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Amazon HD VOD

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I just got the email from Roku. Apparently Amazon's VOD service on Roku now shows HD. I will watch it tonight and report my impressions on this thread tommorow.

The NetFlix Watch Instantly HD introduced a month or so ago is free for NetFlix subscribers but has two flaws:

1. Limited titles - There are about 15,000 NetFlix WI titles but fewer than 180 are HD.
2. Only two channel stereo sound

NetFlix HD is transmitted in 720p. It looks very, very good. It is better than DVD quality and indestinguishable from either 720p or 1080i broadcast quality.

Amazon HD has a number of advantages:

1. It apparently has oodles of new releases in HD. Not just the few available on NetFlix. Amazon claims over 50,000 titles.
2. It is cheaper than Comcast OnDemand HD. Comcast offers first release movies at $4.99 and $5.99 for SD and HD respectively. Amazon seems to offer exactly the same moviesl at $3.99 and $4.99.

Many questions remain. The initial ads don't mention whether it's true streaming, whether it's 1080 or 720, and what kind of sound they offer.
post #2 of 27
Apparently engadgethd.com wasn't too impressed with the Roku version...

So we were pretty bummed in our early testing of Amazon's newly HD-enabled Video On Demand service to find that it only streamed stereo audio instead of full 5.1 surround, but it looks like that's actually device-dependent -- we just tried it out on our TiVo HD, and movies play back in Dolby Digital 5.1. Yeah, that's still no Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD, but it's definitely a vast upgrade from the sad two channels we got off the Roku Video Player. So why the difference? The TiVo doesn't stream content like the Roku -- it actually downloads a video file and plays it locally from its hard drive. That means that in addition to surround audio, we also saw a pretty dramatic increase in picture quality over the Roku -- not exactly Blu-ray, but at least on par with the Apple TV, which also downloads content locally.

http://www.engadgethd.com/2009/04/22...vo-plus-hands/
post #3 of 27
I don't know. There is not that much HD content on Amazon. Netflix has Friday Night Lights Seasons 1 & 2 for free in HD. Amazon charges and doesn't even have these in HD.
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
I watched a lot of Amazon HD previews. First of all the price seems to be cheaper than I thought. The newest movies are $4.99 and $3.99 for HD and SD respectively but only slightly older movies are $3.99 and $2.99. This means they are good values compared to Comcast HD.

The video quality is top notch. I watched The Tudors Season 2 Episode 1. Yesterday I sent back to netFlix the DVD for the last episode of Season 1. It was immediately obvious that the Amazon HD version looks better than the equivalent DVD. It is fully equal to any 1080 or 720 HD broadcast I have ever seen. There is no macro blocking, ghosting, or fuzziness.

I don't have a Blu-ray player yet,but I can only wonder if the image would be much better. I suspect that 99% of viewers would never pay for a better picture. I watched on a nine foot Da-Lite Hi-Power screen with the picture projected from a new Mitsubishi HC1600 in a light controled room.

I was pleased to see that Amazon had The Tudors because streaming HD is so much more convienent than NetFlix DVDs by mail. When I discovered that the image quality was so much better than the DVD I resolved to watch that series only from Amazon. I will reserve NetFlix for more rare titles (eg. opera).

I counted the number of HD titles available. I got 164 movies. However it's hard to get an accurate count because there doesn't seem to be a single comprehensive list. If you add in the TV shows there are probably somewhere around 200-300 offerings. Amazon advertises that it has 50,000 titles. I don't know how they got that figure. A single TV show after ten years will have 200 episodes. There are at least a couple dozen such TV shows so they might have 5,000 TV show episodes. This means that right now 90% of Amazon's HD is TV. Or maybe I'm wrong.
post #5 of 27
If you are using a Tivo to view Amazon HD then you can see the number of titles available by going to the Browse Amazon area and there they had Movies (hd) and TV shows (HD) with the number of titles next to it. I am not at home now so I can't add that info.
post #6 of 27
Has anyone confirmed whether the Amazon HD titles are OAR? My biggest problem with most on-demand is the cropping of 2.35:1 movies to 16:9.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnovox View Post

Has anyone confirmed whether the Amazon HD titles are OAR? My biggest problem with most on-demand is the cropping of 2.35:1 movies to 16:9.

