Amazon has just launched their online video ordering system, and it looks pretty slick - though, unfortunately, it's available to US-based customers only, so I can't actually order any videos. Prices are about what I'd expect: $1.99 for one-hour TV shows such as 24 (with a 20% discount for buying the whole season) and full-length movies range in price from $9.99 to $14.99. That seems a bit high to me, though the price is offset by the fact that the purchase price includes two versions: one DVD-quality download for playback on a PC, and one mobile-ready version for playback on a portable video device. Both downloads seem to be WMV and use Microsoft DRM, so iPods won't be compatible.
Amazon has an impressive array of TV channels, including A&E, Adult Swim, Animal Planet, BBC, The Biography Channel, Cartoon Network, CBS, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, E!, Fine Living, FOX, FX, MTV and others. Movie studios that have signed on so far: 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros.
Supported mobile devices include the Creative Zen Vision: M, Creative Zen Vision, Toshiba Gigabeat S, Archos AV 500, Archos AV 700 and the iRiver PMC (Portable Media Center). No word on other supported mobile devices, but given that PlaysForSure support is required, I'm inclined to think that Windows Mobile 5 devices will also work, but seeing as I can't order a movie, I have no way of testing this. Someone care to give it a try? Once the DRM authentication happens, Windows Media Player should offer to transcode the video file is necessary.
The whole thing centres around the Amazon Unbox Video Player, a Windows-based software application that serves as the central point for movie ordering and transfers. Unfortunately, this service does not allow DVD burning in a format that a DVD player can read. There's no mention of a Windows Media Center Edition 2005 plugin either, so I think the "TV" portion of this offering is a bit ridiculous. What do you think of what Amazon is offering? Is it compelling enough for you to try? They're offering a $1.99 rebate on your first purchase, so if you're in the USA, go grab a free TV show!