If you sit down and look at many media devices, you’ll see the influence that the major broadcasters and media companies have on this sector. For example companies like Netflix will actively support and promote some devices like the Roku, Chromecast and the Nvidia Shield. Whereas others are merely tolerated such as the hundreds of Android media boxes which are available for a much cheaper price.
Why should this matter? Well one of the most important is things like supporting high definition streaming. Most devices are capable but without the Netflix approval and their approved logo, true Ultra definition streaming won’t happen on that device. You think that will be ok, but just switch from ultra HD to standard definition and you’ll soon be looking for that approved logo.
There is another problem too, all these devices are ‘approved’ on the basis of certain conditions. One of those is that they are much more difficult to bypass region locks and restrictions. For example one of the simplest methods to switch your version of Netflix is by using Smart DNS. This can hide your true location and allow you to watch the US or UK versions of Netflix if you want. However to enable this solution you need to access your DNS settings in the devices configuration.
Funnily enough, changing the any device officially supported by Netflix is usually much more difficult. Try and modify the DNS settings on a Roku and you’ll find no access, Chromecast hard codes the DNS server too. Basically any media device that works well with Netflix is much more difficult to bypass region locks with. Many people suspect that Smart DNS will soon be extensively blocked to and a VPN will be your only option to watch British TV online in Spain for example.
Of course you can still bypass these restrictions even on the ‘official devices, but it is more difficult. Using a Roku for example you either have to assign your Smart DNS settings using DHCP or route through a client based VPN connection to hide your location.
Netflix know that people will still use these methods to bypass their region locks but it does make it more difficult. The tactic is to simply limit the number of people using these methods by making it more difficult on the best supported devices.
Is this fair? Well possibly not but the reality is that it’s unlikely to change in the near future. Netflix and the other big media companies will use their power to enforce the restrictions simply because they can. If you want to stream in 4k hd then expect to either accept the blocks these companies enforce or do a little reading and figure out how to bypass them using other methods.
For example on the NVidia Shield it may be awkward to modify the network configuration but you can install applications. Try the OpenVPN application and connect through to a commercial VPN and you’ll instantly have the ability to bypass these blocks.