So last week we started watching Downton Abbey on Netflix Instant Video, but Netflix currently only has Season One available. We finished the first season on Friday evening, and I decided to check Amazon Instant Video to see whether or not Season Two was available or not. I was pleased to discover that not only was it available, but that it fell into the select subset of Amazon Instant Videos that are free for those who have Amazon Prime memberships.
I’ve been a member of Amazon Prime ever since late 2006, and I have always found it a great value given how Melinda and I both do most of our book, music, and gadget shopping on Amazon. And that was just when the only thing a membership got you was the free two-day shipping and reduced price next day shipping. Once they started adding additional benefits to our membership, I was eager to try them out, but up until now I had never run across anything that I wanted to watch or read that was available for free with an Amazon Prime membership.
We decided to use our Wii U for streaming the Amazon Instant Video and found that it’s interface was very nice – much better than the version on the TiVo which is where we had used it before briefly. The TiVo version made the “instant video” part sound like a joke because you first have to download the video before watching it – unlike the web interface version or the version for the Wii U where it truly is instant streaming video. A really nice part of the user interface for the Wii U version is that you can search and interact with the UI on the Wii U Tablet which is by far the nicest interaction for these sorts of applications that I’ve seen on a TV.
When we began watching the video, it came through instantly and crystal clear unlike with Netflix Instant streaming which almost always begin streaming with pixelated video before the quality improves to HD or near HD after a few seconds. I’d guess that it has to do with the fact that Amazon is obviously benefiting from their own network while Netflix is actually hosted on Amazon themselves which means that Amazon can tweak their network to squeeze the best performance for their own services. But that’s just guessing.
I’m pondering whether we should cancel Netflix Instant streaming or even possibly all of our Netflix subscription. I am sad to say that we hardly watched a single disc video last year and yet will still pay the monthly fee with nothing to show for it. We’ve mostly watched Netflix streaming, but I keep clinging to the mailed disc service because there are many videos that I’m interested in watching in our queue that are not available for streaming – although sometimes they are available (but not for free) on Amazon Instant Video. The question is whether or not I’d miss too much the missing content… You know all that stuff that’s been sitting in my queue for years that in all likelihood I will never get around to watching.