Twilight was in its OAR of 2.40:1.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by miata View Post

I don't know. There is not that much HD content on Amazon. Netflix has Friday Night Lights Seasons 1 & 2 for free in HD. Amazon charges and doesn't even have these in HD.

I'm sure they will continue to add more and more [IMG]http://www.entertainment-place.info/smile/img/2464/*************************[/IMG]
post #9 of 27
I have Tivo HDs throughout my house and get Netflix via them. I also have a Vudu box as well.

I rented my first Amazon HD title last night and I can say it is easily better than Netflix- and it should be as it is downloading to the hard drive and NF is streaming. However, in HD the Vudu still beats it by a bit (both have 5.1 DD sound but the video seemed a bit sharper) and the HDX version on Vudu is MUCH better (almost Blu quality). The interesting thing is the price/value tradeoff. Vudu HD is immediate viewing, HDX takes some time to download (about 4 hours) and Amazon is not quite immediate although you can watch while downloading if you let it get started. Vudu HD or HDX rentals are $5.99 for new releases and Amazon is $4.99.

I may use Amazon some due to the price difference, but HDX is much better if you have time during the day to schedule it to download the movie ahead of time.
post #10 of 27
I watched Caprica HD last night on my Tivo Series 3 and was very impressed. (BTW I have both BD & HD-DVD Players and have gotten used to BD quality encodes)
The price was too high ($20) but I'm now going to try to return the unopened DVD I bought from them and keep the HD version on my Tivo.
There were 3 or 4 spots where there were encoding/download errors, where a frame or 2 shimmered. Also at the end credits it stuttered for a second.
Maybe the downloading algorithm doesnt verify the downloaded bits and it was just the decoder recovering? (Or a bug in the Tivo software)
Overall I was very happy, however you cannot transfer to your PC to archive and my Tivo is full (as usual).
post #11 of 27
I watched the last episode of Fringe this week from Amazon Video On Demand on my TiVo in HD . The local station screwed up and it was broadcast in SD(thanks WTTG!) instead or the normal HD broadcast. I wasn't about to watch it in SD so I was pleased that it was available in HD from Amazon. The download started to my TiVo in a few seconds after purchasing it. I would say the quality was below the normal HD OTA quality, but it was still much, much better than watching an SD version.
My only real complaint was the cost. At $3 for each episode I will only be using it in situations where the local broadcaster messes up the HD transmission. Fortunately it rarely happens now. Nothing like it was back in 2001 when I first started watching and recording HD from OTA.

But it is nice to have an option available to watch a show in HD, two or three days after the original airing.
post #12 of 27
Did I miss it or did nobody mention the Amazon rez? 1080i or 720p?

larry
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post

Did I miss it or did nobody mention the Amazon rez? 1080i or 720p?

larry

This link says 720p, but very few of the press releases mention resolution. Also, according to the Amazon FAQ: "Our 2.5 Mbps HD files are streamed in high-quality 720p resolution." But, it is not clear if these 2.5 Mbps streams are only for browsers or apply to the Roku and Tivo boxes.
post #14 of 27
Thanks. I looked at the movie selection and there's a couple I'll probably view. I'll see what rez my TivoHD sends to my display.

larry
post #15 of 27
The HD movies are 1080i. The files you get on the tivo are a higher quality, because the file is downloaded and then you watch (like Vudu and Directv on Demand). The Roku version is streamed and not as good of quality, also, the Tivo HD movies get DD 5.1.

I watched Role Models Unrated HD last weekend on my TivoHD and was very impressed.
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElwayLite View Post

The HD movies are 1080i. The files you get on the tivo are a higher quality, because the file is downloaded and then you watch (like Vudu and Directv on Demand). The Roku version is streamed and not as good of quality, also, the Tivo HD movies get DD 5.1.

I watched Role Models Unrated HD last weekend on my TivoHD and was very impressed.

