A couple of weeks ago, I decided to switch my Internet and phone from Verizon (NYSE:VZ) to Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA). To make a long story short, my living room's status quo changed quickly, since this change meant that my TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) could no longer use my phone line to download its program data. (This was a big, fat bummer when my TiVo informed me that it had just one day left of data. Oh, the horror.)

A bit of consternation, a trip to Best Buy (NASDAQ:BBY), and a new TiVo wireless adapter later, and my TiVo was now hooked into my wireless network, which was pretty darn cool. (The TiVo-branded wireless-network adapter, although a bit pricey, was easy as pie to set up.)

This also meant I could finally, finally test Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Unbox download service for TiVo. My living room has finally taken another step into the 21st century, but unfortunately, I can't say this new development is going to change my media-consumption habits drastically. Not yet, anyway.

What's hot, what's not
Renting a movie by using my TiVo remote control was a cool experience, although I don't think it's going to tempt me to ditch my Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) service anytime soon.

The ability to rent a movie from Amazon Unbox for $3.99 does play to the occasional need for instant gratification. Even with the "five-at-home" plan from Netflix and a whole array of movies on cable, sometimes you just don't have the kind of movie on hand that you're in the mood for.

Of course, you've probably suspected that the Amazon Unbox download isn't that instant, although the movie I rented downloaded more quickly than I expected. My paranoid first thought that the download might take all night was unfounded. The download also came through without a hitch, and that definitely impressed me.

One major downside I noticed, though, is that because of Amazon's agreements with copyright holders, my rental would stay on my TiVo for only 30 days, and once I hit the play button, it would be available for only 24 hours. This situation made me feel like I had a ticking time bomb in my "Now Playing" list, and I can't say that's a consumer friendly experience. I mean, what if DVDs from Netflix exploded if you didn't watch them within a certain period?

Actually, the idea that your rental has such limitations points to a couple things. First of all, it's not that different from Blockbuster's (NYSE:BBI) old-school model of making renters pay for not watching movies in a timely manner. Second, it underlines why so many consumers are frustrated with big media companies these days. Putting a consumer on a timeframe like that negates what's so great about digital media in the first place. Talk about completely missing the point. They just. Don't. Get it.

Last but not least, Amazon boasts 20,000 movies and TV shows available for download using Amazon Unbox. (Netflix, by comparison, boasts 100,000 DVD titles, and 10,000 movies that customers can watch instantly.) But as for the movies compiled into easy-to-use TiVo menus, the pickings looked a bit slim. I'll probably play around a little more with doing searches to see what else is out there, but I have a feeling that's going to require a lot of keying on my TiVo remote control.

Nice to have … but need to have? Maybe not.
Amazon is one of my all-time favorite stocks; Jeff Bezos & Co. are a very smart, highly competitive bunch, and the company is, in my estimation, the creme de la creme of the Internet giants. So I'm not underestimating Amazon's ability to provide great services of all types. Besides, it needed to come up with digital strategies and partnerships like the one it has with TiVo.

And the TiVo partnership made it pretty darn easy for people like me, who hate hooking stuff up, to have some semblance of the digital living room that's been predicted for years. Then again, TiVo nailed down the last mile with Amazon Unbox an entire year ago. Having taken me this long to get on board shows that there's a certain degree of inertia that sets in when one has a service that works OK, and changing it might seem like a lot of trouble, even if it's an improvement. (After all, I had no choice but to get my TiVo rigged for broadband once I ditched Verizon.)

So far, though, at least from my experience as a TiVo user, I'd say Amazon Unbox seems like a nice ancillary product that benefits me as a consumer. But I also doubt that it's going to light the world on fire anytime soon. (Speaking of fire, there's always the Kindle … now that looks cool, but it's still too pricey for my blood!)

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