Print 26 comment(s) - last by sdsdv10.. on Sep 11 at 4:19 PM

Rentals that don't download and movies that don't play
A client that constantly phones home and media that doesn't play greet some Amazon Unbox customers...

This week unveiled the company’s long anticipated video download service called ‘Unbox.’  The new movie download service mirrors other product already on the market such as Google video and MovieLink allowing users to purchase movies and TV shows as well as “rent” select movies. TV shows are priced at 1.99 per episode and movies average around 12.50 to purchase or 4.50 to rent.

The service has already been met with criticism from users due to Amazon’s proprietary client, which regularly phones home. Furthermore, the service's absurd license agreement gives the company complete control over the content that you’ve purchased, allowing the company to revoke your permission to view your content and delete it from your computer without warning.

DailyTech tried the service with less than pleasant results. First we tried to rent a video from the store, but the software insisted that our hard drive was full even though it also indicated that we had over 40GB free.  The client refused to download the content while still charging us for the rental… twice. We then tried purchasing a movie through the service, but the media refused to play in the Unbox client or through Windows Media Player, again charging our credit card. We then contacted about our issues via e-mail and requested the company call us using the call back feature.  It has been 36 hours and we have yet to hear from the company or receive a refund.

Apple is expected to unveil an update to its popular iTunes music store that will also allow users to purchase movies through the service on September 12th at a special event held in San Francisco.

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uhh, testing?
By joust on 9/10/2006 6:12:19 PM , Rating: 5
You would think they would test their products before launching them. Argh... I hate the half-baked crapware many companies foist upon us.

RE: uhh, testing?
By feelingshorter on 9/10/2006 8:44:47 PM , Rating: 3
Seriously, how can they release something and not have it work like that? How many people have already wasted their money AND time?

RE: uhh, testing?
By Burning Bridges on 9/11/2006 12:58:33 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, if it worked for BF2 ...

RE: uhh, testing?
By sdsdv10 on 9/11/2006 4:19:52 PM , Rating: 2
I also tried the service and had none of the problems listed here. I downloaded and installed the client and purchased a free South Park episode (cost $1.99 with $1.99 instant rebate). It took ~20minutes to download completely and started playing after ~5min (it completed the download while playing). Everything worked perfect for me. Others on have had the same experience. Not sure what happened with the Daily Tech attempt. It's not all bad...

Now about the phoning home, that is entirely a different story. It certainly isn't unexpected based on pervious DRM issues, but is still unwelcome. A person on another blog was able to use FairUse4WM to strip off the DRM, so it still might be interesting...

new comment look...
By Xavian on 9/10/2006 6:25:51 PM , Rating: 2
Liking the new comment look, especiallt rhe ability to collapse comments and auto-collapsed negative rated comments :)

RE: new comment look...
By Visk on 9/10/2006 7:02:57 PM , Rating: 1
It looks pretty cool

RE: new comment look...
By Josh7289 on 9/10/2006 8:35:59 PM , Rating: 1
Haven't read the article, but this new comment look definitely pwns.

RE: new comment look...
By Kromis on 9/10/2006 11:24:47 PM , Rating: 2
Hell yeah!

RE: new comment look...
By pepsimax2k on 9/11/06, Rating: 0
Similar Experience
By shoRunner on 9/10/2006 7:41:25 PM , Rating: 2
I had a similar experience with unbox, went to get my free TV show, but once downloaded wouldn't play, tried reinstalling client but to no avail...I can see this being yet another unused service because of crazy DRM requirements, unnecessary bloat, and getting a less useful product than just going and buying the actual dvd from the store.

RE: Similar Experience
By haris on 9/10/2006 8:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
Have you checked to see if the install is giving you any problems like this:

Personally I think the service is way over priced when you can purchase the same DVDs on their own site for about the same price new. The Matrix was just the first movie I looked at to compare prices.

What a joke. I get to pay roughly the same price, don't get the actual DVD, and I have to wait for how many hours for it to download a whole DVD/boxed set? Meh, no thx

RE: Similar Experience
By shoRunner on 9/11/2006 3:08:41 AM , Rating: 2
never tried draggin the slider...but it really wasn't worth it...too bloated, too much calling home, too much restriction. The only service that will really take off is one that will give you the same freedoms you'd have if you bought the dvd in the store.

Video/Audio Quality?
By Fenixgoon on 9/10/2006 7:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
How's the playback quality one their TV shows and movies?

RE: Video/Audio Quality?
By Tim Thorpe on 9/10/2006 9:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
We're wondering the same thing, we never actually got the software to play back our purchased content.

By bobsmith1492 on 9/10/2006 9:07:33 PM , Rating: 2
Eh, what the hey... I could just go rent it from the store for 2 bucks and it would actually work....

RE: ...
By JeffDM on 9/11/2006 1:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
And it will work on many more devices to boot. Portable DVD players are available with much larger screens, cheaper, than portable hard drive video players.

