Amazon Unbox Is Just Un

Amazon Unbox is quite possibly the most aggravating, gimmicky, dubiously legal piece of unavoidable software I have ever crossed.

A background is necessary: Unbox is the pop-out player necessary to view any Amazon-purchased video media offline. In other words, if you buy the latest season of Glee or the newest Wes Anderson flick through Amazon–and you wish to actually possess a physical copy–your desire is only realizable upon also uploading Unbox (a proprietary reader that decodes the security-protected download file obtained through Amazon). So far so good.

The only problem: Unbox is a) not supported on Macs, b) cannot convert your file into a format amenable to burning a DVD, and c) will not convert files into any other format for viewing on a non-Unbox system. Here are a couple of results: First off, the fact that I paid the same dollar figure for my media through Amazon as I would at a conventional brick-and-mortar media store is immaterial: I clearly did not purchase the same amount of rights. Whereas I could have easily taken my shiny new copy of Life Aquatic, shed it of its shrink wrap, and copy or upload to my heart’s content, I cannot do the same with the Amazon file.

In fact, it’d be a stretch to presume I could even share my film on another already-Unbox-equipped computer–I’d have to go through the process of adequately setting up Amazon to recognize my account info on that third-party device. Basically, I’m stuck with either–a) hauling my main computer with me, or b) sacrificing my identity security by reproducing my account info on another computer–for *ever* watching my film with a friend. And that’s not all.

Since I–like most of my fellow PC consumers–are reawakening to the usefulness of Macintosh platforms–every new Mac-friendly purchase we make is at the expense of the ownership rights we’ve vested in Amazon video media. In other words, I take a hit (for no fault of my own) in using and enjoying my legally obtained videos by making sensible consumer choices. Given the above, I can only denounce strongly Amazon’s Unbox. And I warn my fellow netizens of their likelihood of concluding the same should they too be suckered into its use.