UnblockUS and Overplay Review

When it comes to connecting the Roku to US content you are going to need two things smartDNS or equivalent and a Roku account registered with an American address.

For this reason it is necessary that the you take a moment to read this Unblock US and SmartDNS ReviewOverplay review, choosing the best approach to start will get you utilizing the Roku fully within no time at all.

There are a plethora of instructions online about how to do this but most are very out-dated and/or non-Roku specific. The problem with that is things in the online world change very fast and as a result what worked yesterday might not work today. For example Netflix used to offer American content only to Netflix accounts with American addresses and American payment methods (American address on the credit card for example). Thankfully Netflix has since updated and now with an Canadian account you can view US content when you cross the border… whether you do so literally or only digitally is where smartDNS comes in.

A quick bit on smartDNS and its purpose is probably helpful to understanding what is going on and why you need it.

SmartDNS is the name of a service that allows you to relay the part of your internet connection which identifies your geographic location. This is better than VPN if you are only trying to access content and websites that are country specific access. VPN is also offered with Overplay but not through UnblockUS. As a rule VPN, as a SmartDNSfunnelling of your internet activities through a third party that acts like a relay, will slow your internet connection down or at least has the potential to do so. It makes sense as your internet traffic must travel from the source server to the VPN server then to your computer/mobile/tablet.

SmartDNS is also a security improvement to the free services which require your information and your activity go through a publicly shared and open server which is far more prone to hacking and other malicious activity. Which is important because your Roku account setup will require payment information and the like, things which I personally don’t want shared.

As for which of the two, Overplay or UnblockUS, I prefer Overplay by far for two main reasons. First its easy to setup a VPN through them if you so desire for anonymity or otherwise. Second and most importantly when it comes to the Roku only the Overplay service works with the Roku account setup process, this is of course crucial as setting up your Roku account as American is the only way you can access American Roku channels such as Hulu Plus, Pandora, HBO Go, etc.


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To get instruction on how to create an American Roku account so that you can enjoy the American only content that elevates the whole Roku experience, click here!

32 thoughts on “UnblockUS and Overplay Review

    • When it comes to the Roku the only free method I know is to alternate between the free trails of the many smartDNS providers. This will last longer if you have many email addresses (for repeat registrations)… that being said it would be rather time consuming.

      If you want out-of-country content on your computer you could try a free proxy service, not sure how secure it would be though. This doesn’t work for Roku as only router changes to IP/DNS and network settings will affect Roku content.

  1. Thanks for the article. The DNS option is better than using a VPN regarding content streaming because you can achieve direct connection with the media station ex. Netflix and avoid the “middle-man”. Personally, I am using UnoTelly which is similar to unblock-us. Perhaps you should check UnoTelly as well if you haven’t done so.

  2. Well i will always go for smartdns for its swift streaming speed that is not in vpn, although they are more concerned with ip security and anonymity !
    I have used unblock-us previous they are really good, but when it comes to pricing, rates and services along with customer support, the new launch of 2015 “unblock.com” is something really huge this year .. they have also offered free trial to top 1000 users !

  3. I am an American and will be spending 6 months in the Summer in Canada. I do not have a Roku but my plan is to purchase one before I leave for Canada in May. The cottage where I will be staying has cable TV/internet service.
    (1) Will my Roku that I purchased in the US work in Canada?
    (2) I have my US address..should I register my Roku with this address?
    (3) While in Canada will I still need to set up a VPN and is there a charge for this service?
    (4) Reading customer replies, it appears that a smartDNS is a better method. How do I get/install smartDNS?

    Many thanks

    • Hello Paul,

      The Roku sounds like an excellent option for you especially if the Cable Provider you use in America has a channel on the Roku, like Time Warner. Because I believe you can use your service via the Roku while in Canada, so long as you have SmartDNS or VPN services. Just food for thought I’ve not done this myself before though so I don’t know if it works, seems like it could.

      To answer your questions:

      1) In my experience a Roku purchased in Canada always works in American and visa-versa

      2) Yes register with your US address regardless of whether you use SmartDNS or not.

      3) A VPN is more comphrehensive, rerouting nearly all your internet traffic through a third-party server, SmartDNS only reroutes your apparent location for select services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, etc. So if all you are doing is trying to access American streaming media content while in Canada than SmartDNS will do the trick nicely. If you want your internet experience to be basically the same as when you are in the US than use VPN.

      4) I personally use Overplay for their VPN and/or SmartDNS services and find them to be top notch. Either method is relatively easy to setup, keep in mind that the Roku doesn’t have configurable network settings so the router must be configured to use VPN or SmartDNS on the Roku. Read Overplays setup instructions here.

