well below 400KB/s. After some discussion about KB/s, Mbps and the like, I finally asked how long it should take to download a 1G video. Amazon spokesman Sean Sundwall explained: “Download time is a bit of a red herring because what matters is when you can start watching the movie or TV show and for those on an average broadband connection, that’s within 5 minutes of purchase. If you buy a Cable VOD you have the same issue. It takes almost the whole length of the movie to download those bits but what matters is that you can start watching shortly after purchase. But, you asked for the download times so here they are: 45 minutes to download a gig with a 3 mbps cable modem. Half that (of course) with a 6 mbps modem.”
The assumption is that people want to start watching while they’re downloading but that’s not always the case; it may not even be the norm. If I’m downloading a show for in-flight entertainment on my laptop or to transfer to my Zen Vision M, the actual download time matters more than being able to watch within in a few minutes of downloading. For now, download times are a crapshoot; I have yet to match Amazon’s predicted time.
Etc.: Rafat and others have already pointed out a lot of the problems with Amazon Unbox. A few things stand out as I continue to give the service a workout:
— The initial download has to take place with 24 hours of purchase.
— Amazon provides troubleshooting but no returns, even if the file hasn’t been downloaded completely.
— Deleting a video from a computer doesn’t release the license; that happens only when Amazon Unbox is deleted from the computer. But videos can be deleted and reinstalled on the same computer.
— Purchases can only be made with Amazon’s 1-Click.
— The remote delivery option works just fine.
Some other download experiences: Matt and Dave (in our comments), Rick Shangle, <a href="