Tags Posts tagged with "Amazon Instant Video"

Amazon Instant Video

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Amazon instant video is one of the most popular video streaming services in the country. At last check it was second behind Netflix. Now how many people have the instant video service simply because they signed up for Prime for shipping and books, the company does not say. But regardless a consistent criticism of Apple TV has been that it does not have an Amazon Instant Video app. The thing is though that anybody with an iPhone 4s, iPad 4 or a number of iPhones can easily watch Amazon prime content on their Apple TV. This is because Apple TV supports AirPlay. With AirPlay users can launch virtually any app and watch it on TV. This is what the Chromecast was trying to copy in the first place. See the video for instructions on this method and learn how to watch Amazon Instant Video on Apple TV.

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This article is an update from a previous story published on the Streaming Advisor in September 2013. To see the original piece click here.

Not just Speculation

Amazon has  a press event scheduled for Wednesday in NYC. And it looks as though the device in going to be called the Firetube. We found pretty convincing evidence this Saturday with pictures to prove it. To see that story click here The story on Fire Tube has been hot since an Amazon filing during the fall. The company has also made a number of moves in the past year indicating something big on the horizon. This should come as no surprise as it is a natural follow up to news in 2012 when Amazon began recruiting for development of a new product . The statement contained this very telling passage.

“We are working on a new revolutionary V1 product that will allow us to deliver Digital Media to our customers in new ways and disrupt the current marketplace. We believe this new product will be even bigger than Kindle.”

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The Amazon rumor mill is in full swing again. According to re/code citing un named sources Amazon may be set to release its long rumored set top box in March.  There are few verifiable details to report on concerning the announcement. There has also been no official statement from Amazon. While there are no details as to the possible features of the device The Streaming Advisor published a speculative story in October 2013 on a possible Amazon set top box. To see our take click here.

The Streaming Advisor will continue to monitor this story.

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Ryan Michael Downey

The Apple TV is a very capable set top streaming device offering a majority of the most popular Apple TV Screenstreaming apps including PBS Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus HBO-GO and Watch ESPN. But owners of compatible IOS products have access to two features that other Apple TV owners do not. Those features are AirPlay and Mirroring. The two features are very similar. In fact AirPlay and Mirroring are constantly mixed up in reviews and product descriptions. This article will hash out the differences between the two features.

What is AirPlay?
AirPlay is a proprietary video and audio protocol that allows users to send audio and video from IOS devices to their apple TV’s. This feature can also be accessed from an iTunes client installed on a windows computer. AirPlay is only compatible with certain apps, though there are many. If an app or web based video is compatible with air play a small symbol will appear on the bottom of the said video content that can be touched or in the case of using an Apple laptop, clicked. Once the AirPlay icon has been clicked or pressed the video will pop on to the TV screen provided that the Apple TV HDMI video is option is selected. AirPlay will transfer any compatible video to the Apple TV with full screen HD quality video and audio. This protocol leads the industry. We know this because as other methods for transferring video from mobile devices have arrived on the seen they are described as “Like Airplay” or Possible ‘AirPlay” killers. Have you heard anybody say that Apple TV is a more app laden and expensive version of the Google Chromecast?

AirPlay also integrates with some of the games available through the IOS mobile app store. Compatible games take advantage of the screen of a mobile device by adding fun controller functions to the screen of the device which add to the experience on the screen. For instance a compatible jet fighter game may turn an iPad into the control panel of a jet cockpit while the TV screen displays the game action itself minus the control panel. Apple is yet to fully realize the potential of this feature.

What Is Mirroring?
Screen mirroring is the full projection of a devices screen on to a TV screen using the Apple TV as a receiver. When mirroring is activated the TV essentially appears to be a monitor for the device it is mirroring but will not disable the display on the IOS device itself. Both The TV Screen and the mobile device or computer will “mirror” the other. One of the best features of mirroring is that it allows users to see full internet pages on their televisions. Unlike mobile browsers embedded in to Blu-ray players and Android based systems using mirroring and a television for browsing means that your browser is just as easy to use on a TV as it is on your device and it comes with a keyboard. This means that compatible Apple laptop users can head to Hulu.com to access the computer only version of the service and watch the latest episodes of their favorite shows without using a monthly subscription. Mirroring will allow users to view any Internet content that can be viewed on their devices on their TV screens, so this means that its capabilities are only limited by the imagination of the users. Mirroring is also helpful for apps that are not AirPlay compatible.

