Amazon Prime Vs. Netflix Instant Video Streaming Service

Renting DVDs died along with blockbuster videos. In recent times, it's all about convenient video streaming over the Internet from the comfort of your home. In this Entertainism article, we pit two of the best video streaming services available on the Internet - Netflix Instant Video and Amazon Prime.
Entertainism Staff
Did You Know?
Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant Video, both work on the 'after-dvd-release' margin. Thus, only that content is made available on both sites which has been released on DVD first.

I am sure both pro-choice as well as pro-life people will agree that cutting the cord at one's home is perhaps the best way! Just think about it for a minute. Wouldn't freeing oneself from the autonomous tyranny of the local cable company bring with it the freedom of choice, while at the same time enrich the quality of one's life?

For those who are still confused, we are talking about getting rid of the cable TV service. Nowadays, the Internet provides us with many better options for our entertainment, and the best part about it is that you can choose exactly what you would like to watch. In the following lines, we compare two of the best online streaming facilities available presently, and help you decide which one to pick from between them. So get your soda and popcorn ready, and turn down the lights. We'll check out which is better through an Amazon Prime Vs. Netflix Instant Video comparison.

User Interface

User interface is the first thing you see when you open up any website and as we all know that the first impression can be the last.

The interface of Netflix is both clean as well as informative. Popular titles and categories are displayed in the form of tiles on the home-screen. It is very easy to search for titles on Netflix. For searching particular titles, you can use the embedded search option at the top of the web page, while for generic searches, you can take advantage of its unique title categorization. It has the usual sci-fi, action, adventure, etc., categories, but along with these, there are even some quirky and uniquely specific ones, such as 'goofy workplace tv comedies'. All these combined make searching for content on Netflix's website a joyous experience.

Overall, the interface is very user-friendly and simple to operate. Video quality is automatically adjusted according to the available bandwidth, which minimizes the effort on the user's side. The website offers both full-screen as well as embedded viewing capabilities. Both these modes are easy to operate, with all the video controls being available at the bottom of the screen.

Netflix also has another great feature - the ability to host multiple user profiles on a single account. This allows you to keep your preferences and the preferences of the rest of your family members separate, by making a separate user profile for each member.

Amazon Prime in relatively newer to the online streaming scene, and this fact is apparent by the amateurishness of its user interface. While its home-page displays movies and series in a tile-like format similar to that of Netflix, it lacks the cleanliness and clarity of the latter. One of the most stark omissions is the recently watched option, that makes navigating back to an interrupted show or movie a hassle.

The content on Amazon Prime is accessible through both specific-search or via the categorization. However, though helpful in most cases, the categorization fails to achieve the specificness that Netflix is able to deliver.

Where Amazon really falls short is clarity. It does not differentiate the content that is available for viewing readily from the one that requires you to pay extra. Although Amazon puts a small 'Prime' logo on the available content, the confusion is still retained, especially in the case of incomplete series. For example, you may start watching a series after seeing the 'Prime' logo', and after the nth episode, you might realize that for watching the n+1th episode, an extra premium is required. This truly diminishes the quality of user experience on their website.

The site does well in providing both full-screen as well embedded video viewing. However, it puts the burden of video quality selection suitable to the available bandwidth squarely on the viewer's shoulder. This coupled with the jerky nature of the animations on the website leaves a bad taste at the end.

While navigating through Amazon's website, one gets the impression that Amazon's focus is really divided into two. While they do focus on viewer experience, at least to some extent, they are also constantly trying to sell you the movie and TV series DVDs that are available at the Amazon store.

Site Content

Both Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant feature an abundant selection of movies and television series. However, the content of one might not satisfy the tastes of the audience of another.

Netflix Instant has an impressive collection of both movies as well as TV shows. Its database sports many popular TV series. Recently, they have even started offering a few TV show episodes one day after they have been broadcast. They also have a lot of the older shows, along with many exclusive and lesser known TV series. Honestly speaking, most lesser known shows are lesser known for one simple reason - they are garbage. But once in a while you might hit upon a diamond in the field of coal!

