We Go Hands-On With Amazon Prime Instant Video, and Here's What's Changed

By Gerald Lynch on at

Lovefilm Instant is dead, today replaced by Amazon Prime Instant Video, the online retail giant's revised movie and TV streaming service. As it turns out, you'd be forgiven for failing to notice that there's been any update at all.

As Amazon promised, the transition has been completely painless, just requiring that existing Lovefilm Instant users associate their accounts with their Amazon ones instead. I've been playing with the revamped service's Xbox One, iPad and iPhone apps, as well as the browser edition, and very little has changed. It seems simply that Lovefilm assets have been swapped out for Amazon Instant Video ones, and categories renamed "Prime Movies", "Prime TV Shows", and "Prime Kids Zone". Even the Xbox One's Kinect voice commands are already integrated, letting you navigate by calling out these new menu names.

The only notable addition is that of the "Your Video Library" hub. It's here that premium content, such as brand new releases and the latest TV shows can be viewed, at a standalone fee on top of your Amazon Prime Instant Video subscription.

If there's one annoyance then, it's that the new video rental and purchase options aren't built into any of the apps directly. Instead, those purchases must be made through the Amazon.co.uk website before being sent to the Your Video Library hub on each version of the service. Though I can't speak for how difficult it would be to combine the two from an engineering point of view, as a viewer it's an extra step that would prevent a lazy-bones like myself from splashing the extra cash.

As for the price of these digital rentals and purchases, for new film releases you're looking at £4.49/£3.49 for HD and SD rentals respectively, and £13.99 and £10.99 for high and standard definition ownership. TV show purchases cost £2.49 or £1.89 per episode, dependant on resolution, while older standard definition films can be bought for as little as £3.99.

So, business as usual for the most part then when it comes to the video offering. The real changes then lay with the new pricing structures and Prime-based add ons. While you can get Amazon Prime Instant Video as an individual service for £5.99 a month (giving access to 15,000 movies and TV shows, but obviously not including the newer stuff that requires a purchase or rental), for £79 a year you also get free one-day delivery from Amazon.co.uk and 500,000 eBooks to borrow on Kindle devices through the Kindle Owners Lending Library. It's worth noting too that if you previously used Lovefilm's DVD and rental service, that subscription will continue uninterrupted -- it's just all handled through Amazon.co.uk instead now.

Together, these services combined make up Amazon's new Amazon Prime offering. Despite Prime being more expensive at £79 a year compared to its former £49 price point, the new package is still a 35 per cent saving over the individual annual costs of the older Lovefilm Instant and Amazon Prime services combined. Current Prime subscribers get all the new video stuff gratis as part of their £49 plans, but next time that subscription is up for renewal, £79 will be required. That's a bummer for those that just wanted to take advantage of the delivery service, but overall it's still a good deal.