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Amazon Prime Video for Windows 10 is better than a browser — but not good enough

Amazon doesn't do enough to make the Prime Video app stack up to its competition.

Amazon Prime Video Windows10 App
(Image: © Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

After years of waiting, Amazon finally released a Prime Video app for Windows 10. The app brings Amazon's gigantic library of content, including originals, purchased content, movies, and shows galore to a dedicated app on Windows 10.

You could already view Amazon Prime videos on any PC through a browser, so a new app has to have features that make it stand out from using your browser of choice. Amazon falls short of that bar, at least for now. The app has some handy features, but it doesn't stand up to other popular streaming apps on Windows 10 like Netflix.

What you'll like about Amazon Prime Video for Windows

Prive Video Search Web Vs App

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Amazon Prime Video for Windows is an app that scales well across different screen sizes. It looks good on my laptop with a 3:2 aspect ratio and when used in split-screen on my device. That might not seem like much, but it's much better than how Prime Video appears within a browser.

Browsing through content to watch, searching for content, and navigating the app is easy and straightforward. I "installed" the Prime Video website as an app to try to get a fair comparison between Amazon's native application and watching on the web. Pretty much across the board, the native app provides a better experience.

Searching is especially lovely in the Windows 10 app because it feels like I'm searching within an app. Again, that seems like a given, but searching for content on Amazon's website feels like I'm shopping online. As much as I love gardening, I shouldn't see a Home & Garden tab when I'm searching for videos.

The Amazon Prime Video for Windows app supports offline playback, allowing you to download content and watch it offline. This is great for when you're on an airplane or in a location without an internet connection. Once you choose to watch downloaded content, you have a 48-hour offline window of playback. To keep it playable offline for longer, you'll have to briefly reconnect to the web. I assume this is to stop people from hoarding downloaded content and canceling subscriptions, which is fair enough.

What you'll dislike about Amazon Prime Video for Windows

Prime Video App

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Amazon Prime Video for Windows covers the absolute barebone basics of a video app right now. It's better than watching in a browser, but it's far behind apps like Netflix. The app is brand new so that Amazon could build it up over time, but right now, it's disappointing.

Prime Video on Windows doesn't support 4K, HDR, or Dolby 5.1 surround sound from what I can tell. When set to "Best" quality, the app states that it's playing in HD. I don't see any audio settings for surround sound like there are in other apps.

Some speculate that Amazon does this to prevent piracy of 4K content. I don't know if that's true, but it wouldn't make sense if it was. What would Amazon's plan be in that case, to just never have 4K content on PCs? Regardless of the reason, I'd like to view 4K content on my 4K PC.

The app also lacks some features like picture-in-picture mode (also known as Compact Overlay). This feature allows you to play a video app over all of your other windows. Picture-in-picture is relatively standard for video apps, especially on iOS and Android. On Windows 10, Netflix and some other video apps have it. Being able to have video content stay on top of all other windows is handy for desktops and laptops but is especially useful for tablets. I'd love to see it supported for Prime Video in the future to make viewing content easier on Surface devices and other 2-in-1s.

You could chalk these issues up to the fact that the app is new, and to some extent, that's true. But the app is only new because Amazon chose to wait this long. Other major streaming services have been on Windows for years. Amazon isn't some small company or indie dev. This app could have launched years ago and been built up over time to get where it needed to be.

Should you try Amazon Prime Video for Windows?

Prime App Downloading

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Amazon Prime Video for Windows is better than watching Prime Video through a browser. It supports offline playback and scales well on different screen sizes. Because of this, it's probably the best way to watch Prime Video content on a Windows 10 PC.

However, I still find Amazon Prime Video for Windows disappointing. Its lack of 4K support is baffling. It lacks support for picture-in-picture mode. It just seems to scratch the itch to have an Amazon Prime Video app on Windows but leaves me wanting more.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

