Do you want to check out the series finale of Fringe after a day of exploring the best of Barcelona? Then, this is the service for you. Sort of.
The top line
Most television and movie streaming services are geographically limited because of copyright restrictions. Essentially, this means that the latest episode of The Daily Show on HuluPlus can’t be viewed by someone living in Nicaragua.
UnoDNS promises that you can watch your favorite video content from the web, even if you are in areas where those sites are restricted. The service does exactly what it says it does. Unfortunately, that’s not as interesting as it sounds.
What it is
UnoTelly provides you with a DNS (Domain Name Server) address that tricks certain websites into thinking you’re in a different country. Because they use an adjustment to your DNS, it’s a bit simpler than routing all of your internet activity through a VPN.*
And while the company touts that as a benefit, it’s also a pretty substantial limitation. There are a lot of reasons to use a VPN while you travel, but UnoDNS only has one purpose – letting you watch the library of content on a selection of media sites.
What it provides
With UnoDNS you can get access to a sizable list of media sites, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBOGo, NFL.com, Pandora, Spotify and more. If you have subscriptions to any of those, then you’ll be able to access them from wherever you might be. You DO have to have any necessary subscriptions for those sites, however.
You can also get access to the free content on many network sites, such as ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, the BBC iplayer and dozens of others from several countries. This does NOT give you access to all of the programs you might want – only the ones those sites offer as part of their public archive, which is typically only a few episodes of select programs.
Where it lacks
UnoDNS isn’t software, so it requires manually changing the DNS address in your computer’s network TCP/IP settings. It’s not all that difficult, but people who are minimally tech savvy may be frightened away because there’s not a pop-up box and a button that says “install.”
The content you can access is limited to the libraries provided on the sites. Don’t mistake that for being able to access live broadcasts of the networks they list. You can’t pull up the CBS feed and watch the shows airing on that channel – they’re only viewable when they are posted on the CBS website for public viewing.
While mobile devices are technically supported, several of the media sites use Flash players for the content they provide. This creates a problem for many tablets and phones that don’t include Flash viewers (we’re looking at YOU, iPad).
Being more restrictive than a VPN causes some issues. For example, while UnoDNS supports Spotify, many Spotify accounts are tied to a Facebook log-in. With Facebook’s inaccessibility in places like China, you would still need a VPN to get to your Spotify account.
The program selection is not comprehensive. There are a lot and I imagine they’re adding more, but if you are a fan of the Kardashians or Honey Boo-Boo, you won’t find E! or TLC because they don’t offer full episodes on their websites. But then again, if you watch those shows, you deserve to suffer.
There aren’t any file-sharing style piracy issues by using UnoDNS, but using any service to bypass geographic restrictions does have copyright implications you should consider. At the very least, you may be breaking the Terms of Service of your streaming accounts.
Who would benefit from UnoDNS
The service isn’t really of great benefit for short term travelers. Even if you WANT to watch a favorite show or movie while you’re on a 2 week holiday, are you going to sign up to pay a monthly fee to do it?
However, it could be ideal for expats who are longing for television from home – especially those who already have accounts with Netflix or HuluPlus. UnoDNS is cheaper than a decent VPN, so if you live in a country that doesn’t have any other restrictions on the sites you can access, then it could work for you.
For longer term travelers, there are just too many reasons to spend a few dollars more to get a full VPN, which you can read more about here.
All that said, the company does currently offer a free trial for 8 days, with no credit card necessary. So, if you want to give it a shot, you can find it at UnoTelly.com.
*Note: UnoTelly does offer a package that includes a VPN for an additional fee.