With the rise of streaming platforms and Smart TVs, accessing your favorite content has become easier than ever. However, geo-restrictions and privacy concerns can hinder your viewing experience. Enter the world of VPNs – a solution that can enhance your smart TV experience by unlocking a world of content and securing your internet connection.
In today’s guide, we’ll dive into how VPNs work with Smart TVs, the best VPNs to use with your Smart TV, and how to easily set them up for an optimal streaming experience.
Top VPN Recommendations for Smart TVs
With numerous VPN providers available, it can be challenging to choose the best one for your smart TV. Here are our picks for the best VPNs for Smart TVs:
- NordVPN – Best overall VPN for Smart TV. Excellent speeds, fast and secure apps, easy setup option for Smart TVs, and tons of features (69% off coupon)
- Surfshark – A budget-friendly VPN for Smart TV with fast speeds and great apps
- ExpressVPN – Reliable and user-friendly VPN for Smart TVs, but expensive
- IPVanish – Fast, reliable, and affordable VPN for Smart TV with excellent apps
These VPN providers offer a combination of excellent speeds, large server networks, and strong security features, ensuring an optimal experience with a variety of Smart TV apps.
Why Use a VPN for Smart TVs?
The internet has revolutionized the way we consume content, and smart TVs have become an integral part of our entertainment experience. However, despite the convenience they offer, there are limitations and risks associated with their use. For instance, some Smart TVs may not support all streaming platforms or may have limited app availability, which can restrict your content options.
Additionally, privacy and security concerns arise as these internet-connected devices can be vulnerable to hacking and data breaches. Your viewing habits and personal data could potentially be tracked and collected by anyone from your ISP to national intelligence agencies and hackers. Smart TVs can also be affected by malware and viruses, which can disrupt your viewing experience and compromise the device’s functionality.
This is where VPNs come in, providing distinct advantages that can elevate your Smart TV experience. Employing a VPN on your Smart TV allows you to access geo-restricted or geo-blocked content that you otherwise couldn’t access from your current location. VPNs enhance your privacy and security by encrypting your internet traffic and concealing your IP address.
With most smart TVs supporting VPN apps directly or through a VPN-capable router, setting up a VPN has never been easier.
Access Geo-Restricted Content
Often, streaming platforms impose geo-restrictions on their content, limiting access based on your location. It can be incredibly frustrating when you cannot access your favorite shows because of your current location. A VPN can help bypass these restrictions by masking your IP address and assigning a new one from a different location, making it appear as though you are accessing the internet from that region.
Smart DNS, another option to access geo-restricted content, reroutes your connection without the added benefit of encryption. While Smart DNS can unblock streaming services and may be slightly faster than a VPN, it does not provide the same level of security as a VPN.
Ultimately, a VPN is a superior choice for accessing geo-restricted content on your Smart TV, ensuring both access to your desired content and a secure connection.
Enhance Privacy and Security
Smart TVs, like any internet-connected device, can be vulnerable to security threats and privacy concerns. A VPN can help mitigate these risks by:
Encrypting your internet traffic so that outsiders can’t tell what you are watching or apply bandwidth throttling when you are streaming content.
Obscuring your IP address so that outsiders can’t tell it is you that they are spying on.
Preventing external entities like ISPs or government agencies from monitoring your online activities.
All of the VPNs we review here can mitigate your risks as described. Three of them also include ad blockers, which can enhance your streaming experience by preventing ads, trackers, and even malware from getting access to your Smart TV. Using a VPN on your Smart TV gives you the peace of mind to enjoy your favorite content, secure in the knowledge that your privacy and security are protected.
Prevent Bandwidth Throttling
Bandwidth throttling is a practice employed by some ISPs to regulate internet connection speeds, often affecting streaming performance on Smart TVs. A VPN can effectively prevent bandwidth throttling by encrypting your internet traffic and masking your IP address.
This obstruction prevents your ISP from tracking or monitoring your usage, ensuring smooth streaming on your smart TV without any annoying buffering or decreased quality. Employing a VPN ensures an uninterrupted streaming experience on your smart TV.
NordVPN – Best VPN for SmartTV
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 live chat|
NordVPN is a top-tier provider renowned for its robust security measures and advanced features. With the rise in cyber threats and geo-restrictions, NordVPN emerges as an excellent choice, particularly for Smart TV users.
We found installing NordVPN on our TCL Android TV to be fast and easy. As you can see, once installed and running, you get easy access to a rich set of features.
NordVPN is based in Panama and is committed to preserving your privacy. This is shown by its strict no-logs policy, a policy that has been independently audited multiple times.
NordVPN offers impressive speed with its advanced VPN tunneling protocol, NordLynx, and a massive network of over 5,700 servers across 60 countries. NordVPN’s speed and global server presence prove beneficial for Smart TV users, since it allows you unrestricted access to streaming platforms, including Netflix, from anywhere in the world. As a matter of fact, we rate NordVPN as one of the best VPNs for Netflix.
