The fact that Amazon's Instant Video service—which, while no Netflix, is starting to catch up—is just thrown in as an add-on to the already wonderful Amazon Prime is a little astonishing, when you think about it. And now, with iPad compatibility that some of us thought would never get here, it's gotten dangerously close to being the best streaming deal around.
There are still problems with Instant Video; the selection struggles at times, and even if it were quality it's a nightmare to navigate. But that's just the Prime streaming side. Amazon's selection of movies and TV shows for purchase matches anyone's, and its prices are always competitive with—and very often lower than—Apple's.
A quick run-through of both a movie that I own through Instant Video and one that I streamed through my Prime membership showed that the service works quickly, smoothly, and crisply. You can also download movies that you own to your device for offline viewing. It's a little bit magical.
The only additional downside is that because of Apple takes 30% of any in-app purchase, you can't buy movies directly through the Instant Video iPad app. Instead, you'll have to head to Amazon in a browser, complete your purchase, then head back to your app. Which is silly! But worth the inconvenience, especially given Amazon's daily video sales.
If you're a Prime member, you need to download this app immediately. If you're not Prime but are tired of paying iTunes prices, you need to download this app immediately. If you're a Fringe or West Wing fan—both Amazon Prime Instant Video exclusives—you need to sign up for Prime. And then download this app immediately. [iTunes via 9to5Mac]