Amazon Prime Video is yet another contender worth keeping an eye on in the streaming wars. With a steady influx of licensed and original content, movies for rent a la carte and bundling with the benefits of Amazon Prime, Prime Video makes a worthy rival for the likes of Netflix and Hulu.
Because Netflix has that nasty VPN ban and raised its prices in 2019, some users may be wondering what other — or new — streaming options are out there right now, especially those who have a tight entertainment budget and don’t want to pay for multiple subscriptions.
Amazon Prime Video is well positioned for the value-oriented, particularly those who are already using Amazon Prime for the two-day shipping.
Maybe you’re a longtime Amazon Prime member and just never gave Prime Video much consideration, or you’re looking to try it out to consolidate your streaming service expenses. Either way, in this quick guide, we’ll run you through the basics, such as how to get Amazon Prime Video and how to watch its videos and TV shows on your TV or smartphone.
For all things streaming, you should check out our streaming archive for our recommendations for the best virtual private networks to use while streaming, as well as other tutorials like this one.
How to Get Amazon Prime Video
In order to gain access to Amazon’s streaming service, you have to be a Prime member. You can choose to pay $119 annually or $13 per month. If you’re a student with a valid student email address, you can subscribe for $59 per year.
Compared to rivals such as Netflix and Hulu, there’s a couple of points where having an Amazon account has an advantage. First, Prime Video is the only streaming provider to offer high dynamic range-enabled content.
Second, Prime Video doesn’t charge extra for 4K ultra-high-definition video. That means if you have a high-end smart TV or home theater set up and want to stream 4K at the lowest price, Amazon Prime Video is currently the best bet.
How to Watch Amazon Prime Video on TV
Just like Netflix and Hulu, Amazon has a dedicated app for connected devices. If you have a smart TV, gaming console or an internet-connected Blu-ray player, you need only to go to your device’s app store and download the Amazon Prime Video app.
Amazon’s support pages detail supported devices and features, so that’s a good place to start if you’re unsure about your setup with the Amazon Prime Video app.
If you have older devices or a TV that isn’t internet-ready, Amazon still has an option for you. The Amazon Fire TV Stick allows you to stream Amazon Prime Video on older HDTVs (read our guide on what a Firestick is). All you need (in addition to the Fire TV Stick) is a spare HDMI port and a WiFi connection. It comes in two variants: one that supports 1080p and one that supports 4K.
They mostly look the same, but there are a couple of differentiating features. They have different processors and support different versions of Doly audio. Both require external power, WiFi and an HDMI port, though.
Regarding HDMI, make sure you have the latest HDMI cables. For 4K, HDR streaming, you’ll want an HDMI cable that supports HDMI version 2.0a.
How to Watch Amazon Prime Video on a Smartphone
If you’re a Prime member, it’s easy to get access to Amazon Prime Video on your Android or Apple device. You need only navigate to the app store of your device — App Store for iOS or the Google Play store for Android. In your device’s app store, you can download the Amazon Prime Video app, open it and log in with your Amazon account.
While we’ve got you here, consider checking out our best VPN for Android or our best VPN for iOS.
How to Watch Amazon Prime Video Online
You also have the option to watch Amazon Prime Video on your computer through your preferred web browser. There are caveats, though. Your browser and computer need to be up to snuff, per Amazon’s requirements. That said, the minimum requirements are more than modest, and as long as you’re using a modern web browser on your device, you’re unlikely to run into issues.
Chrome, Safari and Firefox are among the most popular web browsers, so make sure you’re using the latest version. If you’re a Windows user, you’ll at least need to be on Windows 7. For macOS, 10.7 is the oldest supported version. Though Linux is supported, the best combination seems to be using Google Chrome, as it supports the HTML5 player.
Once you’re set, go to Amazon’s Prime Video website, sign in or sign up for a subscription, and get to binging.
How to Watch Amazon Prime Video Offline
Like most streaming services, Amazon offers the ability to download certain content. That is especially helpful if you’re on the go away from home and run into WiFi dead zones; for example, when you’re on the bus or a plane, which is the perfect time to be watching your favorite series on your laptop.
You have to be a paying member with a subscription to Prime Video content, though. Household members, or users with whom you’ve shared your Amazon Prime benefits, can’t download video. Read Amazon’s support page for more on that.
You’ll see a download option associated with eligible content, as long as you’re using a compatible device: with a Fire tablet or with the Amazon Prime Video app for iOS or Android. You can choose to download videos or TV shows at different quality settings — best, better and good — depending on your storage situation.
Afterward, the downloaded content should show up in your library. You will have a limited time to watch it, though.
As the streaming wars heat up — with Disney, AT&T and Apple getting into the game — it will become increasingly important to be selective with your subscription options.
Though new competition is always welcome, having so many options will fracture video libraries because a lot of content will be exclusive. For instance, now that Disney has launched its Disney+ service (read our guide on how to watch Disney+), it is the exclusive home for the Marvel and Star Wars movies, which used to be popular titles for Netflix.
Because most consumers can’t afford — or aren’t willing to pay for — every streaming service subscription, it’ll be more important for providers to offer value, and it’s hard to beat the value of Amazon Prime. For $13 per month, you not only get two-day shipping, but access to Prime Video and the underrated Prime Music, which is intended to compete with Spotify and Apple Music.
As the streaming stratosphere becomes more crowded, many of us will be looking to cull and consolidate our choices. Amazon Prime Video makes sense if you’re already an Amazon Prime member and shop with it frequently.
In addition to our guide on the best VPN for Amazon Prime Video, you can also check out our best VPN for Netflix guide. As with all streaming, using a VPN for Prime Video will allow you to access geoblocked content.
How do you think Amazon Prime Video stacks up to Netflix and Hulu? What are your favorite videos or shows to watch on Prime Video? Let us know in a comment or tweet, and as always, thanks for reading.