There is an abundance of VPN providers available for everyone out there. This is probably due to the recent rise in concerns regarding how safe using the internet really is. People are more worried than ever about hackers, malware and government spying agencies and are constantly looking for a solution.
One of the solutions to this problem is using software known as a Virtual Private Network. These work by connecting your device to an alternative network while encrypting all of your sent and received data.
One of the more popular VPNs out there includes iPortal. iPortal is not like your regular VPN; instead it is focused on watching television shows that you would otherwise be unable to watch because of being out of the country.
To be honest, when I first came across iPortal, I wasn’t even entirely sure what it was. I was sure it was a VPN service of some sorts, but every bit of information their website provided was contrary to that. Instead, all that was talked about was how you could use their software to watch TV shows using websites that were restricted in whichever country you were at that time.
For example, if you want to watch a show on BBC using their iPlayer, you need to be in a few selected countries to be able to do so, such as USA and the UK. However, if you’re outside these countries then you won’t be allowed access, and this is where iPortal comes in; connect to their service and you can watch whatever you want.
My initial impression was very poor, to be honest. The website’s design is cheap and unintuitive; a software company that doesn’t have a good website is a no-no. Secondly, I found that the software makers were confused about what their software really does. They made their software seem like some sort of a portal or TV application that you could use to watch restricted shows. Instead, it’s just a regular VPN that solely markets a single feature of all VPNs; bypassing restrictions.
I feel at that point, any consumer would simply walk away from such software. With so many alternatives out there, why would you go for the most confusing and poorly designed one? However, I swallowed my fears and went ahead and downloaded their software.
Downloading and Installation
Again, I was confused as to where to get started. Sure, other VPN Providers have giant overwhelming ‘DOWNLOAD HERE’ buttons located every three clicks, but this was the exact opposite. I couldn’t even find a link which could allow me to download anything! I sifted through their website examining it inch by inch, pixel by pixel until I figured out how to get to a the free trial offer.
I clicked on that, chose a server, and was then asked to enter some credit card information. I reluctantly carried on, but thankfully the rest of the installation process was fairly simple. On my 2012 MacBook Pro, installation took less than a minute and I was ready to go.
Firing It Up
I launched the software and clicked connect, eager to see what it could do for me. Once it connected, the notification box on the top right of my window disappeared and I was ready to start.
Now, one of the most important aspects of a VPN is speed and reliability. Another very important factor is server locations. iPortal has servers in 2 locations: USA and UK. To give you a point of comparison, HideMyAss has over 50,000 servers located across more than 50 or so countries. Granted that this VPN doesn’t need any more servers since the entire idea of it is to allow people to watch shows based in those two countries, but it gives you a very accurate idea of just how small scale their operation really is.
Moving on, once it had connected I browsed a few popular websites and found that the speed was decent. Most websites loaded in a fairly timely manner and there were few if any hiccups. However, the service was a far cry from the rest of the services out there, which makes me wonder why anyone would go for this.
I also went ahead and tried its most renowned feature; watching TV shows outside the designated countries. It worked for the better part of it, however the shows did not load smoothly at all, which made the entire experience quite disappointing. For me, that was the final straw.
Not much needs to be said of a service that itself is so confused about what it really does. Is it a VPN? Is it software to allow you to watch TV shows? I’m not sure which one it does worse, but in conclusion, my advice would be to steer clear of this software.