Home entertainment: a quick guide to streaming services, VPNs and audiobooks
Around a third of the global population is under lockdown or subject to other restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, what will you do with all your extra hours at home?
Here, The Local offers a guide to some of your leading options for streaming services and audio books – as well as VPNs that can unblock regionally-restricted content and protect your privacy.
Amazon Prime Video
Home to popular series such as The Grand Tour, The Man in the High Castle and Mozart in the Jungle. New films are added every month and you can watch on up to three devices at a time. Amazon has around 150 million Prime subscribers, who get Prime Video included.
This niche provider specialising in factual series was founded by Discovery Channel creator John Hendricks. Available worldwide, it covers science, technology, history, nature and more. Kids’ programmes offer education on everything from space probes to tsunamis. CuriosityStream has grown rapidly to pass 13 million subscribers.
Here you’ll find content from Walt Disney Studios, Twentieth Century Fox, Marvel Studios, Pixar, National Geographic and more. That means countless animated classics, Star Wars (including The Mandalorian, which gave the world Baby Yoda), and superhero adventures galore. Disney+ passed 50 million subscribers within five months of launching and rolled out to eight European countries in March 2020.
HBO has a long-standing reputation for high quality production with recent successes including the Golden Globe-winner Chernobyl and Westworld. If you want something lighter, its comedy offerings include all ten seasons of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The name has become synonymous with streaming. Netflix has 167 million subscribers – but its global market share has fallen amid growing competition. The choice of TV shows and films is vast and Netflix Original productions such as Stranger Things and Ozark have enjoyed great success.
Virtual private networks (VPN)
Know the series you want to watch or the game you want to play but have found it’s not available in your region? Or maybe you just want online privacy and to protect your digital identity? The answer in both cases is a VPN. Here are five leading providers:
CyberGhost pledges to keep you anonymous online and ensure your entire connection cannot be tracked. One subscription can be used on up to seven devices and apps are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and more.
You can protect an unlimited number of devices with ZenMate, which offers at least 74 global server locations. It offers apps for all your devices. It has attracted more than 40 million users in 160 countries since 2013.
ExpressVPN has servers at 160 locations in 94 countries and invites you to join up to “say goodbye to geo-blocks”. A single subscription comes with apps for all devices and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
This VPN promises “next-generation encryption” and a choice of more than 5,900 servers in 59 countries. NordVPN is compatible with all popular platforms and allows you to secure up to six devices with one account.
SurfShark is not shy of baring its teeth and claims to be “eating other VPN deals alive”. Subscribers can use this VPN on unlimited devices and are able to search Netflix libraries from 15 countries.
Nextory offers audiobooks and ebooks for individuals and families - with subscription packages for between one and four users. Features of the app include the ability to create reading lists, reading diaries and individual child profiles. Find out more about Nextory in Germany or Switzerland.
Storytel offers a range of subscription choices for individuals and families. All of them offer unlimited access and the chance to listen and read via mobiles and tablets. Storytel will also give you book recommendations.
Audible, part of Amazon, offers a vast choice of non-fiction and fiction across many genres; more than 200,000 titles in all. Audible Original Podcasts include documentaries and comedies. Paid membership includes one audiobook per month.
You can now buy a wide range of audiobooks on Google Play, as well as ebooks. You can make purchases without a subscription and get personal recommendations once you've finished a book.
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