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TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney is blogging about the pinnacles and pitfalls facing viewers who want to consume television in new ways. Check in frequently as Daisy kicks the tires on the new media juggernaut and dishes on which services do -- and don’t -- make the cut.

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Trial and Error



Amazon UnBox -- UnVeiled

September 8, 2006 1:59 PM

After officially unveiling the worst kept secret in the online video business yesterday (See story at http://www.tvweek.com/news.cms?newsId=10693), I click onto Amazon.com this morning to put the new Amazon Unbox download-to-own service through the paces.

Right off the bat, I like what I see. Front and center on Amazon.com is a button for Amazon UnBox, promoting video downloads with an offer to try a free TV show download. Reporters can’t resist the word “free,” so I’m hooked.

I click through to a Web page with details on the service – categories on the left, a promotional video player in the center and a list for top sellers on the right. I start with the “friendly start guide” button to download the UnBox player. After 20 minutes of installation, a neat and clean interface for Amazon Unbox pops up on my computer screen.

I return to the store on the Amazon Web site. I opt for an episode of HGTV show since Amazon noted in its press release that UnBox features the first online downloads for HGTV content. As I am about to check out, I decide to search for a movie too. I look for a button to continue shopping but don’t see one. So I pound the back button a few times to back up to the video store screen. Nothing grabs me in the film department after all, but then I don’t spot an obvious link for “return to cart.”

So I return to the video store page and re-select the HGTV episode and check out. Within one minute I can start watching the show, though the entire download takes about 30 minutes. I go back to the Amazon UnBox player and click on the show, which starts immediately. Pause, play and fast forward work well. Amazon boasts DVD quality for the service the video looks pretty darn crisp. So UnBox has a lot of potential but needs better navigation.

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