Amazon Prime Streaming – Another Netflix Alternative for Linux?

Amazon announced this week that Prime users would now have access to a pool of free content to stream instantly from the video-on-demand portion of their website.

While the content might not be the latest and greatest blockbuster movies and shows, it is a substantial amount of content and worthy to be considered a viable contender for the streaming market. Take a look at the Netflix instant content pool. It’s pretty substantial now, but it still does not contain the latest movies (which are home rental only for the most part). Also consider that when Netflix instant started it was a rather meager offering of mostly meh content. Given such, it might be a sign of possible things to come for Amazon streaming.

Prime being a $79 a year opt-in might seem steep. If you are already a prime member, then it’s a moot point or better, further validates your spending $79 a year so you can get that video game on release date for free or so you can get that $10 paperback second day without having to pay the sub-$25 shipping penalty. If you aren’t a prime member, this seems like a great time to jump in. Along with awesome shipping, you can now stream movies and television instantly as well.

Still not sold? Here’s the cool part for us linux (or *BSD, etc) guys and girls: streaming is system independent, and so far seems to also be browser independent. Can you view Flash? Then you should be ready to roll watching Amazon’s instant content.

Now with Hulu (and Hulu-desktop) and Amazon instant being friends of an operating system independent approach, will that push Netflix along to allow all of us paying customers with Linux to utilize the instant features? Or will Netflix keep it’s head buried in the sand and stay cozy with Microsoft? Remember when we thought Flash was so evil, well looks like Silverlight has trumped that by leaps and bounds.

Before ending, I’ll make a quick note on performance. As of now, streaming is around 480p (supposedly). I’ve tested it out on two media PCs both running linux; Fedora setup connected to a 50″ plasma via HDMI and an Xubuntu setup connected to a 32″ CRT via s-video. Both setups streamed very nicely, and while it obviously isn’t in HD, even on the 50″ television, the quality was just fine. The big positive performance point (sorry) was that there was not a single buffer wait, stutter, or hiccup in the stream. Granted, this isn’t a very scientific comparison, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the power of Amazon shining through in the technical side of the streaming business. I mean they already figured out a nice way to stream content without sleeping with Microsoft to keep the bad guys from ripping content. [Update: There are HD options available. The Best of NOVA #6 and Yellowstone are both offered in an HD version and looked and streamed great.]

Prime member? Check it out. Not a Prime member? Seems like  a great time to join in, especially if you are a frequent Amazon shopper.