If you use Facebook, or visit anywhere else on the web, you may have seen the above ad cropping up around the place. Expanding your Netflix library sounds like a great thing, especially in Australia where the choice is far more limited, but what exactly does that mean?
Netflix accounts are global. If you sign up in the US or UK, then move to Australia, you’ll still have an active Netflix login when you get here. You'll even continue to pay the same monthly rate in your original country’s currency, adjusted for currency fluctuations each month.
This is great for travellers, but it also opens up a hole in Netflix’s security. All you have to do is fool the service in to thinking you’re in a different country and voilà, you have complete access to the video library of that region. This flaw is exploited regularly by many Australians. It’s the whole reason somewhere between twenty and two hundred thousand Australian Netflix accounts are estimated to have been active before the service was even available Down Under.
There are many ways of hiding or even changing your location from the point of view of a service like Netflix. Some of the more popular options are free, but tend to be limited to using in a browser like Chrome or Safari. If you want to do it via your TV, gaming console, or Chromecast then you’re going to need a proper Virtual Private Network (VPN) like TurboFlix.
Need a bigger plan?
Video streaming services can significantly increase your internet usage. Just how much depends on your own viewing habits. You might be able to get by with your current plan, or it could be time to start shopping around for something bigger.
Alternatively, you could just take a look at the plans currently on offer from Aussie providers.
Just another VPN
There are dozens of popular VPNs that will fool Netflix and other streaming services in to thinking you’re not where you really are on a variety of devices. These multi-device options tend to cost a monthly subscription, TurboFlix included. Said subscriptions are usually very reasonable, so long as you sign up to 6 or 12 months access in one go, rather than paying month-to-month.
TurboFlix happens to be a particularly controversial company in that it specifically states the entire reason for its existence is to break Netflix’s geo-locking system. Other VPNs make their living the same way, but don’t have the gall to not only outright claim it, but even market themselves based solely on their abilities to help Netflix subscribers break their usage agreements.
TurboFlix doesn’t really do anything new or special; it just markets itself a little more brazenly.
Anonymity vs legality
VPNs are not illegal themselves. It’s your right to hide your location data when online. However, do not confuse geographical occlusion with IP encryption.
Not all VPNs will hide your IP address and protect you from snooping eyes. If you’re looking for something that will give you complete anonymity online, Turboflix is not going to be that cloak of invisibility.
How well does it work?
Very well, and poorly.
If TurboFlix is to be judged by its ability to increase your Netflix library on a variety of devices (gaming consoles, chromecast, smart TVs, mobile devices, PCs), then Turboflix works flawlessly.
The actual process by which you set TurboFlix up is complicated, but the service has brilliant step-by-step guides for each and every device that make it painlessly simple.
We even found one great little bonus that some users may enjoy with regards to smart TVs. Most smart televisions operate over both wired and wireless connections. It’s possible to set your TV up so that your wireless connection runs through TurboFlix and your wired does not, or vice versa.
This means that you can view the US Netflix while running on your wireless network, and if you want the Aussie version you just plug the internet cable back in. It’s a quick and easy way to jump between regions.
Image quality is a problem for any VPN service. After all, when you’re streaming a US or other country’s version of Netflix, that stream has to originate in said country. Subsequently the information must travel further, so connection is slower, resulting in a poorer quality image.
TurboFlix seems to suffer from this problem even more than your average VPN. In our tests, it consistently offered lower quality streaming images when compared to a laptop running the free service Hola, which we had plugged in to the same TV.
To its credit there was little actual lag when it came to buffering and no pauses mid-stream, but at times faces could be hard to make out, especially on older TV shows and movies.
If you’d still like to give it a go for yourself TurboFlix offers a free 7 day trial with no need for a credit card; there’s no risk of getting stuck on a contract you don’t want. Otherwise, there are plenty of other options to try out there when it comes to location blocking on multiple devices.