Amazon Video on Demand leaves beta

Amazon's Video On Demand, which began beta testing in July, was officially released in its working form yesterday.

Movie, TV, and Web-exclusive content can now be streamed or downloaded using Amazon Video On Demand. While downloading still requires the Amazon Unbox Video Player, it does make purchased content available for later viewing on PCs, portable devices, as well as media center-connected Xbox 360s. Sony Bravia Internet Video Link and certain TiVo boxes will also enable customers to peruse and purchase Amazon Videos On Demand directly on their TVs.

Amazon claims its service is compatible with "popular Web browsers on Macs and PCs." Since the service's beta launch, several more browsers have been made available to the public in their own betas: namely Google Chrome, and mobile browser Skyfire. BetaNews tests this morning showed that Amazon Video On Demand works with these as well, with no unique plug-ins necessary.

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As a pay-per-view service, Amazon Video On Demand will compete with Apple TV, Vudu, Blockbuster, Movielink's soon-to-be released service, and Sony's Playstation Network video download service. The subscription-based video-on-demand realm is still ruled by Netflix, though that company's content is still lagging a bit behind in terms of volume.

Amazon's service currently has over 40,000 licensed movies and TV episodes ranging in price from 99ΒΆ to $3.99 for rentals (including a selection of free content), or 99ΒΆ to $14.99 for purchase. In video profiles, Amazon lists "Video Format Details" which include the estimated length of time for download on a 1.5 Mbps connection; whether the video is full-screen or letterbox; and whether audio is mono, stereo, or Dolby 5.1.

The service is currently only available in the US.

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