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Why does amazon VOD stream in SD not HD?

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Showing 1-25 of 59 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 9, 2011 4:49:29 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 9, 2011 4:54:34 PM PDT
Spirit says:
I have a three year old rig with a HDCP monitor and HDCP video card.

I've streamed two movies through amazon and noticed the bubble that pops when I mouse over the connection icon says 480p (also says high quality). How can I stream in HD? I don't see options to choose which quality to stream with.

I can stream through netflix in 1080p through my ps3 and xbox with no issues whatsoever.

Posted on Apr 10, 2011 1:37:29 AM PDT
Xander Crews says:
Since Netflix is strictly movies they probably have higher capacity servers which can manage the extreme bandwidth required to stream 1080p. Amazon is first and foremost a marketplace and doesn't have the capable servers (yet).

Posted on Apr 12, 2011 4:02:16 PM PDT
Amazon does stream in HD to compatible devices. HD movies are not available for PC viewing therefore this is why you are only getting 480p. if you had a roku or sony bravia you could stream 720p

Posted on Apr 13, 2011 6:16:54 PM PDT
C. Burkhart says:
I think the point is ... why not. Why can't we get HD movies on PC as well as on a roku or Amazon enabled TV. The bandwidth requirements to stream HD to a PC or to a roku should be almsot identical. All I can figure is that it's a silly licencing thing. If that's the case it needs to change. The other problem I have ... you can't BUY movies in HD. Even on the Roku. There's more then a few movies that I would have paid a bitmore to buy instead of just rent in streaming HD. The crazy thing is... these aren't cheaper options. These are options that COST MORE. And yet the customer still wants them. It's mind boggling that amazon doesn't make it happen.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2011 6:35:48 PM PDT
David says:
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Posted on Apr 13, 2011 6:48:28 PM PDT
C. Burkhart says:
I can get HD TV show streams. But HD Movie streams are not an option on PC.

Posted on Apr 15, 2011 5:05:08 AM PDT
As C. Burkhart said, they have HD streams for shows on the PC, but for some reason, even the movies that they do have available in HD for "compatible devices" the HD is not available on PC.

I also found out the hard way that the HD versions have to be bought/rented ON said device. I got a $5 credit for registering my samsung led tv with the amazon widget, and rented a movie through my pc, only to find out the movie was in sd and that i'd have to rent the hd specific version through the tv. So I ended up renting the movie on the computer for 3.99, only to have to rent the hd version for 4.99. amazon did refund the money i ended up spending.

Posted on Dec 7, 2011 5:16:30 AM PST
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Posted on Feb 3, 2012 4:41:34 PM PST
You are smarter than I am and all of these guys above:) In my opinion Amazon streaming video will never take off till they stop discriminating against PC users by denying them HD streams. Advertising HD TV streaming right on download screen just adds insult to the injury. BTW I have a Mac Mini hooked up to 4K JVC projector and 115 inch high gain screen in my living room, should I get rid of it and buy a "TV" just to watch HD?

It does not make sense. This must be a licensing problem, Amazon is too good a company to treat their customer this way.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 3:17:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 5, 2012 3:20:46 PM PDT
All I can say is fix it. I'm sure the real reason is that it would be easier to steal with a computer than one of their boxes. People are going to steal you can't stop it. They would make more money. I have a very nice computer that I spent a lot of money to make it my media center and gaming console. I don't want those other boxes I want the one I spent a bunch of money on (That is way more capable than any of those boxes) to do what it is designed to. It has nothing to do with bandwidth regardless of what they say. Feels like they are calling us stupid to me. IT IS ABSOLUTELY DISCRIMINATION! You have to BUY their equipment to watch a video you already have the ability to play.

