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  OverPlay Review Summary

When many people talk about SmartDNS, it’s often specifically OverPlay’s SmartDNS service that they are referring to. OverPlay are something of a market leader in the field. On the whole the system is very well designed , we enjoyed using it and would give a 100% recommendation.

Pricing & Plans

You can get SmartDNS as part of OverPlay’s VPN packages, more information here, but we are looking at the standalone SmartDNS service. The image below shows their monthly pricing, and as usual you get a discount the longer you sign up for. Their prices go as low as $4.15/ month which is absolutely great value for the service they provide.

OverPlay Review Pricing

If you wanted to opt for Overplay’s VPN service including SmartDNS, prices are around double those charged for SmartDNS only, starting at $9.95 per month.

Unfortunately there isn’t a free trial or money back guarantee (except for on their VPN packages).

To purchase your SmartDNS, OverPlay offers a range of payment options including credit card, PayPal and 2Checkout.

Features

OverPlay is a company in the US and possibly one of the best SmartDNS companies out there. They allow streaming access to “virtually every service” out there in over 21 countries – probably the most we’ve seen from a SmartDNS service – and they are constantly adding new ones. They also have over 40 servers across the world. This means you can watch shows like Breaking Bad and House of Cards from anywhere, and access services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and Spotify.

Overplay channels

As with most SmartDNS services, it’s worth noting that OverPlay don’t restrict the number of devices you can use the service on, as long as they’re connected from the same location. However, it’s worth nothing that unlike a VPN, SmartDNS will not offer any kind of security for protecting your online identity.

It’s natural to wonder what approach a company will take to protecting your privacy whilst using their service. OverPlay state that they don’t keep any logs of the sites you visit via their servers, whether you are using a VPN or SmartDNS.

Channels & Devices

As mentioned, OverPlay allows access to virtually all the streaming channels out there, whether video or radio. As with all SmartDNS providers, there should be close to no speed loss so you can watch them in HD if your connection is fast enough. Their channels list also includes some rarely seen sites such as Amazon Prime.

OverPlay_Channels

Their countries list contains all the popular ones (UK, US, DE, etc) but also some less supported countries such as Poland, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. As the above image shows all the channels are conveniently listed by country.

OverPlay_Devices

While technically experienced users should have no issue setting up a SmartDNS on most devices, as we outline below, we feel that OverPlay could provide more and better setup instructions, especially for important devices such as Apple TV. However they do provide guides for all the main platforms, as well as gaming devices such as PlayStation and Xbox. You can find the full list here.

Visit OverPlay »

The website

OverPlay’s website is easy to navigate and puts across a good amount of information without confusing anybody. We particularly liked the comprehensive list of which services it supports across a huge range of countries.

Overplay Review Homepage

We couldn’t help but wish that the FAQ section made more differentiation between the VPN and SmartDNS services, as it wasn’t always clear whether the answers to questions were referring to both of the services offered or just one.

Support

OverPlay start off with a big “tick” for providing prominent access to live chat support as soon as you access their website:

OverPlay_Support

The only other support options are email and online support ticket. The latter uses the same outsourced “Fusion” support system used by the live chat (shown above), and also provides direct access to a knowledge base. However, the knowledge base is a little sparse on content, and most of it is related to VPN and not SmartDNS.

There’s also a FAQ section that is helpful and clear, if somewhat lightweight in terms of content, and a “Setup” section specific to SmartDNS, explaining how to configure the service for various operating systems and devices. While most of the guides are superb, some are lacking in visual guidance (Windows 8) and some very important platforms such as Apple TV have none at all, instead merely a line of text advising you to contact support for instructions.

Now it’s fair to point out that technical users will easily be able to find and change the DNS settings on any Internet-enabled device, but novices are going to want instructions, and it doesn’t seem fair that whether they get them is purely down to luck, in terms of which devices they have and wish to use with SmartDNS.

The Process

Signing Up

To sign up to OverPlay, we had to provide the usual basic details (name, email etc.), say where we would primarily use the service from, and of course agree to their Terms of Service. Once we confirmed our account, payment was quick and hassle-free, offering credit card or PayPal payment options.

The OverPlay SmartDNS Setup

When we logged into our account, our local IP was automatically detected and we were provided with two new DNS addresses to use in order to access their SmartDNS service.

With the online elements set up, we decided to first try it out on our test computer – a MacBook Pro running OS X Yosemite. The Mac instructions were easy to follow, merely requiring us to add new DNS server settings within our machine’s “System Preferences.”

Settings

Once set-up we had no issues getting access streaming media services in both the US and USA (without being located in either country).

Performance (Speed and DNS)

As expected with SmartDNS there was no discernible slowdown as a result of using different DNS servers.

A “DNS Leak” test revealed that OverPlay route DNS queries straight out via US and UK ISPs, so there’s seemingly no complicated background routing going on that would slow down your connection while using the service. This also implies they use their own internally managed infrastructure rather than “piggy backing” on a free DNS service (such as Google’s). This, in theory at least, means they have more control if the service ever needs to be reconfigured to respond to changes made by content providers.

Other Platforms

With so many options for testing on another platform, we decided to try our new OverPlay account on an LG Smart TV.

As mentioned, the OverPlay setup guides are limited and there were none for SmartTVs, so we had to figure this out for ourselves. This wasn’t difficult and it worked without any problems, and we were able to access previously region-locked Smart TV apps.

One thing we did discover over the course of long-term use is that our ISP changes our Internet IP address quite frequently. When this happens, an OverPlay warning screen appears, and it’s necessary to log on to the OverPlay website with our account credentials so that their systems pick up our new address. This is only a minor inconvenience, and not the fault of OverPlay.

Overplay Review Conclusion

We liked

  • Easy signup
  • Service “just works”
  • Well-known provider
  • No device limit
  • Live chat support

We weren’t so sure about

  • Inconsistent documentation
  • Some more setup instructions would be appreciated
  • An IP address change on your home connection presents the need to log back into the provider’s site
  • No free trial

We hated

  • Nothing

OverPlay’s SmartDNS service does exactly “what it says on the tin,” and has never let us down or not worked when needed.

Our only real criticism is that the service provider needs to put some time into their lazy and inconsistent documentation. This wouldn’t take long, and would make the service a lot more friendly to novices. It would probably save the company’s support department a lot of time as well.

So, perhaps there are services that will better please novices – but everything here works flawlessly, and that’s the main thing.

Visit OverPlay »


Ben Taylor Written by Ben Taylor

Ben is a former government IT Director turned Internet entrepreneur. He runs several websites of his own, and provides bespoke IT consultancy to a range of UK clients. He also writes regular IT, business and lifestyle articles for a range of publications, both online and offline.

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