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View Full Version : Apple TV vs. Amazon Unbox Selection




BoulderBum
Feb 20, 2008, 02:19 PM
I've never paid serious attention to Amazon Unbox because I still thought it was a technology to get rentals onto your PC only, but I recently discovered that you can get your downloads to your TV with a Tivo.

Amazon Unbox rentals are priced competitively with Apple, their interace is a little clunky compared to Apple, but looking at their video library they have a MUCH better selection:

http://www.amazon.com/b/?&node=16261631

Not only do they appear to have all the proud new titles that Apple TV has ("3:10 to Yuma", "Michael Clayton", etc.), but they also have tons of movies Apple doesn't, like "The Bourne Ultimatum".

I think Apple has digital downloads figured out a lot better than Amazon right now, but, I don't know, Amazon Unbox is starting to look kind of compelling. Hopefully Apple will get the selection they have sooner rather than later.



FreeState
Feb 20, 2008, 02:33 PM
I think Apple has digital downloads figured out a lot better than Amazon right now, but, I don't know, Amazon Unbox is starting to look kind of compelling. Hopefully Apple will get the selection they have sooner rather than later.

AppleTV has has had rentals for one week now. Unbox was released in September of 2006 - 1 1/2 years before AppleTV and your wonder why they have a higher selection of movies?

gkarris
Feb 20, 2008, 02:38 PM
I was one of the guinea pigs - I got a $10 rental credit for connecting my Tivo to my Amazon account.

It works great! I can rent from Amazon at work and when I get home, it's ready to watch. You can now also rent/buy directly from your Tivo (sorry, Apple is the one that copied this one).

Cons:

My older Tivo box, the Toshiba one with built-in DVD burner, can only do 480p.
Of course, you CANNOT save Unbox Downloads to DVD.
Same as Apple, 24 hours to watch. I don't recall how long you can have it on there.

I don't know about what kind of picture you get with the HD Tivo boxes. The pictures in 480p Letterbox is fine. Not anamorphic like a DVD player, though.

I'm currently renting a couple of movies on my AppleTV just to compare.

toddngina
Feb 20, 2008, 02:39 PM
Agreed. Amazon shows 3267 rentals available on a TiVo box. I would like to think that Apple has plans to catch up quickly, but I'll probably hold off buying an ATV until I see some positive movement in that direction. Adding one new rental a day to their current list of ~370 available just isn't going to cut it!

jeremy.king
Feb 20, 2008, 03:02 PM
I emailed Amazon today to see when they plan to offer HD rentals for Tivo on Unbox. I received a generic response. Anyone know of any plans by Amazon to offer HD? I just got my Tivo HD yesterday :(

Thank you for writing to us inquiring about the Amazon Unbox. I
sincerely apologize but it appears that we do not currently sell
this particular item in the Amazon Unbox store.

The availability of content through our Amazon Unbox service depends
on our agreements and arrangements with various content owners. We
are constantly working to establish and improve these agreements so
we can offer the largest range of content possible.

We do expand our selection frequently and want to know what titles
you'd like us to offer. You can submit product requests online. At
the bottom of the product detail page of most items on our web site,
you should see a blue feedback or suggestion box where you can
submit any requests for additional related products or features on
our site.

gkarris
Feb 20, 2008, 03:06 PM
I emailed Amazon today to see when they plan to offer HD rentals for Tivo on Unbox. I received a generic response. Anyone know of any plans by Amazon to offer HD? I just got my Tivo HD yesterday :(

I was wondering if you Tivo HD owners got HD content or not.

It may be up to the studios, and a matter of economics.

$30-$35 for the 1080p Blu-ray disc, or $4.99 for 720p rental download.

How many times will you really watch a movie in your lifetime? Worth it for movies you like to watch over and over, not-so-much for that movie that you may only watch a few times.

Looks like for now, the 720p rental is cheaper if you are going to only watch it a few times.

BoulderBum
Feb 20, 2008, 03:31 PM
It may be up to the studios, and a matter of economics.

$30-$35 for the 1080p Blu-ray disc, or $4.99 for 720p rental download.

Except Blockbuster and Netflix also have HD Blu-Ray rentals for about as much as Apple TV rentals. I don't think the movie industry is necessarily afraid of the rental market.

