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Amazon Prime – is now the time to subscribe?

Amazon Prime has added even more services to its ever-expanding range. We take a look at what else you get for £79 a year to find out whether it's worth having.

Since Amazon controversially hiked the price of its Amazon Prime subscription to £79 a year in March 2014 it’s added a whole range of new services and features, such as Prime Now and Kindle Lending Library, to make the annual fee feel more worthwhile – but what do you get and is it a good deal?

The latest addition is Amazon Pantry, a service where members can purchase common items, including food, drink, and household supplies, and have them delivered directly to their doorstep.

That’s certainly very convenient but is it enough to convince you to sign up? We’ve rounded up the service’s most eye-catching features so you can decide for yourself.

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What does Amazon Prime include?

Amazon Prime Now – Get super-speedy delivery within two hours in selected postcodes as part of your membership or pay £6.99 for delivery within one hour. At the moment, the service can only be used via a free smartphone or tablet app. If you tend to do your internet shopping on a PC, you’ll need to complete your purchase on a mobile device. That said, the app’s interface is simple to use and searching for and selecting products to buy is a doddle.

Prime Early Access – Always on the lookout for a good bargain? Prime members are now eligible for 30-minute-early access to Lightning Deals on amazon.co.uk. If a Lightning Deal is a Prime Early Access deal it will also say so in the ‘Add to Basket’ box on the product detail page. However, you’ll have to be quick as some deals sell out before the end of the early access period.

Amazon Pantry – Never run out of toilet paper again with Amazon’s Pantry service for Prime members. Delivered to your doorstep, you’re able to fill a Pantry box with up to 20kg of groceries from a list of over 4,000 items, including food, drink, and household supplies. Delivery of the first box costs £2.99 with additional boxes charged at 99p.

Amazon Household – If you have another Amazon shopper living under your roof, include them in your Prime benefits by creating an Amazon Household. This means you can share your membership with one adult member of your household, with all of the delivery benefits, plus access to Prime Video streaming and the Kindle Lending Library.

Books – If you’re an avid reader you’ll be churning through books quickly. However, if you’re a Kindle owner (this feature doesn’t work for Kindle app users), new books at no additional cost are only a click away. Kindle Owners’ Lending Library gives members within the UK access to borrow one book per month. Furthermore, Kindle First is another advantage for Prime members, which provides early access to download a new book every month from the Kindle First picks, also at no additional cost.

One-day delivery – Prime’s original raison d’être, free next-day delivery is available on the vast majority of Amazon’s in-stock items to most mainland UK addresses. If you can only receive deliveries at certain times of day and live in one of the UK’s bigger cities, for an extra cost you can request more specific scheduled or evening deliveries. And, with Prime Now, Amazon is offering even greater flexibility to members in selected postcodes.

Prime Video – Much like Netflix or Blinkbox, Prime Instant Video offers thousands of films, TV programmes and box sets to watch on demand through a laptop, tablet, smartphone, smart TV, TV streamer or games console. And – again like Netflix – Amazon is commissioning its own original content so it can offer exclusive programmes. It already shows the award-winning US comedy Transparent, picked up Ripper Street from the BBC and bagged Jeremy Clarkson and co to make a new Top Gear-style show for petrolheads.

Prime Music – Not content with competing against Netflix, Amazon’s music streaming service pits it head to head with Spotify and Apple Music. It has around a million songs on offer, which can be streamed, stored and managed anywhere from the cloud on mobile devices or your PC.

Prime Photos – If you’re prone to trigger happiness with your camera or smartphone, Prime Photos will provide a capacious new home for your snaps. The digital equivalent to having mountains of shoe boxes full of photos in your attic, Prime users can now store unlimited photos on Amazon’s Cloud Drive.

Amazon Prime Day deals – To mark its 20th birthday, Amazon held its first annual ‘one-day global shopping event’ last July, offering hundreds of product discounts exclusively to Prime members. Although many of the low-cost items on offer were slated for their undesirability, there were still major reductions on gadgets, such as smartwatches, cameras, laptops and games consoles, as well as Amazon’s own-brand Kindle ebook readers, and Fire tablets and TV streamers.

The verdict – is it worth subscribing to Amazon Prime?

Next-day delivery and a limited selection of on-demand videos seemed like a small reward when Amazon first announced that it would be charging £79 for its Prime membership. But the brand has radically improved the Prime proposition since then as it strives to be the ultimate one-stop shop.

The brand certainly has fingers in a lot of pies, and its next-day delivery service is not to be sniffed at if you do a lot of shopping online. However both its video and music streaming services are still pipped by better services elsewhere.

The breadth and originality of Netflix’s catalogue gives it the edge for TV and, with only a fraction of the tunes that Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play have to offer (roughly 30 million apiece), Amazon’s library lacks the diversity of its rivals.

Still, for less than £7 a month it beats those services on price and throws in a bunch of extras that may swing the balance for you – especially if you live in a Prime Now postcode and lack the patience or the ability to plan ahead very far. Of course, you can always try Amazon Prime for free as part of a one-month trial.

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