Disclaimer: The gauging of the price-to-satisfaction ratio in this review is solely based on the current ongoing promotion and will change depending on whether the prices return to their original numbers
For once, I’m not dealing with physical hardware for a review, instead, my first software job is on the line and I did not expect the subject to be a VPN service.
Yes, I heard you. The penultimate YouTube video sponsor category that rivals the power of Raid: Shadow Legends. Despite the infamy of VPN services creeping into videos for 20 seconds that you might come across every day, this is actually my first time using it and for both curiosity and my own knowledge’s sake, I’ve decided to give it a try.
Let’s see what iTop brings to the table. They better impress me.
For starters, this is one of the first things that popped out after the installation is finished. The good ol’ ‘You may be EXPOSED!’ alert painted in yellow draws your attention easily. Props to them for not going overboard and using the pure red of critical danger.
This is the other part of the “first things” I mentioned because it is logical to just shove all the benefits of a paid plan to a new user, right? To me, I kinda hate this kind of approach, to be honest. But at least you don’t need to fill in your credit card to start using it and you may click on “Still connect to free servers” to continue the zero-dollar journey.
But since we received a review account which is an activated paid plan, we get to review all features and functions available in the application. After signing in, the home page is quite clean and straightforward.
The first thing after launching the program is a big Connect button in the middle that you click and gain access to the closest server for the most responsive web surfing. Your IP pre-connect and post-connect will be displayed at the bottom so you can see its change as the technology camouflages you.
The server selection by default utilizes Smart Location which is just Closest Available Server but it’ll prioritize the one that was the smoothest and not clogged with users.
Additionally, depending on which country’s server you’re connecting, your new “position” will be displayed on the world map too.
Hitting the Change button on the server tab or the All Servers on the left reveals all the servers available for connection. iTop also went forward to split the services into categories that can be either about downloading, streaming, social apps, or gaming.
Scouring through the list and you may see that more than 90% of servers are for VIPs – paid accounts so free users are severely limited in terms of choices.
Browsing this tab from another perspective also hints at the possibility that despite hitting the Connect button on the home page, you may not really get the full connection speed or latency out of the server depending on what you work with.
Conversely, by selecting the server dedicated to the particular service tied with it, you ensure yourself getting the best routing for that low, low latency.
Okay, let’s say you know nothing about the servers or what connecting to them through a VPN can do. Well, the Quick Access tab is here to save the day because it basically tells you in a straightforward and descriptive way. No, don’t you dare click on the Secret Garden tab.
To enforce the idea of a well-protected connection, the Privacy Protection tab is full of it that allows one to pick whatever suit their use case at the current moment. More than half of the togglable options here are paid plan exclusives but I appreciate the fact that some of the more crucial ones like DNS protection and Kill Switch is free.
For Security Reinforce, these are approaching from an “advisor” perspective as all it tells you are the state of certain circumstances and it is best to follow the recommended changes to buff up the overall safety level by closing up potential vulnerabilities. Ultimately, the choice is yours and it is important to pass the trigger back to the user for these kinds of things.
As for Browser Privacy, it’s much more simple as it mainly focuses on wiping cookies, downloaded files, caches, and history – basically wiping all the evidence of you accessing certain sites or using certain services.
The VIP exclusive benefits are leaning toward the quality-of-life side of things as you may get more things to fix up or have the program clean up your tracks automatically.
Since one of the core differences between a free and paid account is the ability to download and torrent files, thus I gave it a try by torrenting an album, and smartly, the VPN program knows I’m trying to “get files” that may land me in legal trouble so it recommends a P2P server.
And yep, the speed it can achieve is about 50% of my maximum bandwidth which I’ll gladly take if it means downloading something really really sneakily.
An Android App?
After browsing the iTop website, I found out they have mobile apps for iOS and Android as well so running an Android phone of mine, I’ve downloaded it to see if is there any difference.
Any difference you ask me? Well, the design language is drastically different here. For one, a history log that logs your past connection and lets you take a quick look (Although I don’t know why would anyone want to review them as part of the main tabs).
The core function is just your bread-and-butter VPN app – select a server, hit the big Connect button, and ding you’re in another country.
As a quick reminder, we have a review account for the PC version but I can’t find any login screens on the Android app instead, you watch a 30-second ad to unlock VIP servers for that session. Features and streamlining levels wise, it is quite a tier below what the PC version offers but it is free so I won’t criticize as much.
All in all, the iTop VPN’s interface design and categorization of services make the user experience really friendly as long as the user can understand English. I’d throw in some extra points to the Quick Access tabs as those tabs have proper descriptions of what they are doing and all users have to do is hit the Connect button and voila.
The extra care on the Privacy Protection app can also tune settings to make the entire browsing environment more secure and perhaps more flexible via the Split Tunnel function for those that need to access different networks with a different connections.
The connection quality is also what I expect out of a paid account which lets you connect to the fastest servers available and it did deliver that across the entirety of the review period, I was able to utilize all of my Internet connection to grab the downloads I need while doing things like watching live streams and seeding uploads without running into disconnections.
Now the real question. Is it worth getting a paid account when you can use it completely free?
Well, the Plans page should make the contrast clear and concise. If you’re fine with just 700MB per day and all you need is a secured connection that blocks the snooping eyes while you do some sensitive transactions through a public access point, then yeah, you can stick with it.
But if you need anything more than that, particularly the removal of the daily quota, then the pricing of the paid plans which is currently having an Autumn Special Sale, by the way, is actually not bad where you can opt for either a 1-Year, 2-Year, or even 3-Year choice with longer commitments resulting in a lower per month cost for as low as just 83 cents USD per month.
For such a low price, you’ll get protected and be able to utilize the full internet bandwidth with no restrictions plus blocking all the ads and trackers across websites. These 3 points are basically what most people are seeking and if you have the need to download torrents or access streaming and gaming services, these are all extra icing given to a “cake” that is already quite good from the base. Therefore, move fast and secure one of these good deals before they run out if you have the extra money to spend right now.
Click here to get access to iTop VPN starting today.