We have all had that moment of absolute facepalm where we immediately need to access the web but certain websites are either blocked on the network or need to download an application, but the same is not available on the Application Store in our location. This is where the need for a quality VPN application comes into picture which would allow us to mask the real network with a virtual one so that you can bypass the censorship of the internet to suit your needs. One of the best free solutions that basically works across the devices is Hotspot Shield.
Hotspot Shield is available for Windows, Macs, Android as well as iOS devices. We decided to take the application on Android for a spin and largely came out impressed. As stated earlier, the application is one of the few VPN clients that are available for free, but in addition to the free version, Hotspot Shield allows you in application purchases using which you can get over the speed throttle that comes with the free version where irrespective of your internet speed, the downs and ups are restricted.
Using the application you can mask the IP Address and be able to surf the web anonymously. You can also surf the web from masked locations including countries like the US, UK etc. Hotspot Shield also gives you network security and helps with data compression hence data conservation.
By default when you turn the app on, you have a full protection plan turned on which makes sure the app works for all apps and sites, while you can change this to Smart Protection as well as few selected sites. The app dashboard also shows you the data you have consumed through the VPN, both up and down.
You can select the country that you wish to use the VPN of as well directly from the application dashboard itself, though that is available only if you take an elite plan which costs about $30 an year or $5 a month. It also gives you the name of the current network on the dashboard. Right from the settings you can set if you want Hotspot Shield to boot up right with the system itself or not. When the Shield is turned on, you will see a notification icon on the top left of the display while your WiFi indicator will turn into the form of a key. Not just this, you can also turn the Hotspot Shield by simply pulling down the Notification drawer and clicking the Pause icon to turn the protection off.
UI and Experience
The application at the first time of using looks a little overwhelming in the sense there are too many things to do here, though we could figure out most of the things over a period of time. We were also not too impressed with the design simply because it did not integrate well with the whole Lollipop design running on our OnePlus One. With most of the apps getting the material design makeover, it would be a good idea for Hotspot Shield to adopt that.
The overall experience of using the application was fine and easy once you have things figured, which may take some time. In terms of features, we would have liked at least to have an option one country change in the free version but maybe we are pushing our luck there. While we did not try out the paid variant, we are fairly sure that once you do go ahead with the in-application purchase, you will be able to use the other benefits of the app such as changing countries and no throttling of speeds.
We recommend Hotspot Shield to our users if they are looking for simply casually mask their IPs or for enhanced security browsing. Largely all the good features are paid, and if you do want to go that route, then the question simply will come down to the cost that you are willing to pay for that given that the market has a fair few options out there. But if you are simply looking to experiment with a Free VPN client without any hassles, Hotspot Shield is a pretty interesting choice.
Download: Hotspot Shield