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Once you have set up your home media system, you can start watching Amazon content. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you get access to thousands of free movies and tv shows. Amazon Prime does not give you free access to every video. The Amazon Prime selection leaves much to be desired, but the subscription entitles you to free 2-day shipping on all Amazon products. The video is an added perk. The free shipping is the product. If you don’t subscribe to Prime, you can still purchase shows a la carte or watch some content for free. Amazon’s original pilots and select shows offer one free episode for each series.
First, go to the Amazon website. Next, hover over Departments and then Amazon Video.
You can select any of the video categories from the Amazon Video panel. “Included with Prime” displays videos that are available with your Amazon Prime membership. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime membership, you can watch free videos by selecting “Free to Watch”. You can also purchase or rent videos a la carte.
Once you have selected a video to watch, follow the directions in this tutorial to start playback on your Apple TV. With this setup, you can use your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to control your PC or Mac. If you have a notebook computer, it is not necessary to use Splashtop for iOS. Simply use AirParrot or AirPlay screen mirroring, if your Mac supports it. Windows PC users can use AirParrot to enable AirPlay screen mirroring.
I wouldn’t advise renting or buying a movie from Amazon and playing it with this setup. It won’t look as good as iTunes and the costs are similar. It’s an adequate solution if you have an Amazon Prime membership.
Amazon should really try to get on board with Apple TV. Over 25 million Apple TVs have been sold and the platform is starting to gain traction. Amazon’s strategy is to promote their own TV appliances. In fact, they no longer sell Apple TV or Chromecast.
Amazon now offers a few TV appliances. These are a perfect fit for customers who are vested in the Amazon ecosystem. In fact, Amazon beat Apple to market with a TV appliance that could run apps. Apple still doesn’t have an Apple TV capable of running 4K video resolution.
On the low-end, Amazon offers the Fire TV Stick. It’s similar to Google’s Chromecast, however, it comes with a remote control and can be operated without a tablet or smartphone. At $39.99, it’s a great deal for anyone who wants to access Amazon content. It also runs over 4000 content channels and apps, including Netflix, Hulu and HBO GO. For an extra $10, customers can upgrade to the voice remote. This provides voice control and access to Amazon’s personal digital assistant, Alexa.
The Fire TV box is Amazon’s high-end offering. At $99 the price is reasonable when compared to Apple TV 4 ($149 – $199). It offers some features that go beyond Apple TV 4, including support for 4K video and USB storage. Fire TV provides access to Alexa, Amazon’s personal digital assistant. There are various bundles for the Fire TV box, including a gaming edition and HD antenna bundle.
Google’s Chromecast is also a great alternative for anyone who wants an inexpensive way to stream media. You need a tablet, smartphone or computer to control Chromecast, but who doesn’t have one of these? Using the Google Cast extension, it’s even possible to play Amazon Video content on Chromecast. Chromecast is, by far, the least expensive video streaming option available. At $35 for the second generation model, its price can’t be beat.
I doubt people steeped in the Apple ecosystem will be swayed to adopt another TV appliance. Many of us bought Apple TV for features like AirPlay and iTunes Home Sharing. With Universal Apps, a lot of apps purchased on Apple TV can also be used on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. An Amazon set-top box will not integrate with Apple products. That said, Amazon offers compelling and feature-rich TV appliances for a low price. They are highly rated by customers. If you’re not an Apple household, Amazon’s TV appliances are great options for cord-cutters and those who want to supplement cable with streaming video. I also advise checking out Google’s Chromecast.
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