Monday, August 2, 2010

Help Key: Watch Netflix from outside the U.S.

You Americans have all the good stuff. Stuff like BP pumping oil in the Ocean and guns, lots of guns. And then you have Netflix. Sweet Netflix. Us foreigners are wondering what it feels like to have a service like that. Now I know.

In Europe we also have online movie services. They are completely useless unless you are prepared to pay 3€ ($5) for a single movie for 24 hours. The content of these services is not very satisfying either. This is of course not an option for people who know that such things as Netflix exist. In Germany for example there are lawyers who make a living off scouting torrent trackers to see if you download a single MP3 or a movie. If they get you they will try to get your name and address from your ISP. First your ISP will refuse to hand your data to the rats. This leads to a pile up of legal costs. Finally 3-4 months later you will find a letter in the postbox saying that you have to pay a 1000€-5000€ + penalty because you downloaded something plus the legal fee that they spent on suing your ISP to give them your personal data. This has happened to many in Europe and while my solution is certainly not the best at least it’s not illegal (at least the swine will not come after you). So let’s get started.

Even to be able to open you need a decent VPN service. Fortunately you can give in any address in the U.S. and you don’t need a matching credit card. I pay $11.50 per month for the HydeMyAss pro VPN service and so far I’m satisfied with it. They have Linux/OSX/Win7 clients and they work pretty well. Now the trick is that if you want to have a decent picture quality you can’t use a VPN since it will slow down your connection pretty much.

Once you have a Netflix subscription and a VPN service subscription, do the following:

1. Connect to you VPN service to a server in the U.S.
2. Open your browser
3. Go to Netflix
4. Choose a movie and click Play Now
5. Wait until you see the “Downloading Movie Information” message in the movie player
6. Disconnect from the VPN service and you are now using your full bandwidth

Now I’m able to watch Netflix in HD from Germany (or from anywhere else). You can do the trick with WMC and this should even work with the Xbox 360 extender although I didn’t try. Also when you are watching series you can stay in the session; you don’t have to do the trick every time you want to watch the next episode. Just click play next. Overall the whole thing costs $9 for the unlimited Netflix subscription and $11.50 for the VPN pro monthly. That’s just over $20. Cheaper than a 5000€ fishing expedition.

This way you can watch many other online services. For example Top Gear on BBC2 or Hulu. The speed trick, however, only works on Netflix. Be sure to experiment though.

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