I’ve spoken at length about VPNs and geoblocking but they are both topics that bear some repeating, so let me give you a really high-level overview.
In a nutshell, geoblocking is when specific content is blocked from view based on the country that you are trying to access it from. This can be for a variety of different reasons – iPlayer, for example, is BBCs streaming service and is free to residents in the UK as they pay a TV license fee to the BBC. Unfortunately, if you are a UK citizen living abroad, you are blocked from accessing this – regardless of whether you’ve kept your license up to date or not!
Another example is the recently released Star Trek: Discovery – this is available around the world on Netflix EXCEPT in the USA. In the States, if you want to watch it, you need to pay CBS a fee to access the content.
Security and Privacy
Watching anything via many of the streaming services can in some jurisdictions be considered illegal. This does very much vary from country to country and is quite often a very murky “grey area”. Unfortunately, if you do not have any protection in place, your ISP can easily monitor what you are streaming and as there are no clearly defined rules in place, if they are asked for the information, they will often provide it to corporate groups.
What can you do?
Now that I’ve told you all about the “bad stuff” let me tell you how to protect yourself. Simply put a VPN is the answer to your prayers. Not only does a VPN encrypt and secure your content behind a virtual “tunnel” so that no-one can view your activities it helps bypass geoblocking.
You see, VPNs create a point-to-point connection from your device to a server in a different country. Anything that you browse after you’ve connected to this server seems to be “local” to that geography!
OK, now you know why you need a VPN, but which one should you get? There are seemingly hundreds of them out there – are they all the same?
The Shellfire Advantage
VPNs are definitely NOT created equal. You see, free VPNs like the ones included with Opera and the Hulu add-in not only significantly slow down your connection, there have been instances where malicious code has been tracked back to this free software. This is hugely damaging and dangerous!
Other pay VPNs are so slow, they are next to useless. Anything you try to browse just gets buffered and it’s a complete waste of time.
Shellfire, however, has an advantage over many of these solutions. They have a software VPN and a Hardware VPN. I’ve spoken in an earlier post about changing the location using the software version, so check that out for more details.
Software VPNs are simple to use and install, but there are quite a few instances where a hardware solution is the best – if not the only – option. This post is going to be focused in a lot more detail on the hardware version.
The Shellfire Box
The Shellfire Box is a pretty sweet little piece of kit. This tiny little box (the size of a box of matches) is super powerful and is the perfect complement to your Smart TV or any other device that does not allow you to install a VPN. Pick one up directly from Amazon and you get either one year or two years free Shellfire VPN service included!
You see, with the Shellfire Box, you simply connect it to your existing home network and then you connect to it. The connection is really simple – either directly via an Ethernet connection or through a WiFi connection. I’ve spoken at length about how you setup and connect a Shellfire Box to your system, so I won’t go into real detail about that here as this post is focused more on changing locations with the Shellfire Box.
Changing Locations with the Shellfire Box
Once you have connected your Shellfire Box to your network, all you need to do is connect directly to it. I generally connect via WiFi as that gives me the most flexibility in my home network.
Now I tested specifically to see if I could watch BBC iPlayer as that was something that was consistently blocked for me even with other VPNs. So let’s get to it!
Step 1 –
Once you’ve connected your Shellfire Box to your network, simply wait until the light at the front of the unit is solid and lit.
Step 2 –
Connect to your Shellfire Box using WiFi and enter the supplied WPA_KEY (it’s on the bottom of the Shellfire Box) – remember, you can also use an Ethernet cable.
Step 3 –
After you have connected to your Shellfire Box via WiFi, simply login to the web interface at http://sf.box – this is where you will change the location that you connect to.
If you look at the image to the right, you will see that the default/starting location is a server in Germany.
Near the bottom of the screen, you will see a subheading titled “Serverlist”.
Step 4 – Selecting your location
Now, in my case, I’m interested in accessing the UK so all you need to do is scroll down the server list and find the servers that are in the UK.
The best quality is Server 44 (you can check the quality by the number of stars – simply move to the right) so select this server.
Your connection will now be changed to the UK and you will see that the location is now modified to the UK.
Step 5 – Watching UK Programming
As mentioned earlier, my primary interest in this “test” was to access BBC iPlayer. So after connecting to the UK server, I launched iPlayer on my Kodi and selected a stream.
I’m pleased to say that not only did it launch seamlessly, there was zero buffering!
As you can see, it’s really not that hard! If you ever get blocked by geolocation, simply figure out which server (there are the server in 33 different countries in the world and counting!) is in the country that you’re interested in accessing and hit connect.
Give it a couple of minutes to synchronize and you’re all done!