You’ve bought a smart TV and can now comfortably stream content without having to connect your computer to your TV monitor. Something’s missing, though. There’s still a lot of content you can’t access because it’s geo-restricted. This is where a VPN comes in.
In this article, you’ll learn how to use a VPN and your smart TV to stream content that is otherwise available only in Canada, the UK, France, Australia or Germany among many other countries. We’ve focused only on the VPNs that are compatible with the most widely used smart TV brands, including Vizio, Samsung, Phillips, LG, and Sony among others.
A VPN encrypts your online traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in the location you choose. It disguises your IP address by replacing it with the IP address of the remote server, making it seem as though you’re accessing the internet from the location of the server. As a result, you’re able to access geo-restricted content from streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. Furthermore, encryption of your traffic makes it impossible for anyone, including your ISP, to monitor your online activity.
With the right steps, you can use a VPN with your smart TV despite many smart TVs not offering native support for VPNs. Therefore, you need a VPN that can be installed on a router or one that allows you to set up a secure Wi-Fi hotspot via your device. Additionally, the service should be able to unblock many streaming services while delivering on security, speed, and reliability. Not every service can meet these requirements.
The best VPNs for smart TV have to meet the following criteria:
- Unblocks many popular streaming services
- Compatible with Wi-Fi routers
- Powerful security features
- Large global server network
- Reliable customer support
Below are our top recommendations for the best Smart TV VPNs.
ExpressVPN is a leading provider that has the ability to unblock many streaming sites, including HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer. The global server network of the provider spans 94 countries and ranks highly when it comes to speed and reliability. It also has its own router firmware that is compatible with all routers. If the process of setting up a VPN on your router seems daunting, you can always buy ExpressVPN’s Wi-Fi routers which come preconfigured.
The firmware is highly user-friendly whether you manually install it on your router or you find it preinstalled on an ExpressVPN router you bought. Its dashboard gives you the option of selecting which devices are covered by the service and which ones use the regular non-VPN connection.
Even so, using a VPN with a smart TV is not as straightforward as setting it up on a smartphone or computer. For this reason, it is imperative that you go for a provider that has a customer support service that responds promptly and helpfully. In this respect, ExpressVPN delivers with its knowledgeable and reliable round-the-clock live chat support.
If you’re not too keen on powerful encryption, you can still use the smart DNS proxy server that comes with every ExpressVPN subscription. Provided your smart TV allows for changing of DNS setting, you can use the proxy feature (referred to as Media Streamer), which can be installed independently of the VPN, allowing you to access video streaming services.
In terms of privacy and security, this provider offers Perfect Forward Secrecy and 256-bit AES encryption. Moreover, you get an automatic kill switch (referred to as “Network Lock” by ExpressVPN) and DNS leak protection. The provider doesn’t record IP addresses or your online activity and keeps minimal connection logs.
You can also use ExpressVPN simultaneously on up to three devices, be they MacOS, Windows, Android, iOS or Linux. All the provider’s subscription plans come with a 30-day hassle-free money-back guarantee and you get three free months when you sign up for the annual plan for the first time.
With this provider, you can unblock a number of streaming services, such as Hulu, Netflix, Sky Go, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. The service can be set up on a router, allowing you to use your smart TV to stream content that is otherwise geo-restricted. Alternatively, you can buy a DD-WRT or Tomato routers that spare you the trouble of manual configuration.
With many of its servers optimized for streaming, this provider is reliable and fast. Its server network is present in 60 countries and has more than 3,500 servers, meaning you should experience no difficulty finding a good connection. In case you run into any problems, the customer service representative can assist you through the live chat support service.
Various security features are available, including 256-bit AES encryption, a process-specific kill switch, Perfect Forward Secrecy, and DNS leak protection. Some of the servers are optimized for the prevention of DDoS attacks. You can get up to six simultaneous device connection with the basic plan. Native apps are supported for all major device platforms.
