I have not subscribed to Amazon Prime since a student in college 10 years ago. Since then, Amazon has become a behemoth, branched off in many other businesses. Today, an Amazon Prime subscription not only includes two day shipping for Prime eligible items. It also includes Prime Instant Video, Prime Music, Prime Photo, and Kindle Owner's Lending Library (did not review since I do not own a Kindle). The prices since then have also increased, so does the new price justify the Amazon Prime service? I ended up giving Amazon Prime a second opportunity when Amazon offered a free 30 day Prime subscription.
Free Two Day Shipping
By far this is the best feature of Amazon Prime. At times, the convenience of free two day shipping can become hazardous for your wallet. Given the wide selection of items eligible for Prime shipping, it is easy to shop and compare prices. In addition, some items are available at even lower prices for Prime members only. A great Prime only deal I found was 3 bottles of ACT Total Care (33oz each bottle) for $15. Safeway sells the a 18oz bottle of the same product sells for $6 per bottle. Some in some ways, the Prime only prices can be compared to big warehouse (like Costco) pricing. To sum up shopping benefits, you get free 2 day shipping with no minimum shipping, and more competitive items for select items. During my 30 day trial, I am likely to use it at least 5-6 times. Overall, the free two day shipping is an amazing service, and subscribing to Amazon Prime is a no brainer if you make a lot of online purchases.
Prime Instant Video
This is the first subscription streaming service I have trialed. It is similar to subscribing to Netflix or Hulu Plus, but each service still their differences. browsed and used other Netflix accounts and use Hulu Free on a daily basis. So how does Prime Instant Video stack up against Hulu Plus and Netflix?I consistently use the free version of Hulu to watch current TV shows on a multi-day delayed schedule and an expiration (the delay and expiration schedule are show specific). I recall browsing Hulu for movies in the past, but recall that their collection of movies is not recent and therefore I don't find all that interesting. From my understanding, a Hulu Plus subscription would remove the multi-day delay and remove video expiration, but keep the ads. Amazon Prime Instant Video has TV shows on a season delay (meaning if they're airing Season 5, then Season 1-4 will be available for free streaming). However, Amazon does stream the currently available Season, but the episodes must be individually rented or purchased. On a general basis, Hulu Plus is better for TV shows, but on-par for Movies.
Netflix is a whole separate beast. Netflix has a much more comprehensive collection of streaming movies, but is lacking on TV shows. Even though it is more comprehensive, Netflix is still on a slower release schedule when compared to DVDs and BluRays. Again comparing to Amazon's Prime Instant Video, Netflix is the better option for movies watchers. Again, on a general basis, Netflix is better for Movies, and on-par for TV shows.
Overall, I would rate Amazon's Prime Instant Video subscription service average, with no major strengths to differentiate. One thing I dislike about Amazon's Prime Instant Video is there wasn't a clear way forward to stream via mobile. I reviewed a few apps by Amazon on the Google Play store, but none of them offered the streaming service. I never got streaming on my phone to work, but I do hypothesize the only way to install it is via Amazon Android Store. That is lame and I'd rather not use it.
I took a very quick look at Prime Music. I'm current a fan of the Spotify Free service, as they tend to have the best collection of music hands down. So to even consider switching, Prime Music must meet the standard of Spotify Free which it did not. A search of recent music on their service gave me no results. But for that reason, a 30 day trial wasn't enough for me to create a playlist that wasn't going to be accessible in 30 day when the Amazon Prime trial ends.
As for Prime Photo, I figured this service would be similar to other cloud storage competitors. There isn't much way to differentiate. Again, because it was a trial, I didn't see much a reason to try out uploading photos that would not be accessible in 30 days. I am happy with storing my photos with Google.
Overall Impression of Amazon Prime
I find that free two day shipping is the bread and butter of Amazon Prime. If you buy a lot of stuff online, then Amazon Prime is going to be worth it. Prime Instant Video and Prime Music are nice services to be bundled, but subscription services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, and Spotify Premium all have better services for their niche. Of course, if you watch old content, then Prime Instant Video and Prime Music is your perfect match. An finally, Prime Photo is a services they offer to keep you in the Amazon Ecosystem. Once you commit and upload many photos, the effort required to move it again will become a factor in whether or not you continue subscribing to Amazon Prime. When it comes down to price, using all their services is a great deal for only $99 a year. Other subscription service mentioned above are Hulu Plus for $7.99 a month, Netflix for $7.99 a month, and Spotify Premium for $10 a month. So if subscribing to Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Spotify Premium will run $25.98 a month compared to Amazon Prime which is only $8.25 a month. Try Amazon Prime free for 30 days for yourself.