Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts

A Negative Review of Amazon Prime Video and Fix for Streaming Service - Keyboard Hotkeys, Shortcuts, Tips

Latest update: June 10, 2020

Alternate Titles

  • Why Is Amazon Prime Video So Bad?
  • I Have Amazon Prime But I Can't Watch Videos.
  • Amazon Prime Keeps Buffering.
  • Amazon Prime Video Not Working on Chrome.
  • And Keyboard Shortcuts and Tips.

When I first signed up and tried to use Amazon Prime Video, it was a royal mess and basically useless. The videos refused to work. It turns out that Amazon Prime's default video setting is ultra-high bandwidth usage. For folks with a less-than-perfect, high-speed ISP account; this can be a real problem. However and if one is lucky, it is possible to solve the debacle.

A few seconds of this is fine. But if it lasts longer and/or an error message appears, then there are problems.

How to Fix Amazon Prime Video Bandwidth Issues

There is both good news and bad news. The good news is Amazon has an option setting where one can change the bandwidth usage to a lower level. The bad news is the option setting is not available on the main menu; it is only available when one is able to get a video to run long enough (approximately a minute) for the option icon to show up at upper-right. One may have to make repeated attempts to make this happen. Closing all other apps and making sure Windows Updates isn't running will increase your chances of success.

If one can get the settings/option icon to work in video mode, three menu options will appear:
  • .38 GB
  • 1.40 GB
  • 6.84 GB
Amazon has the default setting at 6.84 GB. Changing the setting to .38 GB will solve the problem; the changed setting is immediately applied to the current and future videos. Oddly, I noticed no difference in video quality between the three settings; your results may vary.

Sooner or later, Amazon will realize the error of their ways and include the bandwidth setting option in their main menu. They may very well have done so since this page's last update, so that would be worth checking. Until then, this appears to be the only workaround.

A Short Review of Amazon Prime Video

Amazon has discounts for folks on EBT and/or Medicaid or Medi-Cal.

Amazon Prime has an excellent variety of movies, TV shows, original programming, etc. They are doing the free 30-day trial promotion. I don't see a downside to giving them a try. If one is able to overcome the bandwidth problem, they should have several months of entertainment available.

My standard procedure for watching Amazon Prime videos:
  1. Skip or fast forward through the one or two introductory segments.
  2. When actual show starts, I hit pause.
  3. I go away for a minute or two to give the video a chance to buffer.
  4. All is well for the rest of the show.
And, there are the other benefits of joining Amazon Prime; shopping, free deliveries, music, etc. I have no plans to discontinue their services anytime soon.

June Update
Amazon Prime Video pulls a very dirty trick on it's subscribers. I found a TV show I thought I might like. So I watched the first episode. I did like it, so I happily watched all the episodes of the first season. When I went to the second season, Amazon suddenly demanded more money. That left an extremely bad taste in my mouth. There is nothing wrong with trying to sell add-ons; Amazon, Netflix and Hulu all do it. But to suddenly demand more money in the middle of a series is a new low in tackiness. I stared at that for a minute and then signed-off the site. I've got a renewal date coming up and am considering discontinuing my subscription. Not necessarily a permanent good-bye, just some time to mull things over. We shall see. Besides, Netflix has been poking me with a stick about some new shows.

2nd June Update
Yep, I unsubscribed from Amazon Prime Video and resubscribed to Netflix. I figured that Netflix has accumulated enough new shows to keep me entertained for at least a month, and they don't pull that demanding-more-money-in-the-middle of-a-series thing.

Amazon Prime Video Web Browser Keyboard Shortcuts

The Amazon Prime Video keyboard shortcuts are similar to the Netflix and Hulu keyboard shortcuts. I consider this a good thing; it appears that an industry standard has developed. This is definitely a break for the user. YouTube also appears to be the same way.
  • Space bar = Pause / Play (toggle) - Also works on YouTube in certain screen modes)
  • M = Mute / Un-mute (toggle) - Also works on YouTube)
  • F = Full-screen (double-clicking the screen also works) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Esc = Exit full-screen (or double-click again) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Left arrow = Rewinds, 10-second increments. - Also works on YouTube; (5-second increments)
  • Right arrow = Forwards, 10-second increments. - Also works on YouTube (5-second increments)

- End of Article -
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Review of Hulu Live Streaming Service - And Keyboard Hotkeys, Shortcuts

Latest update: April 14, 2021. Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

This ongoing review has gone from positive to negative to positive again.