As with the last two providers, IPVanish can be set up on your router, allowing you to use the VPN with your smart TV. When it comes to streaming, it may not be as powerful as the last two providers and it can’t unblock Hulu or Netflix. Nonetheless, you can enjoy a wide variety of popular streaming services. To avoid the hassle of manual installation, you can buy a router that comes with IPVanish preinstalled.
Kodi users and torrentors are particularly fond of this VPN service. Many smart TVs don’t support Kodi. If your smart TV is among the few on which Kodi can run, IPVanish is the best option for a VPN. For troubleshooting and set up help, the provider’s customer support team is always available to assist.
The provider allows for up to five simultaneous device connections at a time and you can download the app on MacOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.
This is an upcoming provider in the VPN industry and even though its global server network is smaller than all the providers mentioned so far, it’s still managed to earn a place in the top ranks thanks to its speed and reliability. You can manually configure PrivateVPN on your router, thereby all you to use your smart TV to stream geo-restricted content from Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Sky Go, and BBC iPlayer.
PrivateVPN also gives top providers a run for their money when it comes to privacy and security. As the name suggests, it doesn’t keep records of users’ online activity. The provider employs 128-bit and 256-bit encryption as well as a variety of security protocols. All this is accompanied by a built-in kill switch, DNS leak protection, and Perfect Forward Secrecy. Up to six simultaneous connections are allowed with this service. Mobile apps are available for iOS and Android and desktop apps are available for MacOS and Windows.
CyberGhost has redeemed its reputation in recent years, following a change in the ownership. The provider is now focused on unblocking streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix by continually growing its global server network. You can configure the service to work on your router to grant you access to all the channels you want on your smart TV.
Is it okay to use free VPNs with a smart TV?
On the face of it, using a free VPN might seem like a good idea. The truth, however, is that the majority of these services are not up to standard. To begin with, it’s not likely that a free VPN service will be compatible with a smart TV and it likely will not offer reliable support in case you run into problems.
Even if it does work, other practical issues arise long connection wait times, limited server selection and slow speeds. Furthermore, the likely result of trying to use a free VPN service to access a geo-restricted streaming service is the frustrating error message.
Besides the above issues, you will likely have to contend with weak privacy features and poor security. Not to mention that many free VPN providers track your online activity in order to deliver targeted ads or sell it to third parties. In the end, VPN services are investments that you can’t afford to skimp on.
Setting up a VPN with your smart TV
Needless to say, smart TVs aren’t all built the same, meaning there’s no single process for setting up a VPN that will work with all of them. There are many smart TV manufacturers, including LG, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, TCL, Philips, and Vizio.
You can directly set up a VPN on some of the latest models of smart TVs. For instance, a majority of Sony smart TVs are Android-based so you can simply install a VPN app on them. Still, you need to manually install a VPN on a majority of the smart TVs in the market.
Once you set up your VPN on your home router, all the devices connected to your home network will be covered. This includes your smart TV. In case the firmware on your router supports configuration of a VPN, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Otherwise, consider replacing the firmware on your router with Tomato, DD-WRT or any other VPN-compatible firmware. Just keep in mind that flashing your router may cause damage if you go about it the wrong way.
Alternatively, you can purchase a router that has a VPN preinstalled. We recommend ExpressVPN routers as the firmware is built for the router and it highly intuitive. IPVanish and NordVPN are also good options when they come preinstalled in a router. Most leading VPN providers offer step by step instructions for manually setting up the service on a router.
You’re better off searching for a setup tutorial for your router instead of looking for VPN instruction for your specific smart TV because the configuration procedures for smart TV vary too widely. Premium VPN providers are keen to make sure their customers enjoy the benefits of privacy and security regardless of the device they’re using.
In the event that you run into any problems while trying to set up any of the above VPNs with your smart TV, contact the customer service team via social media, email or live chat and you should get prompt assistance.