Amazon Instant Video recently updated its Roku channel, improving the user interface that has been a source of many complaints. There is still no queue management feature, except for videos already purchased or rented, but the UI is a good improvement over the original version.
On launch, Amazon Instant Video users are presented with a choice of seven selections:
- Search - The search function is also accessible from any other Amazon VOD menu screen by pushing the * button on your Roku remote.
- Prime Instant Video - Browse titles that are free for Amazon Prime members. This option lists 300 titles each for Top Movies, Top TV, Recently Added Movies, Recently Added TV. You can also browse through 16 movie genres and 10 TV genres. Amazon currently offers over 10,000 videos free to Amazon Prime members.
- Movies - View New Releases, Top Movies, and Top HD Rentals, or browse through 19 movie genres. It's interesting to note that there are three more genres here than under the Prime movies option, but I haven't compared to see what's different.
- TV - Browse Latest Episodes, Top TV Shows, New Shows, Top HD Shows, TV Channels (A&E, ABC, AMC, BBC, Bravo, etc. - 21 channels in all), or by any of 18 genres. There is also a Free TV category that doesn't require a Prime membership to view.
- Your Video Library - If you've rented or purchased Amazon videos, you can access them here. I'd like to see Amazon provide the ability to also add videos to the library that you want to rent or purchase later, or add Prime videos for later viewing.
- Special Deals - If you're looking for a bargain, here you'll find 300 titles under $3 each, and 300 TV series under $15 per series. You'll also find Free Movies Extras, which includes movie trailers, "the making of..." videos, director interviews, and similar content that is often packaged with a DVD.
- Getting Started - This option provides text-based information screens on how to navigate through the Amazon Instant Video channel, how to rent or purchase videos, etc.
DVD artwork for videos are now shown in the newer grid format, instead of the previous format the required scrolling left and right. With as many as 300 titles per row, you'll still do plenty of scrolling, but at least the various categories are available by scrolling up and down instead of requiring a return to the menu. Along with the DVD artwork, the video's title and a short summary appear in a popup-style box for the highlighted video.
Amazon's Roku channel lists 300 videos per category, which is better than the Netflix limit of 50. However, that means that there are still a lot of available titles that aren't shown when browsing through the channels menu on Roku. And that also means there's a lot of scrolling to do. You may find it more convenient to look for videos on the Amazon Instant Video website. You can rent or purchase them there, then find them under the Your Video Library selection discussed above. For Prime videos, find a title online, then use the search function to bring it up on your Roku.
For more information on the Amazon Instant Video Roku channel, read the RokuGuide review by clicking on this link.