Agreed. Amazon shows 3267 rentals available on a TiVo box. I would like to think that Apple has plans to catch up quickly, but I'll probably hold off buying an ATV until I see some positive movement in that direction. Adding one new rental a day to their current list of ~370 available just isn't going to cut it!

You know, you bring up an interesting point. Apple promised 1000 movies available by the end of February, but they're not even close to keeping the pace they need to if they want to meet that goal.

toddngina
Feb 20, 2008, 04:16 PM
I've been wondering if they're holding off until this rumored end of the month Apple event, and then they'll tag on a big "Grand Opening" of the Apple rental store, and 700 more rentals will suddenly appear.

I would think the marketing deals the studios have with Amazon would also apply to Apple, or Netflix downloads for that matter, so one would think that in the end, the selection available on all should look pretty similar. One would think!

riekl
Feb 20, 2008, 04:23 PM
Er ..

Item | Apple TV | Tivo UnBox
-----------------------------------------------------
Movies Avail Today 1,300+ (not 370) 3,279
TV Shows Avail Today 4,000+ 943
HD Content Yes No
Instant Watch Yes No
Remote Ordering No Yes (Apple doesn't need it no benefit)
Sync (non-hd) to PC Yes No
Best Interface No Question Horrible

Bottom line .. no competition

riekl
Feb 20, 2008, 04:26 PM
I've been wondering if they're holding off until this rumored end of the month Apple event, and then they'll tag on a big "Grand Opening" of the Apple rental store, and 700 more rentals will suddenly appear.

I would think the marketing deals the studios have with Amazon would also apply to Apple, or Netflix downloads for that matter, so one would think that in the end, the selection available on all should look pretty similar. One would think!

Actually, Apple is the ONLY one with a deal with ALL the Major Studio's.

digduggler
Feb 20, 2008, 04:31 PM
Where does the 370 count come from? I only see 150 available when I do a power search for movie rentals.

Edit: Nevermind (more results -> more results = 150 + 150 + 82). So about 382.

riekl
Feb 20, 2008, 04:36 PM
Where does the 370 count come from? I only see 150 available when I do a power search for movie rentals.

Edit: Nevermind (more results -> more results = 150 + 150 + 82). So about 382.

Er .. in iTunes if you click on movie rentals, then all movie rentals you get 19 pages of 27 items / page = 500 rentals avail today. The other 800 in my 1300 are 'purchaseable'.

No idea where his 370 figure came from.

jeremy.king
Feb 20, 2008, 04:36 PM
Sync (non-hd) to PC Yes No

Actually if you mean from the Tivo to a PC/Mac - then this would be yes (TivoToGo).

And you failed to mention the lack of DVR capabilities of the Apple TV.

I like both. I own both. They both have their place in my setup.

FreeState
Feb 20, 2008, 04:37 PM
Where does the 370 count come from? I only see 150 available when I do a power search for movie rentals.

Edit: Nevermind (more results -> more results = 150 + 150 + 82). So about 382.

If you go to the movies section on iTunes there is a link on the left "All Rentals" that has 19 pages with 24 titles (7x3) on each page with the last page of the 19 having only 3 titles ((19*24)-21=435)....

That number does not account for any titles that are only available as HD rentals (if there are any).

riekl
Feb 20, 2008, 04:43 PM
Actually if you mean from the Tivo to a PC/Mac - then this would be yes (TivoToGo).

And you failed to mention the lack of DVR capabilities of the Apple TV.

I like both. I own both. They both have their place in my setup.

I didn't forget, we are talking about Apple TV vs Amazon Unbox/TivoHD of COURSE the Apple TV isn't a tuner/dvr you need both. I have 2 TivoHD's myself I LOVE Tivo. But Unbox sucks.

You can NOT sync Unbox movies with TTG sorry try again they are copy protected.

