Netflix in Australia - your mileage may vary
By Adam TURNER
Combining Netflix with Unblock-US is likely to disappoint unless you tweak the video quality.
Accessing Netflix from Australia isn't that hard, although it can be a little fiddly and time-consuming to get it up and running. DNS-based geo-dodging services such as Unblock-US try to make the process as smooth as possible on a range of devices, but it's disappointing to go to all that trouble only to discover the picture quality isn't worth the effort.
Tested in a desktop browser, on the Apple TV and on the PlayStation 3, the combination of Netflix and Unblock-US can be very disappointing at first. It's particularly frustrating when you've seen the picture quality these devices can offer when hooked up to local services. Feedback from other users suggests that the results of combining Netflix and Unblock-US can be hit and miss. Some say the picture is excellent, others say it's temperamental. That's pretty disappointing considering you're actually paying for the privilege and there are free options which would offer better results.
In theory a DNS-based geo-dodging service such as Unblock-US shouldn't be the cause of poor picture quality. Unblock-US shouldn't face the bandwidth restrictions you can encounter with Virtual Private Networks. Switching to a fast and reliable VPN-based service such a WiTopia doesn't see an improvement in the Netflix picture quality.
What does improve the picture quality is dipping into the Netflix video settings, via the website. Netflix introduced the option to "manage video quality" last year, designed to assist users with slow data speeds and low monthly usage limits. Three options are available; Good, Better and Best. Netflix doesn't bring this to your attention, instead it chooses one for you.
When you go to the menu the first time no video quality option seems to be selected, but it's clear that Netflix doesn't automatically default to Best. Even if your download speeds are fast enough to get decent SD or even HD performance via Apple's movie rental service, you might find that Netflix has knobbled your video quality. Dipping into the settings and forcing Netflix to run at Best can dramatically improve the picture quality, although the playback isn't always completely smooth. To be honest, even at Best settings Netflix doesn't look quite as good as what you'll get from Apple.
The combination of Netflix and Unblock-US might be the holy grail of online entertainment for some people but, as with most things on the internet, your mileage may vary.
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