Hideman lets you watch foreign TV and bypass censorship restrictions

There are many reasons why you’d want to hide your internet IP address. The most common one is that you’re trying to access services or web sites restricted to a specific country or territory -- this might be to catch up with UK BBC TV’s shows via iPlayer or for more fundamental reasons, such as bypassing a country’s censorship restrictions.

Spoofing your IP address so you appear to come from another country than the one you’re residing in isn’t by itself a difficult task -- all you need is a decent VPN service. But when it comes to simplicity and decent performance, you can’t beat a service called Hideman, available on Windows and Mac via the free Hideman 2.0 tool, and Hideman VPN 1.9.7 for Android.

Hideman isn’t new -- version 2.0 has just been released sporting a brand new user interface -- but it’s built a reputation as one of the better VPN services out there. Aside from providing you with the opportunity to spoof your own IP address, it also provides 256-bit encryption for all data received and transmitted, adding an extra layer of protection to your web browsing while also allowing you to surf safely via open public Wi-Fi hotspots.

The software is ridiculously easy to use. Fire it up, click the > button to choose the country you wish to appear to be in, and let the software do the rest. Suddenly services restricted to your country of choice are available to you wherever you happen to be.

The service -- like most good VPN services -- isn’t completely free. However, for occasional use and testing purposes you can use the service for up to five hours per week -- note, however, that once you trigger one of your free hours, it will count down relentlessly in the background whether or not you use the service, and shutting down the program has no effect.

You can subsequently leave the program running in the background and trigger a fresh hour by clicking the Hours button, or completely close it from its Notification area icon, knowing the next time you launch it, the next hour’s countdown will begin.

There are other restrictions for free users to be aware of: first, you can only connect through six countries: the US, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Panama and Singapore (four of which permit the use of P2P). Second, you can only download 2GB per month, and the connection speed may be limited to 512Kbps.

It’s also worth noting that free users’ access logs are stored encrypted for 14 days, and will be used in exceptional circumstances (see the FAQ for full details).

Should you want unlimited access with no logging to more than 20 countries (including Australia, the UK, Canada and Japan), support for port forwarding and changing IP on the fly, then invest in a paid-for account. Prices start from $3 for one week’s access from your computer, or $2.90 for one month’s access from your mobile (either through the Android app or by logging on through the Hideman website on your iPhone or iPad). Pricing plans go all the way up to a year’s access -- $69 for computers, $24.90 for mobiles.

Hideman 2.0 is available as a free, function-limited download for Macs and Windows. Hideman VPN 1.9.7 is a free app for Android users. Up to three devices can connect at one time through a single account.

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