BTW Apparently its 21/page so the 370 figure now appears accurate :) Although there are over 1k other movies available for 'purchase' at this time.

toddngina
Feb 20, 2008, 04:55 PM
Well, no matter how you do the search for rentals (still less than 500, but my powersearch showed 382, go figure...), and the other attributes of ATV, in the end content will be king for the average consumer. I want a viable alternative to the rental store and even buying a blu-ray player, so I hope Apple has secret plans to put all those great deals they have with all the major studious to work soon, and give us thousands of rental options like they should be able to. If a studio Apple has a deal with has a flick available for download on Netflix, then it should also be available on ATV as well. I understand there may be some logistical constraints, like perhaps reencoding a bunch of flicks for Apple HD specs or what not, but I sure hope to see the vast library sooner than later! I'll reserve judgement until the end of the month, when we should have 1000 movies available for rent. If Apple fails to follow through on that promise, I'll continue to remain skeptical of their committment to being a real competitor here.

riekl
Feb 20, 2008, 05:03 PM
Well, no matter how you do the search for rentals (still less than 500, but my powersearch showed 382, go figure...), and the other attributes of ATV, in the end content will be king for the average consumer. I want a viable alternative to the rental store and even buying a blu-ray player, so I hope Apple has secret plans to put all those great deals they have with all the major studious to work soon, and give us thousands of rental options like they should be able to. If a studio Apple has a deal with has a flick available for download on Netflix, then it should also be available on ATV as well. I understand there may be some logistical constraints, like perhaps reencoding a bunch of flicks for Apple HD specs or what not, but I sure hope to see the vast library sooner than later! I'll reserve judgement until the end of the month, when we should have 1000 movies available for rent. If Apple fails to follow through on that promise, I'll continue to remain skeptical of their committment to being a real competitor here.


They've been open a week .. and already have 5x the Tv Show content of Unbox. They already provide you major features you can't get from Unbox (Instant Play, HD Movies, Trailers). The movie library is still in its infancy yes, but there is already enough content for most anyone to sit down and find a good movie to watch (instantly). Unbox can have 100k titles and if I have to wait 20-40 minutes before I can start watching it, its useless.

BoulderBum
Feb 20, 2008, 05:53 PM
I wondered if you had to download the whole Unbox movie before watching. That really does suck! That's not a very viable model.

illumin8
Feb 20, 2008, 05:56 PM
Ok, I have both a Tivo Series 3 HD (the THX certified one) and an AppleTV. I've also rented a few movies from both, and have an HDTV and a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound system, so I think I'm qualified to compare them pretty well.

Amazon Unbox currently has Apple beat on content (number of movies available), that's for sure. I can see this changing pretty fast, however, as Apple starts to add more movies.

That's about the only thing Amazon/Tivo has over Apple:


Amazon movies are encoded in very low bitrate MPEG2 with Stereo (prologic) sound. Apple beats them even on SD movies by using a superior H.264 codec and a decent bitrate. (I watched Chuck & Larry on Tivo and it looked like a bad Video CD rip, 15fps and terrible quality)
Amazon has NO HD whatsoever, even on a series 3 Tivo. The movies are all SD with stereo sound and that's all you get.
Amazon movies don't start downloading immediately. Your request to download gets queued up and starts downloading within 15 minutes. There is some automated job that checks every 15 minutes and starts downloading if you queued up a rental. The net effect is that you have to wait about 20-30 minutes before you can start watching... Even on an SD movie!
User interface is terrible and there is no way to watch a preview or trailer of the movie before downloading it. Sorry, even though it uses a Tivo-like interface, AppleTV has them beat on the interface.
Customer service is horrible. When I complained about the quality of Chuck & Larry (email only, no phone support), I was instructed to "redownload it because your download might be corrupted..." LAWL... After I tried that just to appease them and the quality was identical (it was encoded poorly, not a corrupted download), I was credited with a free rental... After wasting a few hours of my time.


These services are supposed to be convenient and have good quality. AppleTV has them beat on every aspect of the service, except for content at this point.

EricNau
Feb 21, 2008, 12:03 AM
Not only do they appear to have all the proud new titles that Apple TV has ("3:10 to Yuma", "Michael Clayton", etc.), but they also have tons of movies Apple doesn't, like "The Bourne Ultimatum".

As a side question, why doesn't Apple TV have The Bourne Ultimatum? ...It's produced by Universal, right?

digduggler
Feb 21, 2008, 08:40 AM
If you go to the movies section on iTunes there is a link on the left "All Rentals" that has 19 pages with 24 titles (7x3) on each page with the last page of the 19 having only 3 titles ((19*24)-21=435)....

That number does not account for any titles that are only available as HD rentals (if there are any).