Hulu Review

Hulu sure does love their commercials. I know this because their $5.99 Plan has so many of them. On the one hand, I do get a lot of house chores done while waiting for them to end; however, they are beginning to wear on me. To be fair, I should mention that on some videos there are no commercials at all or very few. Unfortunately on other videos, it's a veritable landslide of ads.

Ads Pattern

  • For Movies: The norm appears to be no ads, though they might throw one in at the very beginning.
  • For Series: If the series is from a cable channel that always buries their viewers in commercials, then Hulu follows that channel's pattern and does the same. However, Hulu does seem to show fewer commercials than the cable channel did when the series originally aired.
There can be exceptions all over the place as to the above two general observations. There are no doubt all sorts of behind-the-scenes parameters Hulu uses when determining how many ads to show on a given video.

The Hulu website is glitchy at times, mostly when ads are involved (update: the Google Chrome browser is the problem, not Hulu); but it works and I have found all sorts of good stuff that I've enjoyed and am enjoying watching. I have no plans to discontinue their service; I might even become fond of them. This review and the keyboard shortcuts listed below are regularly updated as Hulu continues to evolve. Hulu has over 28 million subscribers the last time I checked.

Hulu Social Media Accounts


January 2020 Update

Hulu continues to have an excellent selection of shows. I am indeed becoming fond of them. Meanwhile, the Netflix collection continues to be grim; I'm beginning to contemplate discontinuing them. Here's an updated Review of Netflix.

February 2020 Update

The constant ad glitches are starting to get on my nerves. I'm beginning to think it is an issue that won't stop.

April 2020 Update

I have regretfully discontinued my Hulu subscription. Apparently about 1 of every 5 advertisers use such high intensity bandwidth design for their ads that it stalls the video; it then claims I'm using an ad-blocker when I am not. If one wishes to subscribe to the Hulu video streaming service, I'd recommend the no-ad option only.

January 2021 Update

I received a special offer in my email and ended up re-subscribing to Hulu. Things have changed. The ads are fewer and shorter. I also made a discovery where I have to retract the previous April update. It turns out that the Google Chrome browser does not get along well with Hulu. When I used the FireFox browser, all the ad problems and other glitches disappeared. In other words, don't use the Google Chrome browser with Hulu. Use FireFox or some other browser. Meanwhile, I've discovered all sorts of new Hulu stuff to watch. Looks like I'll be hanging around for awhile.


April 2021 Update

Hulu and the Google Chrome browser seem to be getting along now. Meanwhile the number and lengths of ads seems to be inching upward though still acceptable. Also the ads still periodically stall with all browsers, whereas the videos do not.

Hulu Web Browser Keyboard Shortcuts
The Hulu keyboard shortcuts are similar to the Netflix keyboard shortcuts. I consider this a good thing; it appears that an industry standard is developing and this would definitely be a break for the user. YouTube also appears to be the same way.
  • Space bar = Pause / Play (toggle) - Also works on YouTube in certain screen modes)
  • M = Mute / Un-mute (toggle) - Also works on YouTube)
  • F = Full-screen (double-clicking the screen also works) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Esc = Exit full-screen (or double-click again) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Left arrow = Rewinds, 10-second increments. - Also works on YouTube; (5-second increments)
  • Right arrow = Fast Forwards, 10-second increments. - Also works on YouTube (5-second increments)

- End of Article -

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Review of Netflix Live Streaming Service - Plus Keyboard Hotkeys Shortcuts and Tech Tips and News

Latest update: January 20, 2021. Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

This article started out years ago as a list of Netflix keyboard shortcuts and some tech tips. The news items and the short reviews were added later. This Netflix review has gone from positive to negative to positive again. Netflix is certainly having its ups and downs.


Here are the Netflix and some of the YouTube keyboard shortcuts. Darned convenient they are. My mouse sent me a thank you note when I discovered "m" and the space bar.

Netflix and YouTube Keyboard Shortcuts

  • M = Mute/Un-mute (toggle) - Also works on YouTube
  • Up arrow = Volume Up - Also works on YouTube
  • Down arrow = Volume Down - Also works on YouTube
  • Space bar = Pause/Play (toggle) - Also works on YouTube in certain screen modes
  • Enter = Pause/Play (toggle)
  • Not a keyboard shortcut, but clicking anywhere on the screen also does pause/play
    • F = Full-screen (double-clicking the screen also works) - Also works on YouTube
    • Esc = Exit full-screen (or double-click again) - Also works on YouTube
    • Left arrow = Rewinds 10 seconds each click (space bar may be needed to re-initiate play) - Also works on YouTube, 5 second increments
    • Right arrow = Fast Forwards 10 seconds each click (space bar may be needed to re-initiate play) - Also works on YouTube, 5 second increments
    • Shift+Left arrow = Rewind (keeps going until you hit space bar)
    • Shift+Right arrow = Fast Forward (keeps going until you hit space bar)

    Netflix Video Stuck?