Posted on Jun 6, 2012 5:57:15 PM PDT
J. Barilar says:
It's funny, I just wrote up a whole reasoning for explaining why they might not allow HD on PC's when I realized, there is none. Encryption is not an issue since they're using it anyway for SD and other devices. They've got a DRM vendor and the adaptive bitrate (ABR) clients on the devices/PC's (Silverlight I assume?) can do the key exchanges. Therefore, theft is not an issue either since all these other "devices" are simply small computers with internet capability and MPEG-2/4 decoders, running the same clients.

Then I thought maybe it's because PC's aren't standardized like Roku's, TV's, Blu-Rays for the hardware decoding capabilities. PC's can have a variety of hardware, these CE devices are standard and not able to be customized by the consumer. For example, you could have a terrible old PC that doesn't support 720p and above, but that would have to be almost a 10 year old PC that probably can barely launch a browser. But all you have to do is look at a competitor, Netflix. They stream based on bandwidth calculations alone on PC's. There's no hardware checking. If the bandwidth allows it, you get HD. Tough if your device (PC) can't handle it.

And it's not streaming capacity from a server side. You guys have one of the largest clouds out there. Streaming servers are getting cheaper by the day now that they can be virtualized on blades and pushed to the edge of the CDN for Just In Time encapsulation.

Maybe it is a legal issue, but if it is, Amazon's lawyers sure did a bad job negotiating with the content providers. Pay per view, tiered, whatever. It's usually always based on number of views. Frustrating for sure, I've been asking this question for over a year now. I'm glad this is coming up in discussion threads finally.

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 8:49:59 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 7, 2012 8:50:05 AM PDT]

Posted on Jun 22, 2012 5:25:34 PM PDT
Chris Scott says:
I dream of a day when we can get online streaming options that allow us access to any movie or TV show ever made at a reasonable subscription based or pay-per-view rate. I'm so tired of these arbitrary restrictions on streaming video. Hollywood thinks people will pay anything and do anything for their content. Maybe for some. But I've cut the cord on cable. And canceled Netflix. I just don't care anymore. I'll find other things to do besides watch TV or movies until things are sorted out!

Posted on Aug 13, 2012 11:34:48 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 13, 2012 11:39:37 AM PDT
ya, this is a dumb restriction, Youtube can do HD, is Amazon streaming development stuck in 2003? Buy a ruku lol, I don't want a ruku!

Posted on Sep 14, 2012 12:45:47 PM PDT
N.C. says:
There is a much more simple reason Amazon does not allow HD Streaming to the PC. Marketing. That's it folks. It's the marketing department.

Posted on Sep 14, 2012 6:02:41 PM PDT
My 2 cents Amazon, get on board and allow PC users to stream movies as well as TV in HD, ... please. I pay for Prime and I am disappointed that you are withholding HD Movies unless I want to buy more tech gadgets to play them. It seems kind of punitive.

Posted on Sep 15, 2012 10:13:07 AM PDT
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Posted on Sep 15, 2012 10:43:54 AM PDT
Yet browsers support the format... If they know why they aren't talking. Hopefully they'll have a solution soon.

Posted on Sep 16, 2012 6:14:10 PM PDT
Pro Bono says:
I'd add my voice to the list. It would be really great for Amazon PC customers to be able to see movies in HD. This _must_ be about licensing since TV episodes (eg Parks and Recreation) are available on PCs at HD resolution. I hope Amazon's crack negotiators get the PC HD movie rights soon --it's just silly to have PC movies rendered at useless resolutions.

Posted on Sep 17, 2012 1:45:55 PM PDT
I have a WD Player that cannot connect to Amazon streaming

a Xbox360 that cannot connect to amazon streaming ( without extra $$ per month)

and a PC that Amazon will not stream to in HD.

Will I be extending my Prime membership? no.