Er, 7 x 3 = 21. As of yesterday I saw the count 381 (not including HD). I do not think there are any (as of yet) that are HD only (so those would be dupes).

digduggler
Feb 21, 2008, 08:45 AM
Ok, I have both a Tivo Series 3 HD (the THX certified one) and an AppleTV. I've also rented a few movies from both, and have an HDTV and a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound system, so I think I'm qualified to compare them pretty well.

Amazon Unbox currently has Apple beat on content (number of movies available), that's for sure. I can see this changing pretty fast, however, as Apple starts to add more movies.

That's about the only thing Amazon/Tivo has over Apple:


Amazon movies are encoded in very low bitrate MPEG2 with Stereo (prologic) sound. Apple beats them even on SD movies by using a superior H.264 codec and a decent bitrate. (I watched Chuck & Larry on Tivo and it looked like a bad Video CD rip, 15fps and terrible quality)
Amazon has NO HD whatsoever, even on a series 3 Tivo. The movies are all SD with stereo sound and that's all you get.
Amazon movies don't start downloading immediately. Your request to download gets queued up and starts downloading within 15 minutes. There is some automated job that checks every 15 minutes and starts downloading if you queued up a rental. The net effect is that you have to wait about 20-30 minutes before you can start watching... Even on an SD movie!
User interface is terrible and there is no way to watch a preview or trailer of the movie before downloading it. Sorry, even though it uses a Tivo-like interface, AppleTV has them beat on the interface.
Customer service is horrible. When I complained about the quality of Chuck & Larry (email only, no phone support), I was instructed to "redownload it because your download might be corrupted..." LAWL... After I tried that just to appease them and the quality was identical (it was encoded poorly, not a corrupted download), I was credited with a free rental... After wasting a few hours of my time.


These services are supposed to be convenient and have good quality. AppleTV has them beat on every aspect of the service, except for content at this point.

I've got a similar setup and have to agree with most of this. I actually have had good Unbox support (email) when a movie was set to be deleted with 5 days instead of 30 on download. The only thing I wish Apple TV had that Unbox does was online rental capability (for some this appears to not be an issue, but there is a lag on HD rentals for me) so it would be ready when I got home from work/etc. Otherwise, in terms of strictly a rental service Unbox can't touch Apple TV. Unbox is not horrendous by any means (it's certainly watchable on a Friday night when you don't want to trek out to the rental store), but the picture and audio quality are just not as good as Apple TV. Simply put, if I have a choice of either for a film I would always go with Apple TV.

But the catalog is pretty sparse right now. I don't see how (unless there is a Super Tuesday or something) they are going to get to the advertised 1000 movies by the end of the month at this point. Of course they advertised 2 weeks for take 2, and that took double that time. I have no doubts they will get there eventually, but we are an impatient lot ;)

*I do love my Series 3. I also love my apple tv. I'm making a strict comparison between the rental experience on apple tv vs Unbox.

TXCraig
Feb 21, 2008, 10:56 AM
Didn't Jobs stay "There will be thousands of video rentals to choose from by the end of Feb?"

I will have to look at the key note again. I also am not happy with the selection and think Apple is going to have to MORE then Amazon to come out as the clear winner in the space.

Amazon also has NBC / Bravo shows and we all know what happened to Apple and NBC. I hope that relationship can be repaired as there some show I would purchase via iTunes if it was there!

FreeState
Feb 21, 2008, 03:39 PM
Didn't Jobs stay "There will be thousands of video rentals to choose from by the end of Feb?"

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2008/01/15itunes.html


MACWORLD SAN FRANCISCO—January 15, 2008—Apple® today announced iTunes® Movie Rentals featuring movies from all the major movie studios including 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Lionsgate and New Line Cinema. Users can rent movies for as low as $2.99 and watch them on their Macs or PCs, all current generation iPods*, iPhone™ and Apple TV®. iTunes Movie Rentals launches today and will offer over 1,000 titles by the end of February, including over 100 titles in stunning high definition video with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound which users can rent directly from their widescreen TV using Apple TV. iTunes Movie Rentals are priced at $2.99 for library titles and $3.99 for new releases, and high definition versions are just one dollar more with library titles at $3.99 and new releases at $4.99.