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Amazon Prime Instant Video and the Instant Video Shop have been available in Germany since 26 February. What Amazon’s own company Lovfilme used to offer in Germany has now been fully integrated into Amazon Prime. The digital offer was expanded in the course of the conversion and Lovefilm now only functions as a DVD/Blu-ray mail order company.

In the USA, streaming services have become indispensable, and whether it’s smart TV, tablet or PC – hardly anyone can avoid Netflix, Amazon.com and co. But can Amazon prevail over its German competitors like Watchever, Maxdome or SkySnap? Last month I tested Amazon Prime Instant Video extensively. My experience report is based on a mid-range laptop, a normal desktop PC and a Samsung Smart-TV.

Getting started

Amazon Prime Instant Video can be played on many devices. These include Fire HD, iPhone, iPad, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, many smart TVs, Blu-ray players from Samsung or Sony and of course the PC and Mac. The operation is very easy to handle: For Smart-TV you have to download an app which is easy to use and for the PC or Laptop you only need a small download. Steaming Amazon Prime Instant Video works like many of the popular video platforms out there. On Android devices, however, the streaming service is not yet officially available – too bad!

The Samsung Smart TV Menu from Amazon Prime Instant Video

The selection and menu navigation is also comprehensible and after a few clicks you can understand the system behind it. The technology as well as the handling of Amazon’s new streaming service are very successful at first glance.

The costs

While the old Amazon Prime cost 24 euros a year – and thus 2 euros a month – the price for Amazon Prime Instant Video has practically doubled. Today, the service with integrated streaming costs 49 euros per year by default, which is around 4 euros per month. (also possible monthly for 7,99 Euro)

One must not forget here that the free and discounted shipping, which Amazon Prime originally stood for, is still valid: Thus the standard shipping, which is otherwise only free from 20 euros and otherwise costs three euros, is always free. But the most interesting thing is probably the premium shipping, which means a delivery on the next working day and otherwise costs six euros and is still free at Amazon Prime. If you place a few orders a year with Amazon, the membership has been worthwhile for this reason alone.

Calculated on a monthly basis, the four euros are an extremely low price. But what about the offer?

Amazon Prime Instant Video promises 12,000 films and series episodes at the start and it quickly becomes clear at a glance that series episodes account for the largest proportion of these. The total number of films and series included in the subscription consists of a rather small number of 1749 films and 820 series.

More choice in the chargeable shop

Because you have to make a distinction in the offer: In addition to Amazon Prime Instant Video, there is also the Instant Video Shop, which offers a much larger and more attractive range.

The new DVD and Blu-ray releases – with a few exceptions, of course – can only be found there. Films such as Gravity, Catching Fire, Ender’s Game or Thor: The Dark Kingdom are not to be found at Amazon Instant Prime, but in the shop. In this respect, it must be clear to everyone that the offer is large at first glance – but most of the blockbusters are not (yet) included. The Instant Video Shop is available to everyone and Prime Instant Video can be understood as the free offer and perhaps also as a kind of lure. Once you’ve made friends with the principle and streaming, you’ll certainly make the decision to leave one or two euros in the Instant Shop sooner. The prices range from €2.99 for an SD version of a standard film to €4.99 for the HD version of current Blu-ray/DVD releases.

Nevertheless, it can be said that Amazon Instant Prime, with its almost 1700 films and 820 series, has provided a versatile and exciting offer. So I discovered and also saw some films that I probably wouldn’t have seen or borrowed from the video store. But Amazon has to see to it that they are constantly expanding the offer and also include more blockbusters in the offer. At some point you have most films through and through.

What could be better?

The quality is extremely good and most films are available in SD as well as HD. But since I’m not blessed with the fastest Internet, I wanted a “buffering” function. It’s currently not clear how many MB or minutes the stream pre-stores to compensate for any fluctuations in Internet performance. Because it sometimes happens that the movie jumps back and forth between SD and HD more often when the Internet performance breaks down – which unfortunately happens to me every now and then. But this only applies to my Smart-TV.

What is particularly disturbing, however, is the fact that individual titles are only included in Amazon Prime Instant Video for a certain period of time. This is probably due to the fact that the offer is constantly changing. However, the problem is that you don’t get any notification if a title is soon no longer included in the subscription. This is especially annoying if you have set up a comprehensive watchlist, but don’t check it constantly and then after a few weeks find out that the film is either about to expire or is no longer available at all. It might be interesting for the people at Amazon, but not for the relaxed film viewer, to have in mind to check one’s watchlist if something is going to happen soon and to check it. An option that warns you by mail that movies are running could and should help here!

In general, the offer for the subscription price is absolutely okay. But if you go to the USA and look at Amazon Instant Prime, you will immediately notice that the offer in the subscription as well as in the Instant Shop is much bigger there. Some films are offered there as “On Demand” at the same time as the movie starts. It is also certain, however, that streaming in Germany is still in its infancy – despite the ever-increasing number of providers. Services like Netflix, which have many customers and even produce very successful series of their own, are not – yet – within sight in Germany.

Currently, Amazon Instant Prime also seems to be struggling with other start-up difficulties. For example, in some series/gradues individual episodes are currently not available, which of course greatly limits the enjoyment of series production. Titles also disappear completely or are suddenly no longer available due to copyright issues. There are corresponding threads in the Amazon forum.

Conclusion

With Amazon’s new streaming service, not everything is running smoothly and the offer is definitely expandable. Nevertheless Amazon Prime Instant Video is interesting for loyal Amazon customers as well as for people who haven’t gotten in touch with many streaming services yet and are satisfied with a relatively small selection. Big series and film freaks will probably stay with Neflix and co. and wait until the German providers follow suit. But Amazon has one thing ahead of all other streaming providers: an unbeatable annual price!

For my part, I will continue to use Amazon Prime Instant Video extensively over the next few months and then decide at the extension in September whether I will continue to use the service. But the chances are not bad, because the experiences so far have been mostly positive!