May 15, 2012

Watch Your Favorite Movies Anywhere with UnoTelly

Update September 2016: You now get Netflix in South Africa without the need for the DNS address fix described below. All you need to do is create a Netflix account using your South African credit card, and you can watch a selection of Netflix shows via the Netflix app, on your computer, or on your TV using a streaming device such as Roku, Google Chromecast, Apple TV, or a SmartTV. However, if you want to see the exact same shows as available in the U.S., I believe UnoTelly might still prove to be useful, as it makes your computer or streaming device look as if it's located in the U.S. It's a better option than a VPN, which in many cases is detected and blocked by Netflix. So, should you want more options than Netflix gives you outright for South African viewing, read on.

***

As I told you in my last post, our family has been in TV nirwana for the last week, watching the latest Office episodes and a host of more or less free movies to our hearts' content. All courtesy of UnoTelly, a relatively new DNS-based subscription service allowing you to access a wide range of US- and UK-based TV channels from overseas.

Doesn't this look just a wee bit tempting? From UnoTelly website

This post will show you how to make it work for you.

Just to be upfront about it, this is not a comprehensive comparison of DNS services. I did not test anything but UnoTelly, who had contacted me about reviewing their product. If this is one-sided, so be it. It works for me.

The way UnoTelly works is by giving you a DNS-address to enter in your computer and all the other devices you might use in your home for streaming content, such as Wii, PS3, xBox 360, Blu-Ray DVD player, Android, iPad, Apple TV, etc. It's fairly straightforward to set up. In fact, all I had to do was run the setup wizard on our three computers and then manually enter the 2 DNS addresses they give you in our router (the only part a bit tricky if you're not accustomed to accessing your router), and voila: Netflix (and others) automatically appeared on the xBox as well as Noisette's iPad. It would also have appeared on our TV if we had a network-enabled TV or a Blu-Ray player, but as it is I will have to buy a device such as Roku. More on that later.

As I've said before, the alternative to this DNS-based system is a VPN-service, and those have been around for some time. The problem with them, apparently, is speed - they can slow down your system to a crawl, since everything is routed through their servers. Not something you can tolerate here in South Africa, where everything seems to be close to a crawl already! If you are currently using a VPN service or are thinking about setting one up, see what UnoTelly says about the comparison here (or Google the differences youself for a more unbiased view).

Let's get started on setting this up (but read the entire post first, as I'm giving you some coupon codes at the end):

Step 1: Visit the UnoTelly website and sign up, for FREE. This is a very nice feature. You get their Gold service for an 8-day trial, giving you full access to all the premium and gold channels. Just make sure you have enough time to watch some TV the following week, so as to try out the full features before having to make a decision which service you like. After your free trial has expired, UnoTelly offers 3-tier pricing (payable via PayPal or credit card):

FREE: No cost, working just on your computer and a limited range of channels
PREMIUM: $4.95 per month, working on computer as well as mobile, TV, tablet and premium channels
GOLD: $7.95 per month, same devices as premium service but also access to gold channels

Step 2: Start the Setup Wizard and follow the instructions. It is important to set up everything on your computer first, before setting it up on other devices. I can't remember precisely what it was that I did here, but it involved setting up an authorized network using my IP address, and then entering the two DNS addresses provided by UnoTelly into the network properties on my computer. If you can't find the DNS addresses applicable to you, click here to find them. You might be prompted to download Microsoft Silverlight at some point, just click yes and proceed.

Step 3: Go to the Quickstart page to make sure that you are up and running. From there, if you want, follow the instructions to enter the DNS addresses on any additional computers, as well as on your router.


At this point, you should be good to go. Go to the Hulu website and see if it works. Without UnoDNS you would have gotten a message such as "sorry, this content not available in your viewing area" or something of the sort. Try the same with the Netflix website. For some reason I had trouble linking to Netflix initially, but downloading and using Firefox as a browser fixed the problem (not sure why, because now Chrome works fine as well, though Firefox might be a tad faster).