      Merry Christmas,

      Daniel

    • Hello Peter,

      There is Acorn.TV, European Netflix (choose a region), SkyNews and *BBC iPlayer (*Requires UK Roku Account). These are just a few of the ones I know of there may be more.

      If you are located in Canada you will need SmartDNS or VPN services to access European Netflix content. Acorn.TV and SkyNews are available in Canada without SmartDNS or VPN I believe. For BBC iPlayer SmartDNS or VPN is needed as well as a UK Roku Account.

      Also check out FilmON which has live UK TV and is available via its own Roku channel or through Plex.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

  4. I bought Roku 4 in the US and registered it with a Canadian Roku account. Now I would like to access US Netflix through Overplay Smart DNS. How do I do that? Do I need to cancel the Canadian Roku account and make a new US Roku account?

    • Hello Jan,

      I don’t think you have to make an American Roku account if all you are trying to do is access US Netflix. All you “need” is the Overplay SmartDNS setup on your router.

      However without an American Roku account you will not be able to install and/or access the American only channels like Hulu, HBO Now, Pandora, etc. So really the best option is to factory reset your Roku and leave it unplugged until after you finish installing the SmartDNS and registering an American Roku account. Then turn the Roku on and link it to the account you just created. You can simply delete your Canadian Roku account as you won’t need it and can always re-register it at any time in the future if you want to.

      Best of luck,

      Daniel

  5. We just bought the ROKU 3 and we are trying to get Canadian content, like local news channels and TV shows. any advice as to where to look?

    • Hello Jeff,

      The Roku and all set-top devices in general are still not very local Canadian content friendly. Most of the service these devices and Roku in specific work with are on-demand services like Netflix, Hulu, etc. The live content is however growing with the surge in consumer interest and demand.

      There is some local Canadian content via private channels and the like but the content is often sparse and not typically live (and often unreliable). This is something I hope Roku and independent developers will work on. Unfortunate reality is that we are a smaller consumer base and so everything happens first for the US. In that regard there is a growing amount of local US tv content and news. So in time Canadians are also likely to see this change, not yet though.

      Cheers,

      Daniel

  6. I love the Roku to access US Channels Like CBS Hulu and NBC. Have set up an account based in the US and use Unblock-US. My issue is when it comes to my NBA League Pass. International League pass will not work on a Roku account created in the US. I do not want to lose my channels.

    If I unlink my Roku 2 from my american account and link it to my american account without doing a factory reset, will I be able to have the best of both worlds or will I either have to have one or the other?

    • Hello Chuck,

      I’m not sure if your solution would work, honestly I don’t think so and regardless it might be a lot of effort for what might be an easy fix.

      Did you know Overplay has a ‘region selection‘ tool that allows you to select the region for each individual service.

      That means with the click of a mouse in the members area you can choose your Netflix region as ‘United States’ at the same time as you select your NBA League region as ‘Canada’? I’m not sure but I think this may be the fix you are looking for. Worth a try anyways as the SmartDNS service offered by OverPlay is nearly identical to UnblockUS otherwise.

      If you try this and it works I’d love to get your feedback so it can help fellow Canadians going forward!

      Cheers,

      Daniel

  7. Hi Daniel,

    First of all, thanks for replying to all the comments over the years.
    I’ve been using a BoxeeBox for many years and I’m finally switching to Roku.

    I’m a happy unblock-us customer. I just created a Roku US Account using their guide.
    What I’m wondering is whether there will be any difference in the content that I see between purchasing a Roku from US or Canada. In other words, between 4230R (the Roku 3 US model) and 4230CA (the Canadian model)?

    • Hello Sam,

      My understanding is that the determination of what content you see is purely based on the Roku account type and DNS location. I personally have three Roku models either purchased through Amazon.ca (CA models) or BestBuy (also CA models). All three have access to the same American content an American model would. With my Roku’s I see Hulu, SlingTV, Pandora and more. Many of which are providers strictly limited to the US.

      So no there is no difference between the two models that I’m aware of, except for packaging. Different channels are advertised on the box and the french language is found on the CA model packaging. So people buying Roku in Canada at a BestBuy don’t go home thinking they can access Hulu and SlingTV (only advertised on the US model packaging).

      Hope this clears things up for you!

      Cheers,

      Daniel

    • Hello Patrick,

      There is movement amoung the entire VPN community to find a work around to Netflix blocking some proxy services. As of now I’m not sure what the solution will be however I’m sure a solution will be found. Not everyone is being affected, what service are you using SmartDNS or VPN?

