The most important difference is that Winston runs at the network level. This allows it to protect every device you own from spying, tracking and advertising (even on your TV and kid's school tablets).
Ad blockers run on your computer, using up memory, slowing down your PC and occasionally crashing your browser as they run. In contrast, Winston is a standalone device so it does not slow down your computer. In fact, after setting up Winston, we recommend uninstalling any ad blockers that you may be using as they are no longer doing anything useful! You might be surprised at the speed boost you'll get by offloading this useful functionality from your PC.
Ad blockers vary in effectiveness. Most strip merely visible advertising from the web pages you visit while leaving the underlying tracking technologies untouched (this is true even if you use privacy-protection plugins or scripts).
For instance, browser plugins do not stop third parties from recording your IP address or generating browser fingerprints to uniquely identify you. They typically do not work well (or at all) on cell phones and other devices. And of course, everyone knows that advertisers pay ad blocking companies big money to bypass their blocklists.
In contrast, Winston is a complete privacy protection solution. We're focused primarily on disabling the core surveillance technologies (there are many) which are being used to spy on the public. A side effect of this is that most advertising is also blocked in the process, but our goal is not to stop advertising, but only that which infringes on the individual's right to privacy.
The most important difference is that ad blockers are free. Winston isn't. This allows us to avoid sketchy back end data sharing deals that VPNs and ad blockers rely on for their revenue. Remember - if the product is free, you're the product.