Use Mirroring For Presentations
The App Store is filled with many wonderful presentation software programs that when paired with an Apple TV make it perfect for meetings, teaching aids and any given project that looks better on a big screen. This gives the presenter an easy to manipulate controller for the presentation and a smooth reliable operating system to work with. Just make sure that the Apple TV is on a given network before trying to use it.

Slide Shows
Another helpful function of mirroring is that it is an easy way to display pictures from devices. While certainly not an everyday need it is a good tool to have at the right time, anniversary parties, birthdays. Holidays etc.

Where the Lines Blur
Sometimes during a visit to a website using mirroring a video will have an option to view in full screen. And when the said video selected in full screen mode is compatible with AirPlay the protocol will essentially take over. This is common when YouTube Videos are embedded on a webpage for instance.  The difference between the two experiences is  that when an app is utilizing airplay it is not necessary to keep the said app open in order to view content, while on the other hand closing the webpage or app that is being mirrored will stop the video or other content that is being viewed and display whatever is currently the device.

Either Way the Consumer Wins
The great thing about both AirPlay and Mirroring for Apple product owners is that the capabilities greatly expand the offerings available to Apple TV owners. While Apple TV has been feverishly adding apps over the past year there are many holes in its offerings.  For instance as mentioned earlier Amazon Instant Video is not included as an app on Apple TV, but the IOS app is AirPlay compatible so therefore available on Apple TV. In fact outside parties even bank on users accessing mirroring. Recent commercials for the newest sling box have been advertising “Watch with your Roku and Apple TV”. While there is a Sling box app for Roku none exists for Apple TV.  In short, any IOS mobile device owner as well as those with a shiny new mac laptop are missing out until they learn how to utilize AirPlay and Mirroring with their Apple TV. Happy Streaming!

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Netflix
Netflix is the king of video channels. The app is on nearly every video steaming platform and was the first channel available on Roku. The app features thousands of movies, TV shows and documentaries. For less than $8.00 a month Netflix adds a days of entertainment and power/binge watching

Hulu Plus
Hulu Plus has the largest collection of legal first run TV Show content on the net and this app brings the service to Roku. Hulu Plus also offers an extensive collection of movies from multiple studios. Important note, while Hulu has a free Internet based service available via computers Hulu Plus is the only version available for Roku users without using a separate server. For an article on how to add access to the free version of Hulu click here.

Amazon Instant Video
Amazon Instant video is a strong entry for Roku owners especially those who are Amazon Prime members. Prime membership which costs $79.00 offers numerous perks for members including free shipping, use of the Amazon E-Book lending library and in the case of connected device users access to thousands of movies, TV Shows and documentaries. The channel also offers on demand viewing options for access to more first run content.

Plex
Plex is a channel that utilizes a separate server that must be downloaded on to a computer in order to run in concert with the Roku channel. The Plex channel offers a separate menu of audio and visual apps in that some cases mirrors channels from the official Roku channel store. Other stations available for Plex cannot be found anywhere else. Plex is also one of few channels that will allow users to play their own digital content on the streaming box. 

Watch ESPN
Watch ESPN is the official app from the most well-known sports network in the United States. In order to utilize the channel you must have access to an ESPN account through a participating provider. The channel features live feeds from all of ESPN’s channels but in order to view them the user must have access via subscription. Also included is ESPN 3 the Internet based service from ESPN which features major college football and basketball along with a selection of international sports from Olympic style sports to soccer, international basketball, and others.  A great addition that can make any Roku connected TV in to an outright sports hub.

Flixter
Roku users can use Flixter to see movie trailers from upcoming movies as well as movies no longer in the theater. For years people have said that the previews were their favorite part of the movie theater experience along with popcorn of course. Flixter brings that experience to your home theater.