This is interesting. Can you tell how large the 1080i files are? It is too bad that the Tivo is the only set-top box that does 1080i. The Roku is limited to 720 -- and those are the only two choices right now.
post #17 of 27
Well, here is what I do know. A 1 gig 43 minute SD tv show took about 45 minutes for the tivo to load. A 1hr 45 min HD movie took about that long to download. Sooooo, 2.5 to 3 gigs for a normal flick?

Some tivo users are stating that the encode is actually 1080p, but the Tivo cannot yet do that (the broadcom chip is capable), so even with a lower file size the 1080p encode would be pretty efficient. But I dunno.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElwayLite View Post

Well, here is what I do know. A 1 gig 43 minute SD tv show took about 45 minutes for the tivo to load. A 1hr 45 min HD movie took about that long to download. Sooooo, 2.5 to 3 gigs for a normal flick?

Some tivo users are stating that the encode is actually 1080p, but the Tivo cannot yet do that (the broadcom chip is capable), so even with a lower file size the 1080p encode would be pretty efficient. But I dunno.

What is your connection speed? The HD seems like 720p size file. Are you sure that the Tivo is not upscaling the 720p to 1080i? BTW, what resolution does the Tivo put out for Amazon SD movies?
post #19 of 27
My tivo outputs 480i and 480p for for SD tv shows, just depends, and I also have the tivo set on Native.

Like I said, tivo community guys have commented that its a 1080p file, which if so, 1080p/24 can be a smaller file size with the same to better quality. The broadcom chips can accept a 1080p input, they will just output 1080i. We saw this as Dish Network made 1080p tv shows avaiable for download, but the software of the hddvr was not quite right, so it only output in 1080i. Im wondering if we wont see a 1080p update to the Tivo's.
post #20 of 27
Another idea on the file size is that HD movies have a higher speed cap than SD, so maybe they download faster?
post #21 of 27
Here is a quote from a helpful tivo community member:

Quote:
Amazon's site lists the file sizes for HD purchasable programs.
30 Rock is 22 minutes. It's 869.7 MB on the TiVo.
Caprica is 93 minutes. It's 3.8 GB on the TiVo.

One could extrapolate that a 2 hour movie would be around 4.6 to 4.9 GB.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElwayLite View Post

My tivo outputs 480i and 480p for for SD tv shows, just depends, and I also have the tivo set on Native.

Like I said, tivo community guys have commented that its a 1080p file, which if so, 1080p/24 can be a smaller file size with the same to better quality. The broadcom chips can accept a 1080p input, they will just output 1080i. We saw this as Dish Network made 1080p tv shows avaiable for download, but the software of the hddvr was not quite right, so it only output in 1080i. Im wondering if we wont see a 1080p update to the Tivo's.

Nothing wrong with 1080i output from 1080p24 input. Done correctly they're equal.

My only gripe about the Amazon -> Tivo thing is the 24hour viewing window. 48 or 72 hours would have been much nicer.

larry
post #23 of 27
I agree, only issue is that some tv's dont properly deinterlace 1080i, but I really dont know we'd notice. As far as Im concerned, the 1080i Amazon stuff looks very good.

The 24 hour window is pretty crappy, and I think the 30 day window to start something you paid for is crap too. Not Amazon's fault though, we know who to blame there.
post #24 of 27
Quote:


The 24 hour window is pretty crappy, and I think the 30 day window to start something you paid for is crap too. Not Amazon's fault though, we know who to blame there.

It is a rental. Hopefully it won't take 29 days to download.

larry
post #25 of 27
I watched my first Amazon HD rental and the PQ was quite good at 1080i from my TivoHD. I'll be using it again. The window needs to go to 48 hours. There's a feedback link on Amazon's Video on Demand "home page". I just used it.

larry
post #26 of 27
I turned my Blockbuster online account back on since its cheaper than Netflix and I get good service here. Until Amazon is adding all new movies in HD, it's going to be the backup method. I'll use Redbox in a pinch, but it not being HD is a big deal to me.
post #27 of 27
I have a amazon VOD credit if anyone is interested
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