Check out all the other channels on the UnoTelly website and browse to your heart's content. Some of them will still cost extra money, for instance while Hulu is free, you might want to upgrade (and pay for) HD content on Hulu Plus. And Netflix costs $7.99 per month. But that's still a fraction of what you pay for Multichoice here in South Africa, and it gets you unlimited movie streaming. Skip the next step if you already have a Netflix account (you just might have to reactivate it).

Step 4: Signing up for Netflix if you're living outside the United States is something I haven't done, as we already have an account (based on our mailing and credit card address there) so I'll refer you to this article on how to do it. It involves a few steps, including obtaining a virtual Visa card, but it sounds simple enough.

Step 5: If, like we, you have a TV in your house that's neither hooked up to a Blu-Ray DVD player or a Wii or xBox, then you might have to buy an additional device to stream your newly acquired channels to that TV. I've determined that Roku 2 XS 1080p Streaming Player is the best of about five such devices, but read for yourself in this excellent comparison on DeviceGuru.

That's it. I wish you happy channel surfing with your newfound freedom. If you are among the first five readers to sign up, you will receive a 25% discount by using "joburgexpat" as your coupon code. This may not sound like much on a $7.95 service, however if you choose to pay for one year, you get the same discount on the entire amount.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did, all I ask in return is that you use the Amazon links in this post should you choose to purchase a Roku device. Even if you end up buying something else it will benefit me. You can also use the Amazon launch box in the right column. Thanks!

26 comments :

Altus said...

Hi Sine

Worked fabulously for me and I have been trying for years to get the BBC Iplayer. Unfortunately, as one of your SA readers, I dont have a US credit card and therefore cant get hulu or netflix.

But the it is brilliant for the Iplayer.

the admin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the admin said...

Unotelly will only unblock the services listed on their site. With a VPN you can unblock any service from around the world. Netflix USA

Sine said...

@Altus: have you read that article under Step 4 that addresses this problem? Apparently that Entro Visa card, or whatever it's called, solves that, and it didn't seem too difficult. I've also read somewhere else that you can get a fake US postal address for just such a purpose, but that seemed a bit dodgy to me. I would google "how to obtain US postal address" or something of the sort if that's the only thing keeping you from getting Netflix. Glad to know it works for the iPlayer. Did you just sign up based on my article or have you had it for a while?

Sine said...

@admin: Yes, I understand that that's true, however I also understand that VPN slows down your internet quite a bit, because of rerouting everything through dedicated servers, something UnoTelly or Unblock-US doesn't do. I think everyone should check out the channel list and see if they're happy with it.

Stephanie said...

We have HMA (Hide My Ass) that we use as a VPN but I showed my husband this post and he checked it out. Since our blu ray player is already pre wired for Netflix and Pandora, we can now use that to watch and listen to music whereas with HMA we had to use a computer as the "middle man". So we are converting! :-) Thanks!

Sine said...

Very cool! I don't often get to advise and convert the "techies" so I'm especially pleased to hear this. Let me know how it works out! I'm still learning as we go along...

Roger said...

@Altus,

You can actually use a virtual US card to sign up for Netflix and Hulu. The caveat is that you pay a 5% premium if you go with this route.

Sine said...

By the way, UnoTelly tells me that they are going to offer a VPN service soon, to give both options to their customers. I'll let you know when they do.

Anonymous said...

I am studying your blog like my life depends on it! So grateful for all the candid topics. I am the last American to not have a Netflix subscription, or an iPhone for that matter... Since we are moving to ZA in a month, should I get a Netflix acct while I am here? Not sure how the billing will work? Also, My mother is begging for a post on how daughters and grandchildren can call the US cheap. Skype is not an option as she has horrific Internet service.

Sine said...

Haha, I always thought I was the last American not to have new gadgets:-)

As for the Netflix account, it's just as easy to set it up from here once you DO Have the service explained here, and if you DON'T have this service then Netflix won't do you much good. But I guess it won't hurt to go ahead and set it up. You WILL need a US_based credit card for billing purposes, just use your existing address as your billing address. Or your office address. Or your mom's address. Just some US address that is linked to your credit card.