PBS
The official Roku Channel from The Public Broadcasting System features  full length feature programming from TV shows airing on PBS and a large collection of classic PBS shows such as The Woodwright. Current programming is not available long term but the app is a great way to catch up on all of the top shows within a week or two of their air date. Don’t wait too long though to tune in for Downton Abbey or you will be stuck waiting till it is available on Amazon further down the line. The channel can also be linked to the local PBS station for a given area in order to access programming tailored for a given region.

HBO-GO
HBO-Go is a digital offering from the Time Warner owned movie and television network that brings a huge library of its original television from Arliss to Oz as well as its original movies from throughout the years along with a large rotation of feature films from HBO’s studio partners. In order to access HBO-Go, users must have access to a cable subscription password.  

Crackle
Crackle is a free service owned by Sony Pictures that provides access to many well-known feature films, TV shows and original content. The selections are broken down by category and easy to search. Like a number of major free services the features are add supported.

Snag Films
If mainstream films and television shows begin to feel too predictable or stayed Snag Films may be just the solution. This free channel is graced by a large collection of independent and art house movies. It is a great alternative to the many louder Hollywood style movies available on other services.

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Hiring Patterns Beginning to Match Up

Not just Speculation
Amazon may be looking at joining the set top device market. Whether it is the name of a new product or service Internet retailer recently patented the name  Fire Tube . The company has also made a number of moves in the past year indicating something big on the horizon. This should come as no surprise as it is a natural follow up to news in 2012 when Amazon began recruiting for development of a new product . The statement contained this very telling passage.

“We are working on a new revolutionary V1 product that will allow us to deliver Digital Media to our customers in new ways and disrupt the current marketplace. We believe this new product will be even bigger than Kindle.”

Could the spate of game developer hires and other murmurs be linked to this patent?  When this  information is coupled with reports that Intel is reaching out to Amazon as a partner for its proposed internet based television service it appears that something significant is about to happen.

Right Timing
Will Amazon debut a new product this year? There is no telling if an Amazon based streaming box will be unleashed this fall but when the company does jump in to the market it will be at the right time to make the biggest splash. It will be ready to ship out quickly to its base of Amazon Prime customers. It will be the first real game changer in the market. The product will get major press and Amazon is unlikely to make the same mistake as Google did with its sloppy roll out of the Chromecast. Right now the number one selling (DMR) AKA streaming device on the market is Apple’s Apple TV. There has to this point been more than 12 million sold. Roku, its closest rival in the category, has sold over 5 million units and is aggressively expanding into Europe. Google has entered the fray with it dongle device the Google Chromecast as well as a number of products that run the Google TV platform. But a sleeping giant is about to awaken. And when it emerges the whole market may be in for a major shakeup. The reasons for this are numerous.

Unique Force in the Marketplace
Amazon has a very different way of making money than other tech companies, media distributors, or retailers. This is because of its unique position as a retailer that produces high end media products that in turn encourages its customers to purchase completely unrelated products. Most technology based companies make money from the sales of their physical products, units sold. For instance Samsung makes money based on selling cell phones to carriers, branded TV’s, blue-ray players and the like. Retailers on the other hand make money when people come walking in to their stores and walk out with products. For stores like Best Buy that means that they profit by selling Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets and its E-Readers. But on the other hand as Jeff Bezos was recently quoted during his announcement for the newest Kindle Fires saying, “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices,”

What does he mean by that?
Amazon makes money every time someone buys a 99 cent app for the Kindle Fire. Amazon makes money each time someone at a coffee shop killing time buys an episode of a recently aired show from Amazon  Video on demand. Amazon is no different than Apple in that regard. Its iTunes Store and App Store are set up in a similar way. But Amazon can create capitol in a completely different way. By encouraging customers to utilize Amazon Prime. On the surface, Amazon Prime membership appears to be a service that saves its subscribers money by providing free shipping, use of the free lending library for its E-books as well as access to a large library of television shows and movies along with its coming original content. This means that when Christmas rolls around and all of the Big Box retailers are advertising the Kindle Fire and E-Readers to entice customers to come early on Black Friday what they are doing is inviting customers to buy everything else for the holiday season from someone else. The company always gives away a free month of Prime membership with the Kindle Fire. So now if someone needs new cords for that TV from Target the hardware can be purchased right from Amazon with free shipping. What is the hot toy this year? One click buying means that you can have it at your home packaged and ready to go in two days. Would you like to fight traffic at the mall instead? The Prime program is like an incentive card that you need never have a key chain addition for. And its tablets are a mobile store that you can access anywhere that you reach the Internet. On top of that Amazon does have an incentive based credit card program with its Amazon branded Visa card. The card earns costumers points that can be used to purchase products from….Amazon of course. This is a company with not only its own ecosystem but its own gravity. Its sales strategy is so disruptive to traditional big box stores that some have stopped carrying the Kindle Fire.

