OK, let’s face it – as much as we love traveling to experience new cultures and ways of life, there are times when we would like to be connected to home media. For our family, even though we’re not big t.v. watchers, we become a bit fanatical when the Olympics come around. Last Olympics I discovered the web-site NBCOlympics.com and fell instantly in love because it meant I could watch the sports I loved (not only what was chosen for t.v. coverage) and watch as much as I wanted without interruption.
This year we are in Mexico during the Olympics and have discovered that our local stations are not big on covering this event.
However, where there is a will there is a way! A quick trip to the internet revealed that there is free software available that will allow you to mask your IP Address. In essence, it assigns you a U.S. IP address and voila! – the world of U.S. internet media is open to you!
The most talked about of these services, and the one we chose, is HotSpot Shield. Hotspot Shield is a free download, is easy to install and use.
Another such service is UltraSurf. Supposedly this works similarly to HotSpot Shield but has been reported to be a bit less reliable. However, I have reason to believe this information is a bit dated, so it may be more reliable now.
Here are the pros and cons of HotSpot Shield we’ve found so far.
- We can watch U.S. Olympic coverage on nbcolympics.com
- We can watch our favorite movies and tv shows via Netflix and Hulu
- It works easily on my daughters’ new Gateway laptops
- It’s free!
- You can turn the privacy function on and off
- It did not install correctly and was unusable on my older Fujitsu Lifebook.
- HotSpot Shield creates a pop-up ad at the top of every page you visit when you have your privacy turned on and some of these ads are for porn sites. (however, you can turn privacy off when you are surfing the web and not wanting to watch media).
- It has a bit of a bug that reverts you back to an AnchorFree page (AnchorFree appears to be part of the Hotspot Shield business) occasionally when you type in a url. You then have to type your url a second time to get what you’re looking for.
- I cannot access secure sites such as my bank with the privacy on. I must remember to turn it off.
- We may learn Spanish at a slower rate watching American tv!
All in all, despite the bugs and the ads we are really happy to have access to the media we were blocked from before. If you’re homesick for a Netflix show or want to see the latest Olympic event try it out.
P.S. – I have only tested this technology for sites that are blocked if you are outside the U.S.. Since you are being assigned a U.S. IP Address, it may not help you to view sites that are blocked from other countries. I was not able to find information on how to do this. I’m sorry. However, it will enable you to access U.S. sites.
Photo by: Ginnerobot