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Ever since I installed Google Chrome my Amazon Instant Video Player only streams on the lowest bitrate.

Somehow the pepper-flash messed with HAL in Firefox:

"Our developers stated this: It appears that Pepper Flash (bundled with Chrome) is conflicting with the standard NPAPI and ActiveX Flash plugins. To resolve this problem remove all Adobe Flash components/plugins and completely remove Chrome. After, reinstall Flash(latest version). Make sure that you still have Google Chrome off of the computer, since one of the root causes seem to be that Pepper Flash (bundled with Chrome) is causing this. You can now either use Firefox or IE, and update the flash on one of those browsers and see if that works. Another user with this issue used IE9 34 bit and 64 bit version both, and they both streamed at 2500 kbps BW in 720p. They were getting the good old 348 before that. They later reinstalled Chrome(which is preloaded with Flash) and the issue repeated itself and therefore the only option was to remove Chrome again."

Here is the thread

I tried everything: purging/reinstalling HAL, purging chrome, purging/reinstalling firefox.

If anyone has any suggestions I'd love to know.

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I can't offer a direct solution to your problem, but I hope this background information clarifies what's going on.

In September, 2015 Chrome plans to drop support entirely for NPAPI plugins, such as Amazon Video. NPAPI (the "N" stands for "Netscape") is an ancient standard that exposes sensitive browser structures and has been the source of many browser vulnerabilities.

NPAPI support is disabled by default in Chrome since April, 2015 (version 42). However, as a temporary workaround you can enable a flag. Here's how:

  • Go to chrome://flags/#enable-npapi

  • Choose Enable.

  • At the bottom left of your screen, click Relaunch Now.

You can use this flag to run NPAPI plugins until Chrome version 45

Netflix got with the program and implemented a new method of streaming that doesn't depend on NPAPI. On the other hand, Amazon is telling its (gullible?) customers to switch to a browser that supports NPAPI, without explaining the inherent risks.

You should still be able to view Amazon video under Chrome by using Flash. However, Flash supports only SD, not HD, streams. And, you should be able to view Netflix. If so, Chrome is doing all it can currently do. If either of these tests fails, there may be value in fiddling with your Chrome configuration.

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