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Amazon Prime Instant Video and Prime: what you need to know

Amazon Prime
Are you ready for Prime time?

Amazon's Prime service started off as a way to get everything from soap to furniture shipped to your door faster and cheaper, now it has expanded to offer Prime Instant Video and more.

Over the years Amazon's company strategy changed, and the e-tailer shifted its gears from being the world's internet warehouse to a digital storefront in the vein of iTunes and the Google Play Store. With that, Prime added free access to its virtual library, which includes movies, TV and books.

Amazon has announced that Lovefilm is now part of Amazon Prime, with its name changed to Prime Instant Video. But what exactly are you getting?

On the surface, Prime seems to offer a lot for a yearly fee of £79. But what do you really get for that money, and do the costs even out in the end?

If you're curious about Prime and considering signing up, we've put together a full rundown of what you expect out of the service, if it's worth the fee and if it's right for you, plus how it stacks up to competing offerings.

What is Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime lets you order practically anything from its gigantic web warehouse and have it shipped next day for free.

It doesn't matter what the item is or its size - screwdrivers, a fancy new DSLR camera, power tools, or a big HDTV - your order will get to you in 48 hours without an additional charge.

A membership will also give you free, unlimited access to 41,000 streaming movies and TV shows via Prime Instant videos. Kindle owners meanwhile receive the added bonus of borrowing one of 350,000 books from Amazon Kindle's Lending Library. Unlike an actual library, there aren't any due dates.

How do I get it?

Getting an Amazon Prime membership requires a simple sign up process and an annual £79 membership fee.

If you're on the fence about putting down almost £80 on something you wished you could just try out first, you can. There's a 30-day trial period that offers a test run that's absolutely free.

How does it save me money?

Just about any purchase you make on Amazon comes with free shipping, but if you want it any sooner it can cost a real chunk of change. For express delivery you are looking at £4.49 per item. If you want an evening delivery then this will be £7.48 per item.

Prime is great if you buy a ton of stuff online, and the service could end up paying for itself in the end. In some cases, your £79 may pay for itself with a single purchase if you buy something particularly big and heavy.

That said, if you're not a big Amazon or online shopper, you may want to skip a £79 fee that will only add to your bills.

Internet TV and movies

Prime Instant Video

Now this is the big change that the UK has been waiting for some time now. Lovefilm from a streaming point of view always seemed second best to Netflix - and as it was bought by Amazon some time ago, it was only a matter of time that the Amazon logo would take over and that's why it is now called Prime Instant Video.

With Prime, you can watch 15,000 popular movies and TV episodes stream movies and television show episodes. A few things you will be able to watch in an instant include: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Hangover Part II, One Direction: This Is Us, Friends with Benefits and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, as well as TV shows such as The Walking Dead, Dexter, Vikings, Downton Abbey, Desperate Housewives, and children's favourites Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam, and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Now, this is where it gets interesting: if you already have a Lovefilm account, the disc rental side of things will stay the same. But if you have a Lovefilm Instant account then you can still subscribe to this for £5.99 - the difference you will see is a new look version of the app, complete with Prime Instant Video branding.