Hi TwoSocks, I wouldn't bother purchasing software to hide an IP address. I don't think it's worth your money. I think a proxy is a good and simple idea. For both of these products I wouldn't think there is any installation. Definitely no installation for a proxy, don't know about the software that masks an IP, but probably not. The software that hides the IP address would probably slow down surfing less, just because using a proxy is one more step to take in your surfing. Having said that though the slow down, if any with the proxy, would probably not be noticeable. I think both are secure and reliable enough. As far as hiding your IP temporarily, using a proxy would allow you to just close the window and start afresh. Both should be simple, easy, and well.. "idiot proof".
Final verdict: I say use the proxy. I wouldn't purchase the software unless you understood exactly what it did, how it worked, and whether you needed it. Personally, for this case, I'd say it's overkill. If anything, the proxy is free and temporary. If you decide you don't like it or it slows down your browsing then dump it.
Another option that hasn't been mentioned is talking to your ISP. It shouldn't be too much trouble for them to assign you a new ISP each time you connected to the internet (or if you're connected 24/7 like most, every X days). There may be an extra fee for it though. If do any torrenting though this probably will mess with that.
Yet another option is to use a software called Peer Guardian. It's mainly used for the bit torrent users but also seems applicable to your situation. It seems to block IP addresses that the lists deem harmful. You can check it out here http://phoenixlabs.org/pg2/
It's free and easy to work with also. Install, update the lists, and go from there. I use it and I actually block quite a few things coming from China, probably just coincidence. They advertise as being for privacy fiends so it seems like a good idea. It does run in real time and so if you have a slower PC the lag it puts on it might be noticeable but it's not on mine. Some people claim it uses bandwidth, I don't know but it doesn't slow down my surfing. Also, you can start it and turn it off at will while I think the stuff you were thinking about purchasing might be permanent.
This is one that I've used before: http://shareandcare.info/index.php?referre...n=profileby=266
Just enter whatever website you go to into the box. You can google for plenty more that are free and work.