Lovefilm for Kindle Fire HD pictures and hands-on
With the arrival of the Kindle Fire HD comes Lovefilm streaming its way on to Android. Not for every Android user mind, just those who happen to have picked up Amazon's new tablet.
We've been calling out for a Lovefilm app for Android for ages: the iPad has one, the PS3 has one, and the Xbox 360 and Samsung TVs will also give you Lovefilm.
Of course, Lovefilm is owned by Amazon, so it makes sense for the video service to be available on its homebrew tablet. We've been giving it a quick play to see if it's worth the subscription and how it fits on to the new device.
First you'll need a subscription to Lovefilm to use the service, although there is a one-month free trial you can sign up to. Beyond that, you're looking at a subscription from £4.99 a month, which gives you unlimited instant streaming, with various "with disc" options for a higher monthly price.
The app integrates seamlessly with the Kindle Fire HD navigation bar, so rather than having to open Lovefilm as an app, it's the service you arrive at when you go to video.
Open up the app and you are presented with a range of suggestions. It's crisp and detailed and really makes good used of the high-definition display on the Kindle Fire HD.
You are then left to explore, scrolling up and down and left and right to find films, TV, kids movies and recommendations. If you want to see more you can tap the link to get the full page of TV shows, for example, with further navigation tabs for genre, highest rated and so on.
Or, there's a straight search bar at the top so you can tap in what you're looking for, with results being returned as you type.
Once you start watching a film or TV series, it will fall into the "Next Up" line, where you can continue watching, either starting from the beginning or where you left off. Where you stop is synchronised to your account, so you can resume watching on your Xbox, for example.
Programmes available in HD are marked as such, with an indicator in the playing window that will show it is actually in HD. Like many streaming services, it will start quickly in SD, before stepping up to HD as the stream becomes established, so there's no buffering.
The player window gives you regular controls, including a volume slider, and the option to expand the movie to fill the screen if you really can't stand that letterboxing.
A smart addition is X-Ray. This bonus information pulls in details from IMDb, so you can, at an instant, find out who is in the scene that's playing. The clever thing is that the list changes as people come and go from the scene. It's really handy to identify obscure actors, or check out someone you like the look of. You can click through for the full cast list too.
The small X-Ray overlay will sit in place while the video is playing, if you want it, but if you click for more information then the video pauses.
Aside from the actual playback, you can create a watchlist and view trailers, and there's even the option to clear your search cache, perhaps if you've been looking for something you shouldn't.
Outside of the app, the films you've been watching will appear in your timeline on the homepage of your Kindle Fire HD, along with regular content from websites, books, apps and so on, so it's really easy to return to something. Simply tapping the film or programme will take you straight back into Lovefilm, ready to resume playing.
Problems? Well, there's no option to go offline with it: you can't download titles to watch when you're on an aircraft, for example, which might be a limitation for some.
Finally a word on the experience on the Kindle Fire HD. HD content looks fantastic on the Kindle Fire HD's display and the Dolby speakers give plenty of volume and impressive range. There's even an HDMI out to hook up to your TV if you want Lovefilm on your large TV. So far we're impressed, but we'll be bringing you a full review of the Kindle Fire HD as soon as we can.
Of course, whether the service has the range of programming you want, and whether you think that justifies the monthly subscription, is a different question, but you can always check out the offering at lovefilm.com, or give that free month trial a go first.