Online retailer Amazon.com is bringing new competition to the high-definition video rental market with Video On Demand HD service, which gives users the option to rent more than 500 HD TV shows and movies. Customers can view the HD content on their televisions through set-top devices including the Roku digital video player, TiVo Series3, HD, and HD XL DVRs, and the Sony Bravia Internet Video Link.
"Our customers have been asking us for two things: HD and the ability to watch movies and TV shows instantly on their television," said Amazon's vice president of music and video Bill Carr. "We plan to continue making it easier than ever for customers to instantly enjoy their favorite TV shows and movies in HD from the comfort of their living rooms."
Amazon also announced Panasonic's Viera Cast-enabled HDTV lineup to the number of televisions and devices supported by Amazon Video On Demand. Starting today, the company's entire Video On Demand library of 40,000 titles, plus HD titles, are also available on Panasonic Viera Cast-enabled HDTVs. No computer or extra software is required, although you must register with Amazon.com to use the service.
Merwan Mereby, Panasonic's vice president of new business development, said they view the association as another step in providing the "ultimate entertainment experience" for consumers. Mereby hailed Amazon as a pioneer in transforming in-home movie entertainment.
"Both Panasonic and Amazon are extremely consumer centric and this functionality will provide the consumer with a myriad of entertainment choices-consumer[s] will have access to a vast selection of movie and TV entertainment at their finger tips with just a click of a button," Mereby said. "It's fitting that Panasonic and Amazon have joined creative forces to create this unique entertainment vehicle."
Customers can rent HD movies for $3.99 to $4.99, and users can also purchase and watch HD TV shows online on Macs or PCs, through compatible devices, or download them to their PC for offline viewing for $2.99. Amazon is opting for an ??Ã la carte business model, as compared to Netflix's subscription-based service. Some of the featured content Amazon is highlighting includes the Oscar-nominated film Frost/Nixon and popular TV glop like "Gossip Girl."
Along with Panasonic HDTV connectivity, Amazon is also highlighting the service's compatibility with Roku, a Saratoga, Calif.-based company which released a set-top device in 2008 that streams video content from Netflix's catalogue of video. The Linux-powered device costs $99 and provides unlimited access to Netflix's, and now Amazon's, streaming catalog.
"The addition of Amazon's HD offerings to the Roku digital video player is a tremendous enhancement for our customers," said Roku's vice president of consumer products Tim Twerdahl. "The combination of Amazon Video On Demand and the $99 Roku player is an incredible value to customers."