What to Expect while we are Anticipating
When it gets in to the DMR game it is going to have a very well thought out strategy and it will be set up to make a profit. There will certainly be a way to shop for everything Amazon sells. Expect integrated video reviews of many of the top selling products on the site right at your fingertips. Expect to be able to listen to Amazon’s audio books with on screen X-Ray integration. Movies and TV shows from Amazon Instant will be an obvious feature and users should expect IMDB integration along with it in the least. The company has a new feature which allows those using Amazon Instant Video service to find info about music in a given movie and of course purchase it. This will certainly be a feature in the new device.

Performance and Hardware
It will likely be a high performing device with a top of the line processor that puts most others to shame. If the hardware of the Kindle Fire HDX is any indication then whatever is the top of the line processor used in the set top platform at that point will be matched or exceeded by Amazon. The company has advanced metrics on what the public is looking for in set top devices and a library of reviews on all of the devices on the market whether they have a Google TV format, Apple TV, Roku and even the Android based machines. While they will definitely do their due diligence on customer needs the public has already told Amazon what they like and dislike about all of their potential competitors.

Gaming
Amazon may even find a way to integrate Android gaming. Multiple reports including USA Today have said that Amazon will be selling a dedicated game console but I have a feeling that the game info is being floated because it is going to be integrated with a streamer. The OUYA valiantly tried to open this market as an Android gaming console but it has yet to catch on. Why would Amazon try and integrate games into its streaming device? Because it will be another revenue stream and reports indicate that the device will come with a dedicated controller. But if the system happens to allow console emulators or advanced games a second controller with more options than what is included might be nice. I wonder if there is anywhere to order one? See how this works?

Third Party Integration?
It will have the sorts of capabilities Roku Customers and maybe even Apple customers have always hoped for. Expect it to integrate seamlessly with the Kindle Fire in a similar fashion to how Apple products integrate with the Apple TV. It should be seen as a major shot across the bow that the new kindle Fire is Miracast capable. Expect Miracast integration not to be limited to the Kindle Fire but there will likely be features that are only fully accessible with its products just as an added incentive to purchase their own hardware. Expect the device to integrate Discovery And Launch Protocol (DIAL) which is the same technology used in the Google Chromecast and soon the Roku. This is the protocol that allows tablets and cell phones to seamlessly “Cast” Netflix and YouTube via the Chromecast. This kind of integration will benefit Amazon if its competitor, Google pulls the same game with Amazon as it has with Roku, basically barring its competition from using YouTube, the most recognized source for streaming content in the world. I would expect that Amazon will also have numerous partnerships with companies to allow for multiple video apps.

Cost
The kindle Fire is sold at most at a break-even price and you should expect any streaming device to be sold the same way. This is done so that people can easily be pulled into that sales vortex. Right now regardless of the quality of the competition various versions of the Kindle Fire make up 12 of the top 20 sellers on Amazon, though you can be sure that will change when the new iPads debut. Apple, the worldwide leader in tablet sales occupies 3 of the top 20 spots, likely because so many apple customers buy their products from other sources including Apple Stores, numerous retail locations and their own website.

Who What Where When
We can already answer who. What Where and when still remains a speculation game. What can be said with near certainty though is that an Amazon streaming product whether it is a dongle like the Chromecast or a set top box like the Roku product line and Apple TV will likely be a compelling and dynamic addition to the marketplace. The Streaming Advisor will keep a close watch on this story as it continues to develop.

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