The world is full of great entertainment, music, television, movies, games. You name it and someone somewhere has put it together for our enjoyment. The one massive obstacle to our participation in this fun fest is the army of lawyers and accountants currently blocking all attempts to allow unfettered access to the content, in order to protect their fading business models. And this is not about piracy, it doesn’t even matter if you’re happy to pay, they still won’t let you.
The result is one part frustration, one part anger and 8 parts ‘let’s do it anyway’, and that’s where the excellent Unotelly service comes into play. This new Canadian based service provides a sophisticated DNS routing system which allows anyone to access content legally across borders on their computers and mobile devices. There’s no pirating involved, you need to be either accessing free content, or content that you have a legitimate subscription for, but if you do, then you’re no longer barred from watching or listening just because you’re in a different country or continent.
There are about 70 channels of entertainment available, ranging from Netflix, the BBC, Spotify, ESPN, Amazon Instant Video and more. The system works by using a set of DNS servers around the world to channel the content to the user, bypassing the blockades set up by the providers. Once you have the system set up on your phone, computer or games console, you can access any of the channels from any country as long as you have a browser and a web connection, which is an improvement over standard VPN systems which run only on specific devices and configurations.
In operation it’s similar to the free Tunlr.net service we featured a while ago, but in this case, because it’s a commercial fee paying service you get premium results. The delivery of HD video resolution is first class, no degradation in quality at all, no jitters and no loss of sound or signal. It’s as though you’re accessing the programs from next door. And because the service is focused strictly on the channels it serves, there’s no degradation of your existing Internet connection as there can be with standard VPN alternatives, the net runs as fast as ever on your device or computer.
Set up can be a tad fiddly if you’re a technophobe, although there’s a simple freeware download for Windows users, which helps to make the whole process a one button-click affair. The system supports Mac and Linux too, since it’s just making DNS server changes, and if you have multiple computers and devices in your home network, you can change settings on the broadband router itself and instantly get access to all the channels from any device in the building. The support site contains a large number of easy to understand configuration tutorials for every situation, which makes it much easier to get going quickly.
The company behind the tech is pitching this to anyone who wants to watch content from the US, Canada or UK from outside those countries; for example ex-pats, those on vacation or business trips, and those who like to access their home subscriptions from their tablet computers or smartphones on the move. In practice we found that access to some of the video content on smartphones was a little patchy, not because of Unotelly, but because the content providers deliberately restrict playback on mobile devices in many cases. More lawyer control in action?
There’s no streaming bandwidth cap, the speeds are at the 1000Mbit level and it works on Android, iOS, Roku, XBox 360, Playstation, smart TVs, Blu-Ray players, you name it. There’s no minimum sign up period, and there’s a free plan which lets you access 13 channels of content including Rdio, Pandora, Bloomberg, MTV, CBS TV and more. Paid plans start at $4.95 a month via Paypal or credit card.
We found the service to be top notch, with amazingly high quality resolution and playback of both audio and video. You have to remember also that you need an account with the premium content channels like HuluPlus of Vudu, which is not easy to do if you’re not a native resident of the USA, so that might restrict your choices a little, but no doubt there are ways around that (get an American friend to subscribe for you?). Overall this is a perfect example yet again of how easy it would be to provide a world class global entertainment service without spending billions of dollars on infrastructure, if only the industries concerned would catch up to the new millennium.
The more we see these new innovative options pop up, the more we’re convinced that one day it will happen, maybe only when all the current generation of suits are dead or retired, but it will happen. Won’t that be fun?