Posted on Sep 18, 2012 6:02:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2012 6:41:04 PM PDT
Revengeofbob says:
Currently in a chat with a customer service rep for the Video On Demand:

[Amazon Rep 1]:Jonathan are you referring to the Video on deman ?
Me:I believe so, yes
The free streaming that is available on some titles with the Amazon Prime membership.
[Amazon Rep 1]:A member of our Amazon Instant Video team will need to help you with this.
Please hold while I transfer you. One of our Amazon Instant Video Specialists will assist you shortly.
Me:thank you
A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.
You are now connected to [Amazon Rep 2] from
[Amazon Rep 2]:Hello Jonathan, we actually don't have a timeline for HD streaming on PCs. There are a lot of hurdles in getting HD content to PC due the risk of Piracy. I would certainly like to make that a reality soon, but unfortunately I haven't heard any talk of it yet.
Me:Have you or any of your coworkers replied to the thread on the forums concerning this?
It does not seem that there is any engagement on your end
[Amazon Rep 2]:No, we actually aren't allowed to post there.
Me:You are not allowed to reply to questions there?
[Amazon Rep 2]:No we're not.

So basically it comes down to a "piracy" issue, and apparently they are not allowed to respond to forum posts. So it doesn't look like we'll get any PC love anytime soon. They have no timeline so it doesn't look like the PC will get it anytime soon, especially since this issue has been around for over a year. If they were actively trying to solve the problem it wouldn't take a company like Amazon a year to create a solution, let alone a timeline...

Edit: Took out the names for privacy reasons.

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 10:27:48 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 27, 2012 11:03:22 PM PDT]

Posted on Sep 30, 2012 6:38:04 PM PDT
jnagy says:
Ugh, Comcast just made a sale because of this. At least I can expect an easy refund from Amazon for the HD movie I thought I'd be able to play.

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 3:08:56 AM PDT
Just adding my two cents. Used to have Prime a number of years ago. Signed up again yesterday to order some items and take advantage of streaming. Then I got the No HD streaming on PC message. Read further and see that the HD streaming on other devices is only 720p. So even if I wait until Amazon decides to let PC users stream HD, I still (probably) wouldn't get 1080p like I can on Netflix. And the piracy thing sounds like a crock. Seems more likely that they want to sell Kindles.

I think I'll see how much I order during my trial and then decide if it's worth my $$$. Probably not.

Extremely disappointed Amazon.

Posted on Oct 31, 2012 4:18:30 PM PDT
Rick/Elise says:
I am also a user with PC's hooked up to my TV's. This allows me to:
a) Save on rental fees of cable and dvr boxes. In addition, my dvr space is only limited by the size of the hard drive I hook up to it.
b) Have more flexibility. I can watch traditional TV, as well as shows available through a web browser.
c) Centralize my entertainment for wifey. I have Windows Media Center to watch TV, Netflix, pics, and listen to music - all from one central place.

More and more tech savvy folks are doing this. I am using HDHomerun Prime with a CableCard, and it works great.

Anyway, yes Amazon - can you please catchup to Netflix already!!! You have made some progress recently, but have some ways to go. Mainly:
a) allow users to watch movies in HD on their PC. It is allowed on Roku, Xbox, and other non-computers, but lets make it available through the PC please! For some reason, TV episodes are viewable in HD, but not movies.
b) fix your load issues. During primetime (~8-11pm East Coast), I experience many pauses (about 3 every 2 hours watched) when watching a show. The player (through the web) also does not recover - I have to refresh the page which is very annoying because I have to fetch the remote, toggle 'full-screen' mode, refresh the page, scroll and select the episode (if its a TV series), and click Play.
c) please provide a plugin to Windows Media Center. This shouldn't be too difficult, as the video streaming portion should already be there. You just need an interface to browse shows and start playing them.

(a) and (b) are most important. But c) would help to pickup market share (and I would end my netflix membership)

I imagine they are doing this because:
a. they thought that folks most folks don't need HD on PC or laptop, and they wanted to save on bandwidth.
b. they have some licensing agreements with the studios, specifically for movies (but not tv shows).

Netflix doesn't have any of these issues, and hasn't for a long time. Time to upgrade your video Amazon!
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Initial post:  Apr 9, 2011
Latest post:  Sep 21, 2013

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