On this page I try to explain more about VPN connections for Boxee box. I’ve heard several people who like the functionality of the BBC, Hulu, Vudu and the other American / English apps. The problem is that these apps are blocked for people who do not have a American / English IP address.
Now there’s one way to play this content, this is by using a VPN. A VPN is basically a secure connection to another network. For example you can sometimes also log onto the network of your work from home using a VPN. This gives you basically the IP address of your work and you can surf / browse the internet as if you where at work. This is also possible with Boxee, by connecting to a VPN server in for example America, it is like you are browsing from that location, so you have a U.S. IP address. You can now visiting for example hulu, the website will detect that you are from America (U.S. IP) and you can just play the content.
The speed of the VPN is completely dependent on your connection and the VPN server. The one with the slowest connection is the bottleneck. You can almost always assume that Internet + VPN is slightly slower than your regular Internet connection.
There are several VPN servers are available and this has everything to do with the available bandwidth (speed). There are free servers but then you share the connection with many people, so the speed is to slow for video streaming. There are also “cheap” server where you connect to the server with a small group of people, the connection is generally fine to stream videos. But sometimes it is possible that during peak hours the connection is somewhat slower because more people are online. Then there are the fast servers that can reach almost 100% of your regular internet speed because the provider can guarantee the connection is rarely shared and / or private. These servers are generally expensive.
Type of connection
There are different ways a connection between your computer and the VPN server can be setup. The main techniques used are: PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP. PPTP and OpenVPN here are the most common. OpenVPN offers the best protection not to be blocked by filters or websites, but usually PPTP will do fine. The Boxee Box currently supports only PPTP connections, so check carefully whether the VPN service provider supports it.
I have put together a list of some providers I have good experiences with:
You can often pay the vpn service provider per monthl, per three months or per year. It is often useful to first test the service for a month before subscribing for a longer period. Note also the different subscription plans. A VPN server is merely connects to a server in a particular country. Would you like to view both hulu and BBC iPlayer, you will need a VPN server that offers Ip adresses in both England and America. There are providers that offer this combination, but sometimes this also comes with an additional fee. So be careful as to which type of subscription you choose! Payment is often with Paypal or credit card.
if you have subscribed with a VPN service provider you will get a username and password. Often on the service provieders website there is also a list of vpn server addresses that are available. Pick an adress that correspond to the country you want to view content from and check if this adress if usable for PPTP connections. You will need the below 3 parameters to setup the connection on the box:
3 PPTP server address
Install VPN on the boxee box
The installation of vpn is relatively simple on the box gear icon:
1 Firt go to: “Settings”, (press menu from the main menu and select the .)
2 Select: “Network”
3 Go to: “VPN”, (down the menu.)
4 Enter your VPN credentials (server address, username, password)
5 Enable the “encryption” option (almost always needed)
6 Select “Connect”
After a few seconds you should be connected to the VPN server, on the latest boxee box firmware you will see a small vpn icon in the top bar. Any American or English content will now be available. Please note that you now browsing with an American / English ip. Note that if you want to watch your local content in your country it might be that it is blocked from access as you are using a foreign ip address.
Note also that you activate the international content on the box: go to the Settings menu and under “location” make sure the option “Hide That feeds and applications can not be Played in your location” is uncheck.
Disabling the VPN can be done using the same menu, instead of “Connect” you can now see the option “Disconnect”. The VPN icon at the top of the menu will disappear and your settings are saved.
If you want to switch between English and American content (BBC / Hulu) then you need to (manually) change the server address in the settings menu to a server in England or America. Often the VPN serice providers use handy extensions so you can keep them apart easily. For example ‘us.server.com’ and ‘uk.server.com.
If the does not work the first time, please first check the connection first on the PC (instructions are on the vpn service providers home page) to make sure that your password and server address is correct. Among Note that the vpn keeps active till you disconnect it! Also p2p/torrent programs are often prohibited on VPN servers. You would use a disproportionate amount of bandwidth compared to other users.
Do you have experience with specific VPN providers that you found good/bad please post them in the comments below, user reviews are always welcome.