Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Amazon Video on Demand goes high-def

Amazon's online video will now be available in HD on a variety of devices, including TiVo DVRs and Roku's Digital Video Player.

John Falcone Senior Editorial Director, Shopping
John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
Expertise Over 20 years experience in electronics and gadget reviews and analysis, and consumer shopping advice Credentials
  • Self-taught tinkerer, informal IT and gadget consultant to friends and family (with several self-built gaming PCs under his belt)
John Falcone
2 min read
Roku Digital Video Player screenshot with Amazon VOD HD
Amazon Video on Demand HD, as it appears on the Roku Digital Video Player Roku/Amazon

It's been a long time in coming, but Amazon Video on Demand is finally available in high-def. Owners of TiVo HD/Series 3 DVRs, the Roku Digital Video Player, the Sony Bravia Internet Video Link, and Panasonic VieraCast TVs (and, presumably, VieraCast-enabled Blu-ray players) will be the first to enjoy Amazon's content in HD (software updates to enable HD viewing on those products should be available imminently). Likewise, Windows and Mac users will also get access to HD video content via Amazon's Web site.

As with competing services, HD movie rentals will cost $3.99 to $4.99, and TV episodes will be available for purchase for $2.99 each (HD movie purchases currently won't be available). More than 500 HD movies and TV shows will be available initially, encompassing content from most major studios, including Warner, Sony Pictures, MGM, Paramount, and Universal. TiVo is pledging that the "vast majority of titles" on its boxes will offer Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtracks.

CNET was able to get a sneak preview of the Amazon HD offerings on the Roku box last week. For existing users, it's a pretty seamless upgrade: new HD-specific filters for HD movies and TV shows are available, so there's no need to go hunting and pecking for high-def content.

Quality on the Roku box was very good--the 720p video is closer to that of a really good DVD, but it's definitely superior to the standard-definition content that's available. We didn't detect any major difference between the quality of Netflix and the Amazon HD offerings on the Roku, but the Amazon interface allows you to choose rentals or purchases directly from the onscreen interface, whereas Netflix requires you to manage your viewing queue via a PC.