Digital Life


Browser plug-ins to dodge geo-blocking

If you want to trick foreign video services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer into thinking you're a local, try a simple web browser plug-in.

The beauty of these browser plug-ins is that unlike proxy servers and virtual private networks, they don't slow down your internet connection when accessing foreign content. Both Media Hint and Hola offer Chrome and Firefox plug-ins, adding a button to your browser to make it easy to switch the plug-in on and off. Hola also supports Internet Explorer and Safari, via desktop apps, along with Android devices. 

Hola works with a lot more video sites than Media Hint, plus it is more flexible when it comes to managing the websites you visit. Hola lets you pretend to be in a range of different countries, which is handy with sites such as YouTube that offer different content around the world. Of course bypassing geo-blocking is a game of cat and mouse, but Hola makes life easier by letting you try different servers if you encounter issues due to countermeasures.

Media Hint has scrapped its free accounts and now only offers a free seven-day trial which requires you to create an account or login with your social media credentials. You'll get the same features from Hola for free, but in return Hola launches the occasional advertisement in a separate tab. Hola also caches content on your computer, compresses it and sends it to other Hola users to speed up their internet access.

A Hola premium account removes the advertisements, ensures you're not serving cached content to other users, adds support for iGadgets and includes a "VPN tab" mode that lets you access more blocked services.


The verdict

If you're interested in more obscure video sites then Hola is more likely to deliver the goods, although it's more expensive than Media Hint if you want to escape the ads and content caching.

Hola Better Internet

Free, $5 per month premium

Media Hint

$3.95 per month