On the movie front, again, their database is considerable, but most of the content comprises older movies. Also, rarely will you find award-winning titles in the categories. Netflix's focus seems to mainly be on TV shows. On the brighter side though, Netflix is planning on showcasing exclusive feature films on its website, which its subscribers shall be able to view at the same time as the theatrical releases. The first in the line-up is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2: The Green Legend, which is slated for release in mid 2015.

Amazon Prime's database clearly indicates that their focus is more on movies. They have an impressive collection of movies available for streaming which have been released on DVD for some time. For more recent titles though, you would have to look into the Amazon store's DVD offering, which of course would cost you extra.

Amazon Prime also has a good collection of TV shows, albeit, it is nowhere near as impressive as Netfilx. But if you are ready to spend extra, the Amazon store can definitely provide you with the latest in TV entertainment. Your 'Amazon Prime unlimited subscription' will allow you to watch the episodes of your favorite new series as and when they are uploaded on Amazon. If you want to view the entire series, you can purchase the DVD box-set from their store, which they will mail to your address. Thus, Amazon certainly has all the content you may desire, but not in the exact form as you may imagine. Also, obtaining it certainly won't be cheap.

Supporting Devices

Netflix and Amazon both can run on a variety of different platforms and devices.

Netflix can run on Windows as well as Mac via the web browsers. It is compatible with various gaming devices, such as PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, etc. It can be viewed in select DVD players, like Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Apple, etc. It is even available on portable devices, such mobile phones and tablets running Android, Windows, or iOS, via their respective apps.

Amazon too can be run on several different devices. Similar to Netflix, on Windows and Mac, it can be accessed through their web browsers, while on mobile devices, through their respective applications. It even manages to top the competition by providing simultaneous streaming facilities on three different devices. This facility is available on PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, select blue-ray players, and home theater systems from Sony, Samsung, and LG.

Benefits and Pricing

Netflix has been in the online streaming business for a longer time than Amazon. They have a great selection of rare as well as exclusive series and movies. This includes some great titles, such as House of Cards 2, Arrested Development, and Orange is the New Black.

Recently, they have started offering content in both 1080p as well as 4K, which is sure to attract the attention of video-philes. Netflix also has a great kids selection of content, which can be the icing on the cake if you have kids at home.

With Amazon, it's not just about online streams. Sure, the website and user experience isn't as good as Netflix, but Amazon offers you something that Netflix just can't - 2 days free shipping on nearly all Amazon products. This is a great offer if you are a frequent shopper at Amazon. The free shipping service will save you enough bucks to literally repay the subscription fees that you shelled out to subscribe to Amazon Prime.

Also, the Amazon store is a complete store. So along with movies and TV series, you also get to buy the music of your choice. The latest offer on the site also allows you access to the Kindle Lending Library, where you can borrow books for your Kindle e-reader device. Thus, for frequent shoppers, Amazon seems to truly offer the complete package.

For subscribing to Netflix, you will be required to pay $8/month, or $116 a year. Amazon Prime streaming service can be availed along with all its offerings for $79/year; however, there is no provision for monthly payments. Meaning, to avail Amazon's services, you must pay for the entire year.

Thus, though Amazon is cheaper than Netflix, the requirement of payment for a full year's worth of subscription can be a dampener. However, you can get your money's worth in terms of the other services that Amazon bundles with its package.

Netflix, though costly, allows you to pay on a monthly basis, giving you the flexibility of stopping the service anytime you want.

Both Amazon Prime and Netflix can offer you the convenience of video streaming at home. Each of these services has its benefits as well as drawbacks, so as such, there are no winners and losers. Amazon is the better choice for those who are more into shopping from the Amazon store, while Netflix is the better video streaming service, albeit, a bit more pricey.