Amazon Instant Video's X-Ray Nails the Second-Screen Experience

When my family sits down to watch a movie, inevitably there comes a time when we want to know the name of an actor, where the movie was filmed, or other information. It’s a rare occasion that we don’t open the IMDB (internet movie database) mobile app and look up an actor or information about a film. The Amazon Instant Video X-ray feature was made for us. X-ray is accessed in the Kindle Fire video app when watching Amazon Instant Video on a Fire TV or Wii U. It provides information in sync with movie playback, using the Amazon-owned IMDB in a whole new way.

Unlike other second screen experiences that show the cast and crew and information about a movie or TV show that is currently playing, X-ray is dynamic, changing with each scene. In fact, it changes within each scene. As actors appear in a scene, their name, photo, and character pop up on the Kindle’s video app. Tapping on an actor’s photo brings up their biography and filmography. If you are bored with the current film, you can click another movie in the actor’s list to rent or buy to watch instantly, or you can add the other films to your Amazon watchlist. It was amusing to watch actors appear on the Kindle when they entered a scene, and disappear when they left. So far, I’ve noted that every actor with a speaking part is listed. It’s great for those actors who you know you’ve seen before but don’t remember their other movies or their name. X-ray is so much easier than searching through the movie’s full cast list.

When viewing using the “In Scene” mode, X-Ray also includes a sentence synopsis of the current scene along with trivia about filming locations, interesting tidbits, and goofs—mistakes in continuity problems, period costumes, and so forth. The fourth tab in the Kindle Amazon App shows the music that is being played in a scene. Along with identifying the song and the artist, this feature gives you the opportunity to immediately buy the digital song or album from Amazon’s music store.

A full list of the movie’s actors, trivia, and music can be accessed at any time. Each item in the trivia list has a button that jumps to the corresponding scene. There is also a “jump to scene” button in the music list or you can buy the song directly from the list.

X-ray also offers playback control that includes a ten second replay, and a timeline scrub bar that displays screen shots so you can find the exact scene you want in the movie.

Yes, it is opportunistic for Amazon to use the Kindle’s second screen app for instant sales of movies and music. One can only imagine that their next step will be to highlight trendy clothing or tech in a movie or TV show that can be delivered to your door from the Amazon marketplace. Still, I appreciate the convenience of instantly buying a song that I like when I hear it in a movie.

X-ray has been around for a while, but it wasn’t until I got a Kindle Fire HD to use with my new Amazon Fire TV, that I got to try out the feature. It has won me over, and from now on I will be streaming videos that include X-ray in Amazon Prime Instant Video.