What I'd require from an online movie store
By psychobriggsy on 9/11/2006 6:15:04 AM , Rating: 2
1) At least near DVD quality video

2) The ability to burn a DVD of the downloaded movie onto DVD that I can play in a normal DVD player.

The DRM can limit the number of burns of a movie I make which seems fair, e.g., 3 burns. That'd make up for the cost a little, because I could burn a copy for my parents.

Certainly there should not be the possibility of withdrawing the ability to watch a film that I've paid money to own. Once I've purchased it, I don't want the film to mysteriously disappear one day in the future because some movie company has decided it doesn't like the service I bought it from.

I'd also like the ability to refactor the content into something suitable for my personal portable media player device. Limiting the playback to the computer that I've downloaded it to makes the service pretty much worthless to me compared to the physical DVD I can buy instead.

I guess that Apple will meet the above requirements with their movie service to a more satisfactory degree. I'll still be buying physical DVDs though, I like them on my shelf.

By Master Kenobi on 9/11/2006 9:25:44 AM , Rating: 2
Problem we are having here is not the guys trying to deploy this delivery system, its the movie companies.

If the movie companies make it a practical and cheaper alternative to traditional buying a DVD from the store then we run into a few problems.

1- The resellers that get their cut from selling the movies face stiff competition. This reduces profit because there is an alternative method which takes them completely out of the loop. There is also no way they can compete with this delivery system in a brick and mortar world.

2- The movie producers and promoters that get a nice cut for selling movies in brick and mortar environment have to accept less as online delivery cuts cost of having to produce the physical media, it also cuts the profit margin.

3- This angers the physical media makers, who get much less business, resulting in them possibly raising prices on producing physical media to make up for defecits.

Now this probably doesn't affect the actual movie makers much, but you need to remember, all the way from the Movie Studio down to the Best Buy or WalMart reseller, there are contracts and licensing agreements in place, if they were to make online distribution a cheap and practical alternative you can bet the court battle would be massive with class action suits galore.

Sorry folks but this isn't likely to happen in the near future because well there are too many people with a reason to drag their heels and threaten legal action.

By NuroMancer on 9/11/2006 11:03:37 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder, if Steam/Valve could capitalize on a market like this. They offer a fairly secure platform, offline mode, re-download, etc.

RE: Steam/Valve
By spwrozek on 9/11/2006 11:44:49 AM , Rating: 2
That is why I like Steam. I reformat and can dL the content again. I can make a new computer and Bam it is there. I can even get on a friends and have my stuff.

I think DLing a movie is stupid, you can rent it and burn it for cheaper or go to walmart and actually own it for the same price.

ideas like this....
By SLEEPER5555 on 9/10/2006 6:16:40 PM , Rating: 2
have so much potential but these companies always seem to be able to screw em up.

By iSHADE on 9/10/2006 6:33:27 PM , Rating: 2
I love how I was only just able to figure out how to register now xD
Nice comment improvemetns though :)
But the Amazon software seems dissapointing..

By fliguy84 on 9/10/2006 8:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
This is bad, I'm was interested in this service :(

Too high price
By i2mfan on 9/10/2006 9:35:43 PM , Rating: 2
Again, the price is too high considering the competition vs other means legal( or illegal) plus with DRM. I do give a "A" for the effort.

I do understand they want to protect their rights but they should be more agressive in their pricing model.

Take The Matrix: $9.98. I can buy it for less on DVD(with extra) and in canadian money. They should ask $5.00 and keep the DRM in that case. At least the unbox is 5.1 audio.

$2.00 a show: Common, it can be downloaded(illegaly) and be played on a DVD player(DivX) and got no DRM.

$1.00 would be great with 5.1 sound or higher resolution.

Until they do understand that stiff competition is here, it won't work. And that's for all companies in that market.

People will buy if the price vs quality is right. iTune is a good example even with DRM.(I'm not a fan)

HD crash? New Computer?
By Lifted on 9/10/2006 10:18:12 PM , Rating: 2
I feel sorry for all of the people who Amazon and the movie studios are going to rob as one day these people will wonder why they can't download and play the videos on their new computer. Suppose their hard drive crashes and they have to reinstall 2000 or XP, or even decide to try out Vista. Anyone think those movies they paid for will play on that same computer with a new/different OS? I'd venture to say no, unless they have some Microsoft style deal where you have to call them to "prove" you're are installing on the same computer. After reading about this failed launch, I really doubt they have thought that far ahead.

By davesdynamite on 9/11/2006 1:25:52 AM , Rating: 2
I installed the client first, then looked over alot of the content before selecting 'Firefly', Episode 11 (which from the forum I found is actually the first to watch in the TV series). I wish my internet connection was faster (700-800kbps just barely meets the Unbox requirements), but it's coming down fine. I was able to start watching the video after a couple hours and it will be downloaded completely in 1 more hour.

I think that the Amazon version being 'dvd-quality' (3x the quality of MovieLink/CinemaNow), is part of the reason why it takes so long. Just like the 'ebook' format, it's nice to have options and be able to sit at home and pull down any content I want from the convenience of home. Cheers!

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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