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Amazon Instant Video is the newer service out of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, but it's worth considering for people who either already have Amazon Prime membership, or people who order a lot of items online and would like a Netflix replacement.

Why a Netflix Replacement? 

Amazon Instant Video, while pretty robust in both the TV and movie selection has a lot of overlap with Netflix. This stems from the fact that each streaming company has to negotiate with each studio for what rates they'll pay, what will be available, etc. It seems that Hulu is willing to pay for exclusive content - paying for shows and movies on the condition that Netflix and Amazon won't be able to show them - while Netflix and Amazon are seem to be simply trying to get as much content as possible for a reasonable rate. This results in similar content between the two, with Hulu (and Hulu Plus) showing a lot of different content.

Then Why Would I Use Amazon over Netflix?

First, while it's possible to watch Amazon Instant Video without Amazon Prime, you'll end up paying per episode/season/movie. This just isn't worth it compared to watching free content with Amazon Prime, so we'll compare Instant with Prime to a streaming Netflix plan.

Amazon Prime clocks in typically at $79.00/year after a free month trial, or about $6.58/month. It has less content that is free for Amazon Prime members than Netflix, but you get free 2-day shipping on eligible orders on the site, as well as a free Kindle book checkout per month. If you have a Kindle, order often from Amazon, or want to replace Netflix for any reason this is a great option and costs less than Netflix. If you factor in paid movies and shows, the selection is larger than Netflix, and you could consider spending that $16.92 you'll save per year to buy a few brand new movies. Amazon Instant Video requires a flash player, so while they've made an app for iPad, iPhones can not watch. PC, internet TVs, most tablets, Kindle Fire, Android phones, and iPad can.

Netflix costs $7.99/month for unlimited streaming, also after a free month. It has a wide selection covered within that price, and there are no special paid movies or shows like on Amazon. They don't always update incredibly fast, so if the last batch of new shows don't interest you, it can get a little boring trying to find something to watch (whereas at least you could pay for something on Amazon).

How To Watch Amazon Instant Video

  • Phone

On your flash-capable phone (not iPhone), all you need to do is make sure you have Flash Player 11 installed, and log in to the site on the phone. At the very bottom there is a button to "View Full Site" instead of the mobile version, click that. Then it's the same as watching on PC below. You can also check for an Amazon Instant Video app in your phone's app store and log in with your Amazon Prime account.

  • Tablet

There are two ways to watch stream from Amazon on your tablet. First, log into your app store and search for "Amazon Instant Video". iPads, Kindle Fires, and some others will have an app to install, log into your Amazon account, and enjoy.

If there isn't an app for your specific tablet, you can still watch Amazon Instant Videos as long as your tablet supports flash. Just make sure you have Flash Player 11 installed, make sure you're on the full web version of (click "View Full Site" if you're in Mobile View), and follow the PC directions below.

  • PC

To the left of the Search bar on Amazon, there's a pull-down menu to search "All Departments", "Appliances", "Books", etc., but now there's a pull-down item for "Amazon Instant Video". Select that, and click "Go" with nothing in the search bar to get to the instant video section.

In the bar on the left side of the site, there is a check box labelled "Prime eligible", check that and it will filter by videos that are free with Amazon prime. Also on the left you can select a genre, actors, minimum number of review stars, etc., just make sure the "Prime eligible" checkbox stays checked so it's the free stuff. There are also subgenres that show up on the left after you select a genre; for example you can browse Action - Martial Arts - 4 stars and up to narrow down your search.

Tip: If you end up on a page without the "Prime Eligible" checkbox to the left, you can always click "Go" in the search bar with "Amazon Instant Video" selected to get back to this page and look for free videos.

  • Xbox

Watching Amazon Videos on an Xbox 360 is quite a bit different than on PC, but the setup is definitely worth it as many people end up using it as the only thing they use their Xbox for! Amazon has written up a helpful guide to getting set up on the Xbox360 (link) which will guide you through the process.

Simply go to the "Apps" tab and search for "Amazon Instant Video" in the Marketplace. Let the app download, open it from the "Video" tab, and log in to your Amazon account. Go to the "Prime Movies" and "Prime TV Shows" pages within the app to browse through the free content for Prime members.

  • PS3

Setting up Amazon Instant Videos on a PS3 is a little bit more complicated than on the Xbox because you'll need to enter a code to activate your account. Fortunately Amazon also posted a helpful guide to setting it up on your PS3 (link).

You'll start by downloading the app from the Marketplace and opening it. There will be a button to "Register your device" which displays a code to enter onto the website. Write that code down, or open the Amazon page from your smartphone/table in front of the TV - then go to this site to enter the code (link)

After it is entered once you won't have to do it again, and you'll be able to watch videos on your PS3. Go to the "Prime Instant Videos" page in the app for the free Amazon Prime TV shows and movies.

  • Internet TV

If your TV is listed here, you can click the link to enter the registration code to activate Amazon Instant Video on your device. You'll need to download the Amazon Instant Video app from your device's marketplace/app store, and get a prompt to enter the 5 digit code on the Amazon site.

Looking for new releases

Update: We just found that you can use CanIStreamIt to find new releases and search more easily through Amazon Instant Video materials. Go here:

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