    On occasion, I've experienced the video suddenly just stops playing. The computer, modem, and internet are all still fine; but for whatever reason, the video has stopped and most of the icons and keyboard shortcuts have become unresponsive. For me, clicking the 10-second-forward icon kick starts things back to normal. The keyboard right-arrow key may do the same. Much more convenient than closing and reopening the tab/window.

    Netflix Keyboard Functionality

    I've also noticed the Netflix keyboard key assignment functions stop working occasionally. I'm guessing this is because I have other Windows tabs open. When I go to those tabs, sometimes the website or application there resets the keys back to browser default; or maybe it is the browser itself doing it. Sometimes Netflix will reset the keyboard shortcuts back on when I return, but sometimes they apparently don't. Fortunately, I noticed using the mouse to click something once when I return usually resets the keys back to what Netflix wants them to be. Worst case scenario and if worth the bother, simply go back to browse and then back to whatever you were watching; this should reset the key shortcuts functions back on.

    If there is more information about the Netflix keyboard shortcuts, here's the latest from Netflix.

    If there is more information about the YouTube keyboard shortcuts, here's the latest from Google.

    Netflix Access Tech Note

    Netflix has served me well for years. Amazingly, it also works just fine when using landline DSL; broadband not required. However, be forewarned that a telephone company technician told me such is not the case for everyone. Apparently, it all depends on how close the telephone company substation is to your place of residence.

    Netflix Social Media Accounts

    If interested, here are Netflix's Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest social media accounts.

    Netflix Random News Items

    As of October 2019; news media reports that Netflix has over 158 million global subscribers, but that major competition is afoot. Apparently, there will be four or five major competitors who will come upon on the scene within the next year. This can be both bad and good for subscribers:
    • Good: more competition is usually better for the consumer.
    • Bad: much of the video programming that has been available to Netflix will be withdrawn from Netflix and only be available to the consumer via Netflix's competitors. In other words, each video streaming service will have their own special group of shows. It looks like there will be very little cross-platform sharing. This means consumers will have a limited selection with any one service. If one wants a decent selection, the only recourse will be to subscribe to multiple services

    Ongoing Netflix News and Review Notes

    January 2020 Update

    The selection of shows on Netflix has indeed dwindled considerably. The quality has also dropped significantly. When they report their number of subscribers next quarter, the stock price is probably going to take a major hit. Meanwhile, here's a Review of Hulu. I recently discovered them and their selection of shows already appears to be better than Netflix's. The internet is the internet, the only constant is change.

    February 2020 Update

    The selection and quality continues to be miserable. I really hate to pull the plug on them after all these years, but it's been weeks since I've found anything worth watching. Whenever I do click anything that looks promising, I inevitably end up aborting it within five minutes. I've got four days before the next renewal date to decide.

    An update to the update. Sadly, I have indeed canceled the account. I'll actually remember them fondly for all the good years. Who knows? I might even sign up with them again sometime in the future. No doubt I'll be receiving promotional emails from them in the coming months. Needless to say, it would be pointless to sign back up with them anytime soon. They'll probably need at least six months to turn things around, if ever. Time will tell.

    April 2020 Update

    Netflix to raise a billion dollars in new funding for  more original, new programming. Netflix has seen the writing on the wall and is more than ready, willing, and able to compete. I can see the day where I'll be willing to come back and subscribe to see how they are doing.

    July 2020 Update

    I have re-subscribed to Netflix. What with society being turned upside down due to the apparently neverending COVID-19 pandemic, Netflix business is once again booming. And I'm happy to say, I'm finding all sorts of new things to watch.

    August 2020 Update

    Netflix is now using a shuffle button. Apparently I'm not their only bored customer: CNN article.

    January 2021 Update

    Due to the pandemic, Netflix now has over 204 million subscribers worldwide. When that news came out, their stock jumped up over 10%. Meanwhile the fierce competition in the video streaming industry continues, Disney in particular is giving Netflix a run for their money. Hulu is also a player. I am still subscribed to both Netflix and Hulu, both are currently worth the price.

    - End of Article -

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