25 Comments
  • It's fineee.. able to download tv/movies for offline viewing, so I'm not complaining.
  • I guess if I had insane amounts of disposable cash I would have 4K devices coming out of my butt, etc. But none of the devices I run the Amazon Prime Video app on are 4K, so that doesn't matter in the least. And, in my opinion, HDR actually ruins the viewing experience, so that's not a thing I care about. And PinP is just a lame feature to begin with---if I'm going to watch something on my PC or tablet I'M GOING TO WATCH THE SHOW, not be doing other things. So, as far as I'm concerned there are zero cons with the app so far.
  • You not having a 4K device doesn't discount that as a desirable feature. That's like saying you don't have good speakers so audio quality doesn't matter. For you, the app is probably fine, but it is distantly behind competing apps from other major streaming services.
  • "I guess if I had insane amounts of disposable cash I would have 4K devices coming out of my butt, etc. But none of the devices I run the Amazon Prime Video app on are 4K, so that doesn't matter in the least. "
    That's a real apologist thing to say. While it applies to you, are you prepared to say that there is no one out there with a 4K+ PC who is not going to be disappointed when their purchased 4K/HDR content has to playback at a lower quality? The answer is an obvious no and this is a negative no matter how you spin it. There is no world where "only" full HD is awesome. Had this app had the ability for 4K you wouldn't lose a thing, there is literally no downside for you. But for anyone else there is, which is the point.
    "And, in my opinion, HDR actually ruins the viewing experience, so that's not a thing I care about. "
    Sure, but again, this review isn't "what's the perfect video app for DRDiver" it's "Is the Amazon Prime Video app very good, or just OK?". No option for HDR is a letdown in 2020, whether you prefer it or not. Same with PnP. I'm glad you enjoy the app, truly, but not everyone has as low standards for a service they pay for. It's Ok to demand more and not have to settle.
  • I am always amazed at the site writers who preach "this is how it is *for me*" in the editorials, but go ballistic should personal opinion be expressed in the comments section. Witness not one, but two writers coming down on one comment...
  • That's because you're incapable of discerning a critique. You're only role in comments is to be partisan and negative. My beef isn't with DRDiver's personal opinion, which I flat out state "I'm glad you enjoy the app, truly." But his comment suggests our review is wrong because we rightfully pointed out the app's shortcomings. That's misguided. Had DRDiver said "I can see how some will find this app lacking and disappointing, but personally, it's NBD for me" no one would disagree. And no one is going "ballistic" in comments. We're having a discussion. If you can't handle that then this site is not for you (nor is the internet, tbh).
  • It's Daniel Rubino. What did you expect? He torches anyone that goes against his beliefs in a very unprofessional way.
  • I am certainly not a Daniel Rubino apologist. I don't always agree with his opinion or takes, but so what if he's harsh on certain people. It's like the writers here can't have their own opinion but you as a visitor can? And my lord, must there be some many of you who act like third grade girls and get your panties in a bunch every time someone has a harsh critique? My lord! Is this a result of all these kids getting a trophy for just participating in events? Even when they come in last place? They seem like they can't handle any thing. And truthfully there is nothing I've ever read on this site that ever warranted any true outrage.
  • I have nothing but respect for Dan's defense of Windows Central's authors and articles. I've also criticized some articles here in the past where I believed there was a technical mistake or a political angle, but I think it's admirable when a leader defends his team and his people, as long as they've not done something horribly wrong. And in this case, I don't actually see how anyone can disagree with what Dan wrote as a response -- clearly, these are limitations with the app, whether they are relevant to every user or not.
  • And THAT is really my point. If reviews provided better qualifiers instead of, as you aptly pointed out, creating their own definitive statement. I place a LOT more credibility in a review/critique of the author says something like "with <insert percentage here> of consumers owning or planning to acquire 4K monitors/laptops, lack of 4K support could be a deal-breaker". THAT is good writing.
  • I have had my PC hooked up to my Main TV for years and am a PC kind of guy. So yes for me 5.1 would be my first wish and 4K/HDR next. I do appreciate the app. Nice first step. Friday night added some stuff to my watch list way better than Browser. Yes if you just watch on surface and the like (I have 2 surface devices) then not as important. I would like to be fly on the wall inside Amazon as to why no 5.1. Quick answer I have no clue. I guess not a technical thing but not willing to pay license to someone? I also really appreciate this article pointing out a few things that are missing. People who love PC like this site. No need for any negativity. If Win Central points out some weaknesses in the app it has a much better chance of being corrected than me crying about it. Onward and upward. :)
  • How does HDR ruin the viewing experience? It dramatically increases picture quality unless you are running a low end TV.
  • Speaking for myself I get irritated about how people communicate. It's not about shutting down other people's opinions, it's about wanting people to communicate their thoughts as that what they are which are opinions. This commentor kind of does that by the end when he says "as far as I'm concerned..." but that's just at the end Through the majority of the comment he's critiquing the app or this review through his own opinions and implying they reflect the reality of everyone.
  • They do this on purpose, they act like "it's so hard to design and build for windows, ugh, if you want Amazon's best get the Amazon stuff, Wah" but Google is worse because at least Amazon will build the bate minimum just to say they made something "we play nice, Wah"
  • Well Microsoft doesn't do it's best with their own apps. Why should Amazon?
  • It NEEDS 5.1 audio support - then it will be better than the browser
  • Amazon should add playready drm so it can provide 4K without worry of piracy.
    Playready will block screen capture and hdmi duplication
  • Only a tiny number of PC's have 4K displays so making this a huge issue is just a "mountain out of a molehill" complaint. That said outside of a specific need to download videos I could care less about any of these streaming apps. Using the browser is perfectly fine.
  • As a Prime subscriber, I can say those three missing features are should haves. But surely they're coming. Has anyone asked Amazon about this? Tidal was a crap-show for years. Only recently did it get better. But get better it did.
  • One issue that this app and Tidal share is that lists are very slow to scroll though and if you click on an album/movie and go back, it doesn't remember where you were in the list. It makes browsing a nightmare.
  • There is no such thing as a good Amazon Prime Video app -- even the website is a mess of confusion.
  • "I "installed" the Prime Video website as an app to try to get a fair comparison between Amazon's native application and watching on the web. Pretty much across the board, the native app provides a better experience." Yes, of COURSE the native app is better. Regressive Web Apps are not the future. Of anything.
  • You should check out PWAs from Hulu, Twitter, and some other major companies. While I agree that some experiences will always be better with native applications, there are some that work well as PWAs.
  • I think at this point Win10 marketplace takes any app like this as a win. Disney+ still doesn't have a win10 app
  • I would bet that Amazon only put this much effort into it to see how much attention it first gets. The app may get more polish if it gains more use.