Perhaps best known for its site unblocking SmartDNS service, UK-based OverPlay also offers a premium SmartDNS+VPN package for a chunky $9.95 (£8, AU$13.20) a month, falling to an equivalent of $8.33 ($6.70, AU$11.02) if you pay for a year up-front.
That's a higher price than most of the competition, but you're getting plenty for your money. There are 400+ servers in 40+ countries around the world, capable Windows and Mac clients, PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN support for excellent security, and you're able to connect up to three devices to the service at the same time.
- Want to try OverPlay? Check out the website here
If you're interested in site unblocking then you could try OverPlay's bundled SmartDNS system to see if it works for you. Essentially this involves applying new DNS settings to your device, then using a web console to set a custom location for every supported site (Netflix, Amazon Instant, Disney Channel, Hulu, Now TV, Zattoo and more.)
If you have problems with any of this, there's a searchable database of FAQs on the site. These aren't all as helpful as we'd like, but you can also send an email with more general queries, and our test message got a friendly and detailed reply within 15 minutes.
The Refund Policy is just as simple and clear: "If you are less than 100% satisfied with the service, we will gladly refund your payment if the refund is requested within five (5) days from the date of the purchase." No hidden conditions here.
There are more lengthy clauses, but they're the standard content you'll see in any VPN contract. Don't do illegal stuff; if you do, we might close your account or report you to the authorities; we do our best to keep the service up 24-7, but there are no guarantees; and if something goes wrong, we're not liable.
Overall, it's a simple document which explains everyone's rights and obligations, without including any of the sneaky get-out clauses we've often seen elsewhere, and that gets two thumbs up from us.
OverPlay's Windows client installed without issue on our test system. There are no apps available, so setting up the system on your mobile will take a little more work, though, and the support site isn't quite as beginner-friendly as we'd like (check out the setup starter page for yourself here).
The Windows client is simple, but also offers some useful options and settings. On launch the program can connect to the last server, the fastest server, or the fastest server in a given country. You can sort the list of locations by country, city, the number of servers, load or ping time, so it's easy to drill-down to the location you need. There's access to options like the protocol, OpenVPN port, DNS leak protection and more, and logs to help diagnose problems.
Performance tests* started well. Connecting to a local UK server halved our upload speeds to around 8Mbps, but latency was barely changed from what we usually saw with no VPN, and downloads were an excellent 32Mbps.
Switching to a US-Los Angeles connection made for noticeably more lethargic browsing, probably because latency was double the non-VPN rate and upload speeds were 1-2Mbps. But downloads remained at a very capable 15-20Mbps, and if you take the time to try different servers you can do even better.
OverPlay is a little expensive, but performance is above average, you get plenty of locations to choose from, and there's a no-strings money-back guarantee. If you'll make use of SmartDNS this package could be a smart choice.
*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.