“Amazon.com’s Unbox is a horror show. The Unbox service appears not so much to have been introduced as to have escaped from the laboratory,” Peter Lewis reports for Fortune.
Lewis reports, “Of all the smart and talented people at Amazon, did no one dare say, ‘Wait, our new service bites! It’s slower than a trip to Blockbuster, more expensive than a DVD, absurdly restrictive on how the consumer uses the movie, delivers lower resolution than a DVD, and requires running a cable from the PC to the TV if you want to watch the movie on something larger than a PC monitor?'”
“Unbox works only with Microsoft (Charts) Windows computers. Amazon says the recommended configuration is a Windows XP computer with 1GB of system memory, a 2.4-gigahertz or faster processor, a 5.1-channel sound card, a DirectX-compliant video card, and a broadband connection capable of sustaining download speeds of 1.5 kilobits per second. You’ll have to set up an Amazon.com account if you don’t have one already, then download and install the Amazon Unbox Video Player and other software to be able to use the movie download service,” Lewis reports. “Assuming you pass those Unbox requirements, the real unfun begins.”
Lewis reports, “Unlike Apple, which tried to establish uniform prices for digital movie downloads, Amazon appears to allow the studios to set pricing. Here are some examples:
• “Office Space” is $13.45.
• “The Matrix” is $9.77.
• “V for Vendetta” is $13.87.
• “Brokeback Mountain” is $14.99.
• “Rebel Without a Cause” is $23.99.
Lewis reports, “By the way, while I could download the James Dean classic “Rebel Without a Cause” from Unbox for $23.99, Amazon also offers to sell it to me as a special 2-volume DVD set, which includes extra documentaries and features, for $19.99.”
Lewis reports, “None of the navigation controls on the Unbox Video Player worked, other than “pause” and “stop.” I could not select scenes, fast-forward, reverse or do anything but play the movie start to finish… And then there’s ‘Plays for Sure.’ The Unbox download service actually delivers two files to the computer, one that plays on a computer (although only in the Unbox Video Player), and a second, smaller file that will play on a small variety of Windows “Plays for Sure” portable media players, not including, of course, the most popular one. (It ‘Will Not Play for Sure’ on the Apple iPod.) Plays for Sure is Microsoft’s tag for devices that support Microsoft’s digital rights management scheme. But Amazon seems less sure. According to the Amazon notes, ‘If your device is Plays for Sure compliant it may work.'”
Full review, a funny read unless you’re responsible for the hideous thing, here.
These reviews are Microsoftian in scope. Amazon, Undo.
Amazon Unbox generates resounding yawns; analyst: ‘too little too early’ – September 11, 2006
CNET Alpha Blog: absolutely do not try Amazon Unbox – September 09, 2006
Analyst: ‘Amazon Unbox – Well that didn’t work at all’ – September 09, 2006
Analysts: Amazon’s ‘Unbox’ to be ‘Unsuccessful’ vs. Apple – September 08, 2006
Cringely: Apple, Amazon, and what Steve Jobs has up his sleeve for next Tuesday – September 08, 2006
Amazon.com launches ‘Amazon Unbox’ DVD-quality video download service with TV shows and movies – September 07, 2006