Amazon Now Streams HD Movies and Shows

Service joins others in offering fare that's better than standard, but can't match Blu-ray

We hope Hulu will be next

Amazon has added high-def content to its Internet streaming service. It's a me-too move, with the retailer joining Apple, Vudu, Netflix and other streaming services that offer HD titles.

Also like the others, Amazon's HD can't match the stunning picture of a Blu-ray disk -- or even an over-the-air HD broadcast. I tried the Amazon service and the high-def image is better than what Amazon and others offer in the lower standard-definition. But to my eyes, the high-def version is more like an upscaled DVD than true HD.

The service is available through PCs as well as devices that carry the Amazon service, including newer TiVos, the Roku Player and Sony TVs that have the Bravia Internet Video Link. Amazon can now also stream its 40,000 titles to Panasonic TVs with Viera Cast.

The HD streams worked smoothly for me on a Roku. They do take a minute or more to load up, or about twice as long as standard fare.

For watching an action movie with lots of special effects, I'd probably spring the extra $1 for an HD version of movie from Amazon. That's the typical premium over the same movies in standard definition, which can be rented for $2.99 to $3.99.

For a drama flick where it's mostly faces and dialogue, save the $1 and stick with SD.