      Daniel

  8. I have a Roku 4, bought in the US and a Roku US account. Back in May (2106) I lost connection with Netflix US – would not connect via proxy (HideMyAss DNS) and same with Amazon Prime.

    In other words, both Netflix and Amazon checked my billing address (Canada) and refused service.

    I was wondering if that has changed or are there any work around — like a fake US billing address etc.

    Thanks for your info.

    • Hello Jerome,

      I’m not sure about Amazon Prime as I have never paid for the service and only tried the free trial. But as for Netflix I believe the situation is that they have identified the DNS servers of all the major SmartDNS/VPN services and blocked the work around for them. You are now generally reverted to the service you would be getting without the service. As far as I’m aware there is no easy work around to this yet.

      I have heard of some people using a service that allows you to “rent” a US address such as USA2Me. Maybe that’s not neccesary though I’m looking into this because it might be just as simple as creating an American Netflix account to work with the SmartDNS. As opposed to using the SmartDNS type services on the Canadian Netflix accounts.

      For Amazon Prime Video I was under the impression you simply created a US Amazon account –> Add the Canadian Credit Card (maybe with zip-code trick like the one describe in my SlingTV article) –> Use a SmartDNS or VPN service.

      I will definitely be looking into the Netflix thing as it’s great to have access to the American content. After all without the American channels and content on the Roku the Canadian content is kinda lame.

      Best of Luck,

      Daniel

  9. I have purchased amazon prime with a canadian account (now launched). I can’t figure out how to get the channel on my roku 2…can anyone help or tell me how I can reach someone at roku to help

    • Hello Kent,

      Roku US accounts already support a fully functional Amazon Prime Video channel/app. The app is not yet available on the Roku for Canadian accounts but Amazon and Roku are working to get this for early in the new year.

      In the mean time it’s important to note that your Canadian Amazon Prime Video subscription that was setup on Amazon.ca can be used to register on the Amazon Prime Video app on the Roku that is available with an American Roku account. It’s easy to setup the US Roku account and I’ve made instruction here. This process requires a SmartDNS or VPN service such as Overplay.

      Happy Holidays!

      Daniel

  10. Awesome information getting a Roku in the next couple of weeks and look forward to getting all the US content following your advise will advise should I encounter any issues

    Michael

  11. Hello.
    I live in Canada and want to break free of expensive cable services since I now mostly watch shows via the channel site, like: Space, CTV, Global, Showcase,etc.but I want to watch them on my TV screen instead of my computer screen. Can I find all my channels via ROKU?
    I need something fast and simple, especailly simple.

    Thanks

    • Hello Lise,

      Short answer is no. You don’t find Space, CTV, Global and Showcase with their own channels on the Roku, you can find some day or more old content for Global News but it’s slim pickings.

      Roku is more of an on-demand content provider used best with services like Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Pandora, SlingTV, Amazon Prime, etc.

      While there is SlingTV that offers a familiar cable like experience with live access to channels like CNN, Comedy Central, Fox, Bravo, National Geographic, History, HGTV, Food Network, ESPN, AMC, etc. This is currently only available in the US but there are workarounds which I write about in my articles Canadian Roku with American Content and SlingTV on Roku in Canada.

      Best of Luck,
      Daniel

  12. I was so excited about all this, and everything seemed to work fine in terms of setting up a US Roku account etc. But my old Netflix account (Canadian) and the US Sling TV I tried to sign up for don’t seem to be working whenever I try to play the content – I think they are still able to detect I am coming from a different region. Has anyone else encountered this problem? How do I fix it? I am using Overplay with Smart DNS using all the steps outlined on this website.

    • Nevermind, problem solved! I didn’t see the note on the Overplay Smart DNS to contact them if the third DNS address doesn’t show up. Heads up to others who may encounter this problem 🙂

  13. I am moving back to Canada. I recently purchased a Roku TV in the United States. Can I use overplay to access my existing Roku account through my TV?

    Thanks,
    PJB

  14. Hello,

    I’m planning on getting a Roku next week and I’m curious if the channel/app Shudder is available on Roku Canada or will I have to follow these VPN/DNS steps to get it?

    Just wanna know before I set up my account.

    • Hey Scott,

      Yes the Shudder service is available via the Roku (at least in the US). It is also clearly available in Canada, see link. Without having a chance to check at the moment I can’t say for sure (I’m traveling) I’m not positive there is a channel on the Roku for Canadian accounts. However I would say it’s quite likely as they don’t specify ‘only in US’ on either the Shudder website or the Roku channel store.

      Roku Shudder Channel

      Cheers,

      Daniel

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