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If you have Amazon Prime, then you have Amazon Prime Video (also known as simply Prime Video). And Prime Video gives you access to thousands of TV shows and movies that you can stream on demand.
The Prime Video library is full of high-quality shows, and that includes a number of exclusive titles only available on Prime Video. I’m not here to argue whether Prime Video is better than Netflix or Hulu. I’m currently subscribed to all three), and think they’re all worth watching.
But what most people don’t realize is that you can do more than “just stream videos” with Amazon Prime Video. Here are several nifty tips, tricks, and features that will improve your Prime Video experience…
1. Download Videos to Watch Offline
While this is no longer a unique feature any more, Prime Video was the first streaming service to offer downloads for offline playback. It started back in 2013 and was, at the time, only available on Kindle Fire HDX tablets. Today, you can download Prime Video content on any Fire, Android, or iOS device.
To learn more about the process, see our guide to downloading Prime Videos.
Offline playback is immensely useful if you have choppy internet, regular outages, commutes on buses or subways, or travel often and don’t always have Wi-Fi access. I love it for long plane trips — a few movies can make boring flights infinitely more bearable.
Note that if you leave the country, Amazon’s terms of service prohibits using a proxy or VPN to circumvent region blocks. However, if you download videos to a device and take it to a different region, you can still watch them.
2. View Cast, Scene, and Music Lists
Amazon is pioneering one of the coolest features in streaming media: X-Ray. It’s an overlay that presents commentary, trivia, and other bits of interesting information that you can see while watching a TV show or movie. It’s available on all Prime Video platforms and apps.
The details are mostly pulled from IMDb, which Amazon acquired way back in 1998. During playback, X-Ray might show you who all the cast members are on the screen, or it might show you general trivia related to the current scene.
You can also expand X-Ray to see a list of all the scenes in the episode or film and immediately jump to the one you want. X-Ray also provides a list of all the music used in the episode or movie, and even lets you jump to scene where it’s played.
Not all shows and movies support X-Ray right now, but most popular titles do, and the number continues to expand with every passing day.
3. Restrict Viewing With Parental Controls
Amazon is a family-friendly service, so of course the company provides a way for you to guard your children against inappropriate content. With Parental Controls, you can give them free reign to browse the Prime Video library at will without worrying about what they might see.
To set it up, go to Amazon Video Settings and scroll down to the Parental Controls section. Create a five-digit PIN to enable the feature. Two types of restrictions are available:
- Viewing Restrictions: Require PIN entry to watch videos where the rating is higher than allowed on the account. Amazon’s videos have ratings of General, 7+, 13+, and 18+. You can also exclude certain devices from these restrictions.
- Purchase Restrictions: Require PIN entry to purchase or rent TV shows and movies that are available through Amazon Video but not Prime Video.
4. Customize the Appearance of Subtitles
I’m the kind of person who always watches everything with subtitles on. Unfortunately, Prime Video has the worst-looking subtitles of any streaming service I’ve tried, especially when watching through the Prime Video app for Samsung smart TVs.
The good news is, you can tweak them and make them more bearable:
Amazon has an unchangeable Default setting, and then three Presets that you can tweak to your liking. Tweakable options include colors, fonts, sizes, opacities, backgrounds, borders, and outlines/shadows. The only downside is the disappointing font selection.
5. Watch TV and Movies Curated by Amazon
Though Prime Video comes with a recommendation engine based on your viewing habits, it isn’t that good. In fact, I’ve yet to find a TV show or movie that I’ve enjoyed through the recommendation engine. The Prime Video curated lists are much better.
When browsing the Prime Video library, just scroll past the “Recommend for You” lists and look for regular recommendation lists. These are the best of the best TV shows and movies offered on Prime Video, and these are where you’ll get the most value out of your subscription.
6. Add More Content With Amazon Channels
While the Prime Video contains many watchable titles, it does fall short in volume compared to Netflix and Hulu. This is one of its downsides, and would explain why Prime Video is also cheaper than the other two. However, you have options!
Amazon allows you to add subscriptions to premium cable channels like HBO ($15.99/mo), Showtime ($8.99/mo), and Starz ($8.99/mo). Non-cable channels are available too, such as Fullscreen ($5.99/mo), PBS Kids ($4.99/mo), and CONtv ($4.99/mo). Some channels even allow you to watch live and view the channel in real-time.
Amazon Channels are only available to U.S. customers as of this writing. Despite the extra monthly costs, these channel add-ons can actually cost less in the long run.
7. Vote for New Original TV Series
Like Netflix and Hulu, Amazon produces original TV series. But what sets Amazon apart is its pilot voting program. Every year, Amazon releases a handful of pilot episodes that you can watch and vote on. The ones that receive the most votes get turned into full seasons.
And even though Amazon’s originals have yet to reach the dizzy heights of Netflix’s originals, some of them have been pretty darn good. Notable examples include Bosch, The Man in the High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle, and Transparent. Each year’s voting period begins in the spring.
In the 2017 pilot season, Oasis stuck out as one with lots of potential, so keep your eyes peeled for it.
8. Get Prime Video Without Prime
This last tip is for those who don’t have Prime Video yet: you don’t need to get the full Prime membership to watch Prime Video streams.
If you’re a student, you can sign up for a free six-month Prime Student trial that comes with unlimited Prime Video, plus several other Prime benefits. When the free trial ends, you can turn it into a full Prime membership for 50 percent off until you graduate. Sign up for Prime Student by activating the free Prime trial with an .EDU email address.
Or you can opt for a Prime Video-only subscription plan that costs $8.99-per-month (compared to Prime, which is $10.99-per-month or $99-per-year). You can cancel at any time. If you only plan to stream for a few months, then the month-to-month option could work for you.
Click Here if you want to sign up for Prime Student or Prime Video.
Do you prefer Prime Video to Netflix or Hulu? Do you know of any other neat tips or tricks that Prime Video users would find useful? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or share this post with anyone looking for information on Prime Video.
Image Credits: JuliRose/Shutterstock