* Amazon Unbox On TiVo Sucks: Spoiled Movie Night v3

It’s quicker to drive to Blockbuster.

I have a EE degree from MIT. I have wicked fast Verizon FiOS TV/phone/Internet service. I keep a MacBook near my TV for easy web access. Yet I could not get Amazon Unbox On TiVo to work last night.

My wife and I wanted to watch a movie last night. Silly us.

TiVo – Strike One

None of the 20 saved movies on TiVo were interesting to us. Call us spoiled, but we want to watch an interesting movie that we’ve not previously seen. Which shouldn’t be too difficult. We go to movie theaters (another dreadful user experience) only about once per year.

Verizon FiOS On-Demand – Strike Two

We tried to browse the available movies on Verizon FiOS on-demand, but the user interface is horrendous. The Verizon FiOS on-demand experience made me think about Kramer. As in the Seinfeld episode where Kramer starts working for Kruger even though he’s not actually employed there. When Kruger reviews Kramer’s work, he quips, “it’s as if you have no business experience at all.” That’s Verizon FiOS TV. No UI design experience at all.

Amazon Unbox On TiVo – Strike Three

I suggested to my wife that we try Amazon Unbox On TiVo. “You can rent movies directly from Amazon, and they’ll download to your TiVo box,” said I, optimistically (and foolishly). She had never heard about the service. Why? Because Amazon and TiVo did a horrible job marketing it. The Amazon Unbox option is buried in TiVo’s otherwise decent menus. And neither of us recalled receiving any email or direct mail about Amazon Unbox On TiVo.

In contrast, each of us knows about the iPhone and AppleTV (although we own neither). Why? Because Apple gets marketing. Amazon and TiVo, not so much.

Just to set up Amazon Unbox on the TiVo side took about 15 minutes. (Romantic mood going downhill.) Then we had to “sync” my Amazon.com account with the TiVo.com account, which was confusing at best. (Romantic mood still barely intact.) This is a major problem with a video partnership like this. You have to jump through these configuration hoops to make sure that each company gets its slice of the pie. Why couldn’t I simply charge my Amazon Unbox purchases to my TiVo without doing any silly account synchronization? Finally, it was completely unclear how to actually order the movie. And how it would be delivered. Turns out you can order movies from either TiVo or from Amazon.com (the latter is easier), an we were told that the movie would appear within 15 minutes in the “Now Playing” list. (Will the romantic mood last another 15 minutes?) An hour later, still no movie. Amazon emailed me my receipt just fine, so I know that they’ve got my money. What do I have? Nothing, except the desire to never ever use Amazon Unbox On TiVo again.

We could have driven to Blockbuster and back – and watched the movie – in the time it took to get Amazon Unbox on the TiVo working. (Not that it’s actually working.)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but ordering movies on demand should be as quick and easy as rolling on a condom. Until then, I suggest renaming the service to Amazon Un-demand.

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12 Replies to “* Amazon Unbox On TiVo Sucks: Spoiled Movie Night v3”

  1. Strangely, my Netflix orders work every time (OK, I had one scratched disc which they replaced in a day – still faster than unbox).

    Granted, the sponteneity isn’t the same, but you have to go to the store to buy that box of condoms in advance too.

    (Personally, I wouldn’t use unrolling a condom as the example of ease, but that’s just me.)

    I recommend trying netflix and getting rid of your tivo. I did and we are very happy. TV sucks anyway.

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