I've been fiddling with the iPad in a relatively non-directed way. I say relatively, because by the end of the day, I had incoming (easy) and outgoing (puzzlingly difficult to get this to actually work -- I still don't know which setting I had wrong much less what fixed it. *shrug*) mail set up, downloaded the kindle app, downloaded weatherstation and the farmville app and bought a single edition of The Nation. I'd fired up the browser a few times, and synced with my computer so my itunes catalog is now on it. I think I checked out the mapping app, but I haven't run YouTube yet.
I had to actually set up an itunes store account, which I had never done before. And looking at the itunes storefront, or whatever passes for that, I felt perversely compelled to buy the advertised V.V. Brown, who I had heard and watched on Jools Holland's show. That is such a weird reaction, that I put the iPad away for a while to go contemplate just what the video on demand options are out there.
Back when I was catching up on NCIS, I exploited some of these, but refrained from buying episodes from Amazon's service, because it seemed to expensive, compared to getting the netflix discs. And I'm still having that feeling. Even cheap episodes are $1.99, and more typically $2.99 -- if you look at what it costs to buy a season on disc through Amazon, it seems like each show should be around $1.80 or so, which makes the $2 seem okay and the $3 sort of offensive. The apple version of video on demand gives no break on buying a full season; at least some of the time, Amazon will give you a break on the price to buy the full season (altho the amount of savings they say you get vs. what my math tells me I'm getting does not match. At all.). I was extremely uncertain how apple curates purchases -- I've been told they don't, and if you lose something, you can't re-download it free of charge. I have not yet investigated the truth of that. Amazon definitely curates; I bought an episode of Eureka on our Tivo HD. And this is where things get really weird: I bought it in HD for $2.99. When I looked in my Amazon Video On Demand library where Things Live Forever (in theory), I had both the HD and the regular version. When I later bought two more episodes (using some promo codes, one of which was from today's purchase, and one of which was from something else a while back), I didn't realize the difference between HD and regular, and bought the episodes in regular format, for $1.99 each. This was also the point at which I saw the break on the full season price.
So there's definitely some potential for confusion. That potential turns out to be aggravated on my laptop, in that there seems to be a display problem with the full season list on Firefox on my mac: it only shows episodes 1-11. Safari displays it correctly, so if I want to buy episode 12 (I just did), I either would have had to interrupt my husband watching cycling (surprise) or use safari (which is what I did). That used up the remaining .02 of my applicable promo code, but I now have the rest of season 1 to watch at will.
What have I learned from all this? So far, the takeaway on video matches the ebook experience: apple stores provide huge temptation, but Amazon is the same price or cheaper, and I know how to recover from data loss with Amazon. Also, I know that I can watch the Amazon content on my Tivo, my laptop, my iPad. That might be possible with itunes; I'll let you know if I find out.