Amazon Instant Video and its Prime streaming service are now available on the Sony Playstation3 (via Joystiq). Quite a surprise as the scuttlebutt was that Amazon Instant Video was due next on the Xbox (you can already stream downloaded Amazon video from your PC to the Xbox). The move shows that Amazon is serious about winning the ecosystem battle especially in the living room. The availability on the PS3 is another sign that Amazon is not building a Kindle set top box. With over 17 million PS3s in the US according to NPD, the Amazon Instant Video service becomes more ubiquitous. This will better position Amazon’s all-you-can-watch Prime streaming service to better compete with Netflix. It also helps Amazon compete better with Apple for a la carte rentals and purchases of TV shows and movies. Apple just released a new version of its 1080P Apple TV streaming box.
Coinciding with the Playstation3 launch, Amazon is also making the first episodes of 100 different TV seasons available on their service for the next week. The offer does not require a subscription to Amazon Prime.
At first look, the Amazon Instant Video client on the Playstation3 is impressive. The client, which is a 19 MB download, is a fully featured Amazon client. The user interface is easy to use with large screen tiles highlighting different areas of content. The interface actually looks very similar to HBO GO on the Xbox. Content is available to stream in 720P and surround sound. Up to this point only the Roku and Sony Bravia devices supported surround sound from Amazon streaming. From what I can see, the PS3 is decoding the surround sound to PCM and its outputting 7.1 channels.
What’s unique to the PS3 implementation is the “Recently Watched” functionality. None of the other Amazon Instant Video clients I’ve used have this feature. You can also easily remove titles from the “Recently Watched” section. It’s especially handy if you are interrupted and need to finish watching later. Also, there’s a tile on the home screen that will conveniently display the next episode of a TV series you’ve just watched. Like other Amazon Instant Video devices, the PS3 also supports WhisperSync. It allows you to watch on one device such as the Kindle Fire and pick up where you left off on another like the PS3.
As this is a version 1.0 of the software, there are apt to be bugs. Sons of Anarchy and Doctor Who episodes have an annoying skip to the video. It appears that the pulldown isn’t being performed properly. When the TiVo plays the same content, it plays it at 24 frames per second. However, the problem wasn’t evident watching Lost or
Doctor Who. I really like this implementation of the Amazon Instant Video. After kicking the tires a bit more, I’ll let you know if it becomes my favorite Amazon Instant Video player for the living room.