At about three years old, UK based ZoogTV is a decent VPN service that emphasizes rapid streaming and painless content unblocking over ironclad security, while still providing superior encryption technologies than a Smart DNS — achieving a happy medium between the two. If you’re looking for a relatively effortless and wallet-friendly offering, they may be just right.
Pricing & Plans
ZoogTV have more than adequate pricing regarding the services they aim to provide. Like many other VPN competitors, they offer increasing discounts and functions in direct proportion to how long you subscribe to their services. While $8.99 per month isn’t the absolute cheapest going rate, the free plan (with no time limit), and $4.68 per month yearly package subscription places ZoogTV amongst the most affordable providers, all points considered.
Moreover, ZoogTV’s generously free plan is more than a simple trial, though there are some limitations in the form of an ample 2GB monthly data cap, and three available servers – located in the US, UK, and Holland. However, the free plan has no time limit, so you’re at liberty to use it as a springboard-test to then purchase a plan, or stick to the basic version at no cost.
Do also note if you’ve used the free version: the money back guarantee on any paid package is only in effect if you’ve subsequently purchased a paid subscription within one week. Practically speaking, this means that you can’t use the trial extensively – or more than seven days – subscribe, then say “whoops, I didn’t know what I was getting into.” This hypothetical (slightly comical) scenario shouldn’t pose a problem, unless, of course, you’re scheming. There is also the perfectly reasonable addendum that refunds are only issued within the first week of subscribing to a paid package and provided you haven’t exceeded 2GB of data bandwidth, not to be confused with the 2GB per month in the free plan.
ZoogTV’s two-minute video about their service.
ZoogTV skip fluff and unnecessary add-ons, opting for streamlined design and service. Currently, they only operate servers in Europe, North America, and Asia – though it’s great to see them expanding to Turkey and Australia. For future growth and better global coverage, it would be a good idea to see at least one China or Hong Kong based server (on account of the GFW), and an offering for Latin America. Bravo to the design team for including real-time server loads on the ZoogTV website, so you can always choose the server which will optimize performance as a byproduct of less traffic.
The total server count now stands at 14, with three being free. P2P file-sharing is allowed on one free server and three paid servers, which is quite good. However, be careful to limit your torrenting and other P2P activities to the dedicated servers, lest you be booted from their VPN service with no refund as per the TOS.
Security & Privacy
ZoogTV employ two encryption protocols, PPTP and OpenVPN. As a VPN reviewer, my colleagues and I at BestVPN.com (in addition to ZoogTV) would strongly encourage you to use OpenVPN wherever possible, as PPTP is known to be insecure though the latter is fine for unblocking and streaming when unburdened by anonymity worries.
It’s great to see OpenVPN supported for Apple devices, as very almost no providers currently offer it, opting instead for less secure protocols. Sadly, ZoogTV’s OpenVPN offering uses a bit above standard AES-128, with SHA-1 authentication, while SHA-2 would be decidedly more secure and something for the development team to consider. Handshaking is accomplished using RSA-1024 bit key, though a timely upgrade to an RSA-2048 bit key would be a step-up since many consider RSA-1024 as being susceptible to the NSA, GCHQ and other governmental incursions.
“Session Records: To maintain our quality of service and to assist in the analysis of product performance, we may also gather data on connection information, including the timing and size of all packets sent over the Internet during a session. The gathered information is used only to ensure the highest quality experience possible at ZoogTV. We do not keep any logs of your online activity so you can browse with 100% privacy and confidence.”
“Not at all! Unlike our competitors, we give our clients complete privacy of their online activities by having a zero logs policy. However, we do reserve the right to block certain illegal websites which are by nature prohibited as per our Terms of Service. Some usage logs may be kept to ensure quality of service”
There was indeed some considerable confusion on both sides regarding just what sort of logging is conducted while using the VPN app, as evidenced by the Sales Team’s response. As such, users most concerned with anonymity and security should carefully consider whether the murky logging situation is an unacceptable drawback. Future amendments to the service would do well to abolish logging altogether, as some providers do. Or, maybe clarify further, just so there’s no possibility of misperception.