Not sure on the cheap calling plan, they DO exist I'm sure, I will ask around for you. Maybe another thing for me to review for free:-)

Good luck with your move, contact me (tab above) directly if you have any questions.

Sine said...

Okay, this from a friend:

"I once tried the vouchers from Woolies called Nobel.com they require that you dial a local number then a pin number then the number you are calling. I used it for Australia. It was ok, just average really. Sometimes I had echo and feed back. I think you could try WorldChat that can be bought at Shoprite Checkers. Telkom also offers a prepaid calling card WorldCall in various denominations."

You could also try Call2 - I found it online and contacted them to do a review, will let you know if I hear anything.

Stephanie said...

If you don't mind paying US$29.99 a month, get your phone number in the USA from vonage.com, that way it is a local number. Then you just bring the machine that hooks into your DSL (granted on the SA end you have to have high speed access) and use the phone. It includes free international land line calls. This works to your benefit in 2 ways. One, this way you have a local number/US number for people to contact you on and 2) you can make SA phone calls from it. When I dial landline numbers (that aren't toll free) in South Africa, I use our vonage based phone because it doesn't cost anything (rather is included in the $29.99 a month). Whereas if I used our SA land line phone, it charges for any phone calls you make like the USA did years ago. I also have friends in New Zealand and the UK that I can call with my vonage phone for free. It's also nice that my family and friends in the USA can just call us rather than having to be hooked into a computer. Also, it's handy if you do have to deal with things in the USA like calling banks, student loan companies, etc. Also look into www.joinvip.com which is a calling card. We used them to call SA when we lived in the States before we had vonage.

Sine said...

Thanks so much Stephanie. I know you had mentioned that when we met but I didn't quite understand it then. Wouldn't that also save you one of your Telkom expenses on this end? Like doing away with your Telkom Closer plan, or whatever it is that allows you to make local and international calls? Could be well worth the $29.99. And so often you need a US phone number on a website, like PayPal or similar, where this would also be beneficial.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heap phone ideas!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the cheap phone service ideas.

Sine said...

You're welcome, I hope one of them works out for you and let me know if it does. I still need to write a blog post about that...

Anonymous said...

My Netflix resolutions are sucky. What DNS do you use? I'm on a 10MB line and I get full speeds so I dont think it's a line issue - most likely the DNS that I am using. Any advice would be awesome.

Sine said...

Not sure anymore to be honest but if you go to UnoTelly's website you can search there for the DNS addresses. There should be two. Or contact them for tech support. I'll see what I can find out. I made a comment on the other post, I think that was also you there asking the question about quality? See if that helps...

Randolf said...

Pretty amazing to see, that South Africa is on Unotelly's map. I just saw this announcement on their map: http://www.unotelly.co.za

They now got a Cape Town Nameserver on 196.41.139.189 and I find it to be blazing fast!

Sine said...

Hi Randolf, that's good news for Capetonians. So you don't feel your internet is slowed down due to the DNS server? Because I've been wondering about that. Not sure if I can pinpoint it, but our internet seems a bit slow these days.

Sophie Tyler Neil said...

Netflix worked fine for me! All I need is a mmd monitor and I'm all set!

@Anonymous July 18, 2012: Their connections are not too "sucky". Just follow Sine's instructions carefully.

NushHJ said...

Thank you for your blogs!

Is this better/quicker to use than a VPN like Hide My Ass?

We just purchased Apple TV and want to watch Netflix.

Willie Ames said...

Dont know much about uno telly but hide my ass vpn is a good option for watching Netflix outside USA.
http://www.bestvpnservice.com/providers/21/hide_my_ass!.html

W. A. Jeffrey said...

Was reading through the unotelly site and apparently the Netflix app on Roku is working a bit differently than it used to so you will have to do some tech savvy hacks (detailed on the website) in order to get it to work. A recommended alternative is to use an amazon fire tv instead.

Sine said...

Interesting. Maybe when you do move to SA, you could write a guest post about all the electronics to buy before moving there and which services to set up, so that you have cheapest/best international phone service as well as TV and internet:-)