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Customer Discussions > Amazon Instant Video forum

HD Movies: PC customers left out in the cold!

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Showing 1-25 of 59 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 30, 2009 9:47:24 AM PDT
So, I have been a customer of Amazon video on demand, and formerly unbox and have rented quite a few movies over the years. They download directly to my home theater PC and we watch the DVD quality media and enjoy it. I really like the Amazon DD model, it works well for us.

So now I see that HD movies are available and that perks my interest since I watch Amazon on demand movies on an HDTV. When I open the page I see that Amazon on demand HD movies are only available for Tivo, Roku and a few other devices.

What's the deal? I have to buy a Roku or some other device to watch an HD movie? My money was good enough to watch standard movies on my PC, but suddenly I should have a Roku if I want to buy or rent HD movies? This is either a bizarre oversight, or a blatant insult.

I'm guessing that behind the scenes Roku, Tivo and the companies behind these other annointed devices, have paid a lot of money to license the right to have this specific Amazon content? I mean that's the only way I can fathom Amazon would even consider this absurd policy.

Here's a tip Amazon. I'm not going to buy a Roku, and I already have a DVR from my cable company. I'm not going to buy a Tivo, that would simply be a redundant device/service. I'll just get HD/standard content elsewhere. I did enjoy your on demand service before you shut me out of the section of the store where you sell HD movies.

Posted on Jul 1, 2009 11:17:52 AM PDT
Mike Zupan says:
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Posted on Jul 1, 2009 12:06:29 PM PDT
Thank you Mike for indicating that you think they are working on adding HD Movies for download. Through my searches I have not found conclusive information to whether or not Amazon intends to add this functionality. Is there some source of information, that you have discovered, eluding to this?

As for watching HD movies instantly, I am also eager to find out how this can be done. I have browsed to the HD movies section on the Amazon website and there is simply no movies to select -- all it is, is an advertisement for Roku, Tivo, etc... If you can give me information or a link to where I can browse HD Movies, I would be eternally grateful.


Posted on Jul 1, 2009 12:34:57 PM PDT
Mike Zupan says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2009 12:39:30 PM PDT
Thanks for your input Mike, I appreciate it immensely.

Posted on Jul 2, 2009 4:35:09 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2009 4:12:20 AM PDT
rwizard says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2009 10:30:21 AM PDT
I suspect this was a demand of the content companies, i.e. movie studios. Regarding their fears of piracy. Pretty easy to strip the encryption of a downloaded file. Not so easy copying a film off of a Roku or similar.

Posted on Sep 1, 2009 5:00:59 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2009 11:02:53 PM PDT
M. Stein says:
You can get HD TV Shows on your comp, but the movies are not available. You cannot even get to a d/l page for them, instead you are redirected to an advertisement for Roku, Tivo and various TVs.

Posted on Nov 11, 2009 7:46:27 AM PST
Pecos Bill says:
I agree with CaptainVideoJW -- this is very likely an issue created by the movie studios rather than a limitation of Amazon. If I recall correctly, though, Amazon was the first major retailer to offer DRM-free music, so I suspect that they are actually pushing the availability and freedom of downloadable content, with the content providers pushing back because they're afraid of rampant piracy.

(When, in fact, it's usually these protection schemes that send people out looking for pirated copies. We'd rather just buy it through Amazon but when the studios refuse to release it that way or cripple it somehow, we just go find it on the internet somewhere.)

Regarding PC vs Roku,
I actually have an old computer hooked up to my TV with a cheap wireless mouse and keyboard. I use it to pipe shows to the TV. Works great, but I wish there was more offered this way. I would gladly cancel my cable and purchase shows individually (or watch them "with limited commercial interruption" on Hulu) if more things were offered straight to PC.

Posted on Nov 21, 2009 9:26:51 PM PST
Doc Landis says:
I have taken the "leap" and ditched cable, and currently enjoy all the shows and movies I care to watch on MY schedule for less than 1/2 of what I was paying before for the cable companys "bundled" packaged. FYI, "Bungled" package would be much more apropo! Now, I enjoy true ala-carte entertainment and the savings easily pays for my HD TiVo which I also love.

In my experience, this is likely the shape of things to come, with each of us having the freedom to watch, with either limted commercial interruption, or pay a small fee for no commercials, and watch what we want to watch, when we want to watch it. I no longer concern myself with what night a given TV show airs on the network. I watch what I feel like watching. And I am quite content with the speed at which new releases come available, and I am quite sure that will only improve as the Studios find the revenue stream for on-demand viewing to be even greater than messing with all the details regarding distrubution of DVD/Blue Ray.

Welcome to tomorrow, its a nice day.

Posted on Nov 22, 2009 7:49:47 AM PST
Hi Jesse:

I watch only via Roku (never via my computer) but ironically have never watched via HD as I do not yet own an HD screen. When I click on a preview of an HD movie using Roku, my (TV) screen says that it cannot be viewed in HD, although it does let me watch it at my resolution.

Roku is streaming only... no download. There is no hard drive that I'm aware of in a Roku device (it's a tiny little thing anyway). So, my first thought, as I think someone else may have speculated, is that this is what it's about. If it were about downloading, then it's possible we Roku users also would not be allowed to download either, since maybe the content owners have made some sort of last-ditch copyright-paranoia stand around that matter (i.e.: "If we let them download our highest resolution stuff then it only takes one hacker to break the code and we'll never make another sale of those films").

