Star Trek FREE for Amazon Prime members (Amazon Tablet thoughts)

I've been an Amazon Prime subscriber for a couple of years now. It's been a huge money saver for the family. Free two day shipping on books and many other items is an absolute life-saver sometimes. It also means I don't have to fret - or wait long! - on a print book I want. Love it. Two days isn't the two minutes it takes to grab an ebook, but it's pretty good. And some books, you just want the print version, you know? Amazon's been stepping up Prime benefits, though. They recently started adding free video to the membership. Lots of TV series, buckets of films. My wife tore through a couple of seasons of Torchwood using Amazon video - free. She's watching Dr. Who right now. Stargate SG-1 is up for free as well.

And they've just added Star Trek. Not some of them, but every live actor televised episode of every series. The original is there, Next Gen is there, DS9 is there, Voyager is there, Enterprise is there... Wow.

I'm sure this is all part of the prep for the release of Amazon's Android Tablet later this year. The idea is simple: tablets are not computers. Tablets are media consumption devices. Tablets are for listening to music, watching video, surfing the internet, reading books, etc. Amazon already dominates the ebook market. They have a Cloud Music player with free storage, and often cheaper prices than iTunes on the same tracks. They have an Android App store which is easier to navigate than the Apple one, and head and shoulders above the Google one. And now they have a video arsenal which seems to rival Netflicks. In short, Amazon is building the infrastructure they need to go toe to toe with the iPad.

But there's a critical difference. Apple built the infrastructure for media consumption, but their focus is still on sales of the device, which costs $500-800. Amazon is building an equivalent media consumption system, but seems intent on making that their money-maker - with a device cost predicted to be $249 that includes free Prime membership (a $79 value), so the tablet effectively costs only $170. That's remarkable for a color tablet. The low price coupled with the strong set of offerings makes Amazon's entry into the tablet market a potent one.

And it's good for the rest of us, too. ;)  Even if you're not planning to buy their tablet, having access to thousands of hours of popular TV shows and films is pretty amazing!