On a contrasting note, the ZoogTV website is well laid out, with particular attention to readability, and accessibility, for users of all technological experience levels. In fact, it’s no stretch to commend them for having a top-notch website, compared to others I’ve come across.
What’s more, ZoogTV run a blog with information on how to unblock and stream shows, and news about their services, in addition to general security news. They’ve also extensively covered unblocking UK, US, and Canadian programming – while located in or outside of those countries (likely because the programming is the most in-demand).Their FAQ section serves its purpose well, without making the information several clicks away. Instead it relies on succinct, but informative dropdown texts, when clicking on any particular question. I found this to be a most welcome quirk. For more detailed explanations, navigate to the Resources section.
ZoogTV offer 24/7 support through email or the support ticket function. Replies were well-received and responses were timely and thoroughly courteous. Live Chat tech support would be a useful add-on, however, it isn’t a sticking point as much as a suggestion. Free plan users will have to settle for support without having the priority of paid subscribers though I didn’t encounter any difficulties posing as a free plan subscriber. Kudos to the Support Team members.
*Editors note: Support replied that a killswitch and obfuscation (stealth servers) will be included in the next update, and that they were considering Live Chat for support capability to further improve what is an already robust part of their business.
Registration with ZoogTV is fairly simple, and they accept the most ubiquitous credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express, in addition to PayPal, while stating that you don’t need a PayPal account to do so. It’s good to see that you can register for the free plan with just an email address and password although it would be a plus if they accepted Bitcoins for their more privacy conscious users.
ZoogTV provide their bespoke Windows VPN client in the Apps section (as well as OpenVPN for Windows), and precisely detailed set-up guides to get you up and running. There is also an option to manually configure OpenVPN, which deserves special mention, as it was much easier to configure than prior experiences with other manual setups.
The App section for downloading has quite detailed set-up guides for all platforms and expertise levels, replete with screenshots, without being overly complex. I found both the bespoke client and OpenVPN to be functional, without being excessive.
Keep in mind that OpenVPN will only run in the taskbar, and there is no ‘killswitch’ feature if your connection drops, leaving your real IP exposed. It would to see this feature and a DNS leak switch added in future updates. That being said, convenient auto-start when opening the bespoke app, or starting your computer is available.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)
Testing was performed on a 30Mbps connection, using the bespoke Windows client while running Open VPN. Connecting to any particular server took no more than half a minute, while the connections themselves were fairly stable. Speeds were average, at best – averaging at around 4-5Mbps download, with US servers as low as 2Mbps – enough for streaming, but there might be some problems with high-definition videos. Curiously, though, there were no issues while actually streaming, so it might be worth giving the free trial a go.
|Graphs show highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.|
Further commendations are in order since there were no simple DNS leaks. However, the WebRTC bug hasn’t been addressed on ZoogTV’s end yet (with updates forthcoming). As such, you’ll have to manually disable it, if you use either the Chrome or Firefox browsers. To check DNS or WebRTC–which should be done every so often as safe practice – this website will run an automatic test on both here.
Windows 10 users should also beware DNS leakage inherent to the default settings. Open VPN and most bespoke clients should be patched as of this month, but always check to be sure.
ZoogTV have additional support and setup guides for Apple devices (iOS/OS X), Android, and even DD-WRT (if you don’t mind getting your hands a bit dirty with technical details). Therefore, streaming across multiple devices and platforms becomes relatively effortless, after some setting up – of course. Speeds were more than adequate for streaming according to the informal testing I conducted.
ZoogTV Review Conclusion
- Excellent streaming service
- Good customer support
- Decent pricing
- No time limit free-trial with copious data & refund policy
I wasn’t so sure about
- WebRTC leakage
- Run-of-the-mill encryption
- Confusion regarding logging practices
In summary, ZoogTV provide a no-frills service with a clear focus on unblocking and streaming over the highest security levels. Their free plan is excellent value, and a frankly ludicrously good offering, compared to the other free plans on the market. While there are some security issues from a detail-oriented perspective, they don’t detract from the unblocking ethos, but rather serve to highlight it as the crux behind ‘TV’ in ZoogTV’s title. With consistently good-to-great speeds, a stylishly functional website, and various customizable VPN client options, now might be the time to try ZoogTV.