Amazon Appstore for Android Test Drive hands on: surprisingly cool, but still US-only
Before you get your hopes up, Test Drive doesn't work with every app. The IMDb app works fine -- you can even watch movie trailers on it! -- but the Angry Birds games are sadly not enabled. Some games work surprisingly well, though, like Bubble Buster. There's very little latency, and the framerate is really rather good. The Test Drive experience is so true to life that you even get ads; how cool is that?
As for how Test Drive works, it goes something like this: Test Drive launches a virtualized instance of Android in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). The virtual phone seems to be running a customized -- but fairly standard -- version of Android 2.2.1, and you can actually escape from apps to the home screen. You can even open up the Web browser and surf the Amazon website -- but keyboard input seems to be disabled, so you can't navigate to custom websites.
Android SDK, you'll be amazed at how fast Test Drive pops up, and the minimal latency is almost miraculous. The only real problem -- and you've probably seen this one coming -- is that the Test Drive is currently restricted to the U.S.
We circumvented the geo restriction by using the Cocoon add-on for Firefox, but any other proxy or VPN should work just fine.