If they're going to allow standard-definition downloads, then I would think it's not that much of a different issue, but maybe it presently makes sense to the owners to draw their lines at High-Def.


Posted on Dec 21, 2009 4:01:20 PM PST
J.M. says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2009 6:13:07 AM PST
M. Stein says:
Streaming does not present a technological hurdle as roku is the technical equivalent to a 5 year old low end computer (CPU 320Mhz, 256MB DDR). Not to mention, from your computer, you are able to stream hour long HD TV but not an 88 minute movie? Personally, I just want to be able to download HD movies and watch them from my computer, no streaming required. It has been stated that this mess is due to licensing issues.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2009 8:58:35 AM PST
Doc Landis says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2009 10:35:37 AM PST
Doc Landis says:
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Posted on Dec 22, 2009 11:07:53 AM PST
Well HD TV shows are available to stream or download to your PC currently from VOD, but it's only HD movies that are currently unavailable to Amazon on-demand customers via PC. The bandwidth issues are a moot point, because even while user bandwidth limitations are a reality, devices like the Roku and Xbox 360 are not able to surmount those bandwidth challenges either, because the data transfer rate from the service provider is the same, no matter whether the data ends up on your PC or through a Roku.

I do not think streaming is a big challenge to any tier of high speed data service. Any application can be designed to manage the speed and changes of speed by projecting and averaging the buffer. The End user may not understand the buffer/buffering and what it's used for, but every service currently uses a buffer to manage streaming content delivery. The user understands why they have to wait X minutes before their movie is ready to watch.

I think the reason HD movies are unavailable from VOD is because of the limitations the copyright owners put on licensing these products for DD. It's probably just currently inequitable for VOD to deliver this content. Although, I just wonder if it's inequitable strictly because of the licensing? or because Amazon and partners are so invested in the Roku that allowing HD movies for VOD would cut into that ROI.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2009 11:19:46 AM PST
M. Stein says:
But you are not downloading from Amazon to your XBox, MSFT has different contracts than Amazon. Roku is a streaming box and only requires 1.2 Mbps and I guarantee you Roku adjusts based on bandwidth as well and is not that impressive of a machine. Unless you have a dedicated line (T1 Dedicated ~ $300/Month and that is 3Mbps U/D), you will never have a constant 10Mbps stream as it adjusts itself based on network conditions. I stream full HD to my 360 from the Zune store without issue, I can also DL the same movie. I can stream HD rentals via Zune store to my PC as well. The issue that is similar is that there are very few HD Movies available for purchase on the Zune store and this backs up licensing problems. Now do not get me wrong, I agree with both you and Mr. Martin that patience is required, but it is not due to lack of infrastructure or computing ability.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2009 11:27:52 AM PST
M. Stein says:
My personal belief is still that content providers do not want to have possess a digital copy as the next headache that will lead to is why cannot I not play this on all of my machines? When I upgraded my OS why does the content license not update? I no longer own that computer it should not count against my DL restrictions! So why not stream HD to PCs? This is because your average user can find quite a few programs that will write the stream to disk and then you have a copy. XBox and Roku are like black boxes in this regard, most users will not attempt to install software onto one of these unless it comes directly through the service.

Posted on Dec 23, 2009 11:55:37 PM PST
les1984 says:
Given that Netflix HD, a competing service, is also limited to consumer electronic boxes (Roku, TiVo, Xbox, Blu-ray players, etc), I'm gonna have to go with it's a licensing issue.

As M. Stein has mentioned, the Xbox and Roku are essentially black boxes. Right now, the only way you'd be able to record HD from them is if you connect the component output to an analog capture device such as the Hauppauge HD-PVR.

The PC however, is an easier cookie to crack. In fact, I do believe the DRM Amazon's using has already been cracked a while back. With how paranoid movie studios are, they're afraid people will start removing DRM and sharing legally downloaded videos. While their fear is understandable, it's a bit unnecessary. Or should I say too late? People are already sharing movies in HD on the net at likely higher quality than Amazon encodes. Not making HD versions available on Amazon VOD only means they're losing out on a potential revenue source.

Posted on Dec 27, 2009 2:29:36 PM PST
J.M. says:
Well, who knows the real reason behind it all. Some argue licensing and big-corporate-money-schemes Vs. lack of available compatible computing systems, but, if anyone is able to negotiate more freedoms for consumers, Amazon is the golden-ticket to make it happen.

Posted on Nov 3, 2012 9:01:13 AM PDT
Bob says:
Amazon HD streaming is one of the only streaming services that offers 5.1 DD soundtracks. But since I don't have Roku, Tivo, etc, I'll never find out. Has anyone been able to confirm that Amazon HD indeed outputs a 5.1 stream?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 10:59:32 AM PDT
Yes, they do. Depends on your playback device. But my Sony TV and Roku both support 5.1.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 1:25:23 PM PDT
Doc Landis says:
ok, bye.
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Participants:  37
Total posts:  59
Initial post:  Jun 30, 2009
Latest post:  Feb 9, 2015

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