Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

UnoTelly For Your Netflix Fix

_DSC0966Many content stream services implement geo-blocks to prevent access from users outside specific geographies. This is often due to content licensing requirements. I previously published a post about using VPN services to get around this block. Another popular solution is to use a smart DNS service designed to circumvent geo-restrictions.

UnoTelly’s UnoDNS is one such popular DNS service, and they are quite up-front about the intended use of their service, namely to unlock access to TV, film & music not available in your current location. UnoTelly boasts some 260 content channels they’ve unlocked. This includes popular services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video. It’s really cool.

Using UnoDNS is easy. For UnoTelly’s service to work, you need to get your gadgets to use their DNS servers. There are a couple of ways to do this. If you use a home broadband router, it’s probably most convenient to manually configure the DNS servers in that router to point to UnoTelly’s DNS servers, choosing the ones that are closest to you. Alternatively, you can also individually configure the DNS server settings on your computer or streaming gadget.

To UnoTelly’s credit, they do provide very comprehensive instructions for a very broad range of devices. It’s not just computers with Windows, OS X or Linux that I’m talking about. Mobile platforms like iOS and Android, streaming players like Apple TV and Western Digital TV Live, as well as just about all major brands of broadband routers, UnoTelly covers them all.

You may need to visit UnoTelly’s Quickstart page to update their server with your current public IP address. This may be inconvenient or impossible to do on some gadgets, but as long as everything is behind one home broadband router, it is sufficient to visit that page with any computer that’s connected via the same broadband router.

unotelly-shadow

The DNS magic that UnoDNS does is really quite clever. Without getting too technical, let’s just say that UnoDNS uses DNS tricks to “intercept” selected traffic from your computer, and proxy them through a server located in the right geographical region, and then relaying them to the streaming service. This makes the streaming service think that you are in an authorised geographical region.

VPN services, on the other hand, transport all your Internet traffic to a VPN server located in the new geographical region before it emerges onto the Internet. This can prove to be rather inefficient because everything is pushed through a VPN server, whether or not it is actually required.

The two methods, DNS magic and VPN, have their pros and cons. UnoTelly has to be designed to work with specific streaming services. If there are changes to the way any of the targeted streaming services work. UnoTelly needs to keep up and update their magic. It’s like a cat and mouse game. You’re out-of-luck if you want to use a service that UnoTelly does not support. UnoDNS is efficient, because only the required traffic is intercepted and re-routed.

VPN services, however, transport you into a new geographical region, so you can access any Internet site as if you were actually in that location. VPN service providers don’t need any bag of tricks, they will simply just work. The downside is that routing, and encrypting, all your Internet traffic through the VPN server could be an overkill and a bottleneck. Worse, all your traffic will probably travel a far less direct route to its destination.

A big advantage of UnoDNS over VPN services is that it’s relatively easy to setup. While VPN services often provide easy-to-use VPN clients for desktop computers and mobile devices, it’s not so easy if what you want to use is a streaming media player. Techies may be able to setup VPN routers or configure VPN sharing on desktop computers, but this may be too difficult for novice users.

Do I recommend UnoTelly’s UnoDNS service? For novice users wanting to use a media streaming player with a streaming service that’s supported by UnoTelly, this is a great solution. It simply works. More “pro” users should weigh the difference between this and a true VPN service to determine which suits them better.

UnoTelly offers a free 8-day trial. Thereafter, UnoTelly offers two plans:

  • Premium plan at US$4.95 per month: This is for UnoDNS service.
  • Gold plan at US$7.95 per month: In addition to what you get with the Premium plan, you also get UnoVPN service, which is a full VPN service to servers in multiple countries.

There are no contracts. You can cancel for a full refund within 7 days.

You need a TV, movie, or music streaming service in order to benefit from UnoTelly’s services. When you start your free trial, I recommend that you sign up for Netflix and Hulu. They both also provide free trials, for 7 days, before your credit card gets charged. This should give you a taste of the services you’ve been missing in Singapore.

It’s Singapore’s National Day tomorrow. Some folks get Monday off right? So what better time than this long weekend to start trying out UnoTelly.

Disclosure: UnoTelly provided a lifetime Gold plan account for this review.

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