Online retail giant Amazon shifted into the video streaming market in 2011, and went global with the service in late 2016. Here's what you need to know to watch in Australia.
Long before Netflix launched in Australia and even before video streaming was even a thing, Australians looking for a bargain on the latest DVD movies would often head to Amazon to try and get a better price. And while that still happens, the rise of streaming platforms has changed the way Australians consume their entertainment.
Amazon wasn't oblivious to the benefits of streaming. As far back as 2006, Amazon offered video rental and download services like iTunes, but in 2011 it launched Amazon Prime Instant Video in the US, a streaming platform offering a huge range of content to customers of its $99/year Amazon Prime service.
But it wasn't until December 2016 that Amazon's streaming efforts really became relevant for Australians. Timed around the launch of the spiritual Top Gear successor The Grand Tour, Amazon took Prime Video global to 200 countries around the world, including Australia.
While global licensing arrangements meant that the lineup of content at launch was not as extensive as Netflix or Stan, Amazon's publicly announced significant investment in original series, which will be delivered exclusively via the Prime Video platform.
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How much does Amazon Prime Video cost in Australia?
There was plenty of discussion around how much Amazon Prime Video might cost when it went global late in 2016. Fortunately for Australians, Amazon has decided to be rather aggressive with its pricing strategy for its streaming video platform.
The service will generally set you back US$5.99 per month, but for the first six months, Amazon is offering full access for just $US2.99 per month. It also has a free trial offer, although the trial is only for seven days, instead of the month that most other platforms provide.
You can register for your free trial with your Amazon account, which will be automatically charged at the end of the seven-day trial. It's worth noting that unlike other streaming platforms, Amazon charges in US dollars, so you're likely to be charged a foreign transaction fee from your financial institution every month in addition to the currency converted price.
What devices are compatible with Amazon Prime Video?
The fact Amazon Prime Video has been active in some international markets for years before its global launch means that there's a solid lineup of devices you can use to access the service. In addition to the standard web browser, there are dedicated apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
For iOS you'll need to be running iOS 7 or above, while Android users will need Android 4.0 or above. Being that Amazon also plays in the hardware space, it's not surprising to learn that its range of Amazon Fire tablets also support Prime Video streaming.
Despite the fact that Amazon does have dedicated apps for video game consoles in the US, game consoles aren't currently supported in Australia. You can access the service via popular LG and Samsung Smart TVs though if you own them.
Also slightly disappointing is the lack of an Apple TV app. If you do want the big screen experience for Amazon Prime Video in Australia, you'll need to ensure you own one of the compatible LG or Samsung Smart TVs.
There's also no native support for Chromecast. You can cast your screen to the big screen on Android devices, but native support is much better for your mobile's battery life.
Still, it's still early days for Prime Video's global expansion, so it wouldn't be surprising to find the compatible device list improve consistently over time.
How much data will Amazon Prime Video use?
Amazon's streaming app has a pretty robust range of streaming quality settings in its mobile applications, although the settings are different depending on the device you use.
On Android, you can only get a standard definition video stream. The best quality setting will use about 460MB for one hour of content, while the data conscious can be miserly by selecting the Data Saver option, which uses about 140MB per hour of streaming. You also have the option of always using the Best quality setting when connected to Wi-Fi.
iOS users, meanwhile, will use a lot more data streaming Prime Video. The best quality setting for Apple devices will use 5.8GB per hour, while the good setting still manages to chew through double the data of its Android counterpart at 600MB per hour.
Here's a breakdown of the approximate data use for an hour's worth of streaming across the operating systems and quality settings:
Amazon does also allow users to download videos for offline viewing, with files taking up about the same amount of space on your device as the streaming settings.
You can change the quality setting at any time on your mobile device by heading into the settings menu and choosing the streaming and download quality within the app. As with streaming, the amount of storage you can expect a file to take up caries between iOS and Android devices. Here are the numbers provided by Amazon within the iOS and Android apps:
As with all the other streaming services though, those rates are indicative. If you are streaming and your connection can't deliver the best quality stream, it will adapt to give you the best quality it can under the conditions, capped at the setting you've chosen.
Amazon Prime Video frequently asked questions
Q: Do I need a separate account for video to my Kindle?
A: No, you sign in with your Amazon account and everything is the same. If you've already set up your billing details, Amazon will just use those so you don't need to enter credit card details again.
Q: How much content is available on Prime Video?
A: The list is constantly updating, and so far Amazon's library is smaller than that of Netflix and Stan in Australia. We've compiled a list of movies and TV shows available on Prime though.
Q: Am I charged in AUD or USD with Amazon Prime Video?
A: Currently, Amazon is charging Australian subscribers in US dollars. You don't need a foreign credit card or account to pay though.
Q: How many devices can watch Prime Video at once?
A: Amazon lets you stream on three different devices simultaneously.
Q: Can I watch in 4K?
A: Prime Video does offer 4K streams for compatible 4K Smart TVs. Generally speaking, if you bought a 4K TV from LG or Samsung in the last year or so, you should be fine, but it's worth checking if your new TV has an app before purchasing any new 4K panel.