Streaming on Smart TVs often requires high connection speeds to ensure a smooth, buffer-free experience. In this regard, NordVPN excels. We conducted speed tests by connecting to various NordVPN servers worldwide. These tests have consistently yielded impressive results, with the Seattle server hitting a whopping 755 Mbps download speed on our 1,000 Mbps internet test rig. This was the fastest VPN download speed we ever recorded, at least until October 2023.
Moreover, NordVPN’s user-friendly apps, professional 24/7 live chat support, and additional security features like Threat Protection Lite further enhance its appeal. Notably, the Threat Protection Lite feature blocks ads, trackers, and malware, ensuring a safe and uninterrupted streaming experience on your Smart TV.
NordVPN faces some sharp competition from Surfshark, another excellent VPN for Smart TV. NordVPN is generally faster than Surfshark thanks to its NordLynx VPN protocol. It also has a larger server network, with 5,700+ RAM-only servers and 10 Gbps bandwidth channels vs 3,200+ for Surfshark. Unlike Surfshark and most other competitors, NordVPN does not use any virtual servers.
NordVPN is a feature-rich, high-quality, high-performance service that supports 6 simultaneous VPN connections for a “cheap VPN” price. As you shall see, Surfshark is almost as fast and almost as feature-rich as NordVPN, while offering an unlimited number of simultaneous connections for an even lower price.
In conclusion, it was a tight competition, but we consider NordVPN to be the top pick as a powerful VPN for Smart TV users, offering high-speed connections, robust security measures, and a vast server network. Its user-friendly nature and excellent 24/7 live chat customer support further solidify its position as a top choice.
As of October 2023, NordVPN has Smart TV apps for Android TV, Android TV boxes, and Fire TV.
- User-friendly and reliable apps
- Double-VPN and Tor-over-VPN servers
- Passed numerous 3rd-party audits
- Strong encryption standards with full support for WireGuard
- Works with Netflix and many streaming sites
- Threat Protection feature to block ads, trackers, and malware
- Professional 24/7 live chat support
- Consistently fast speeds
- Dedicated RAM-servers with 10 Gbps bandwidth channels
- Big discounts only available with 2-year plans
Want more information? You can get it in our complete NordVPN review.
Surfshark – A Fast, Cheap, Secure SmartTV VPN
|Based in||The Netherlands|
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 live chat|
Next on our list is Surfshark. This is another fast, feature-rich VPN service that can notably enhance your Smart TV experience. Surfshark consistently outperforms many of its competitors, including ExpressVPN, the #3 VPN on our list. They recently addressed our biggest gripe about them by successfully completing a third-party audit of their no-logs policy.
As you can see in the image above, Surfshark gives you easy access to important features like their CleanWeb ad, tracker, and malware blocker, as well as Bypasser, their split tunneling feature. It is also extra easy to set up on your Smart TV if you are already using Surfshark on one of your devices. Start the installation process on the Smart TV, and Surfshark displays a code that you can enter into a Surfshark app running on your computer or other device. With that you can escape the sometimes tedious task of entering your login credentials using a TV remote control.
In the previous section, we noted that NordVPN has many more VPN servers than Surfshark, and that none of those servers are virtual servers. What we didn’t mention is that Surfshark’s 3,200+ servers are spread across 100 countries, as opposed to the 60 countries served by NordVPN. This makes Surfshark a great option if you need access to streaming content in less-commonly-covered countries, such as Greenland or Paraguay, neither of which has VPN servers from NordVPN (or ExpressVPN or IPVanish for that matter). With more servers in more locations globally than almost any other service, Surfshark can usually provide an uncrowded server in your preferred location.
Like NordVPN, Surfshark supports the WireGuard VPN protocol, a newer, faster, and possibly more secure VPN protocol than the industry-standard OpenVPN protocol. Using WireGuard results in quicker connection times and faster streaming content, making Surfshark a superior choice for Smart TVs. During our speed testing, we found that Surfshark’s download speeds were comparable to those of NordVPN, sometimes slightly faster, and sometimes slightly slower.
Surfshark also excels in terms of security and privacy, offering top-tier protection with AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption and an automatic kill switch, similar to what NordVPN and ExpressVPN provide. And like NordVPN, Surfshark proves its commitment to your privacy by being one of the few VPN services that has a strict no-logs policy and is situated in a jurisdiction with no data retention laws. They have had their no-logs policy audited by Deloitte, a respected global firm. Put that all together and you can see that your online activity remains entirely private, a feature that is especially crucial when streaming content on your Smart TV. We rate Surfshark as one of the best VPNs for streaming any kind of content.
Another area where Surfshark shines is in the excellent value it provides. This service is available for a very low price but does not compromise on features or performance. The fact that it allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections means your Smart TV viewing will never interfere with other simultaneous users of the VPN.
Overall, Surfshark’s impressive server network, high-speed connections, robust security measures, excellent streaming capabilities, and competitive pricing make it an outstanding VPN service for Smart TVs.
As of October 2023, Surfshark has Smart TV apps for Fire TV (version 2 and later), and for Android TV (Android OS 5.0 and later).
- Unlimited connections
- User-friendly apps for all devices and operating systems
- CleanWeb feature to block ads, trackers, and malware
- Works great with Netflix and many other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Strong encryption and security features (audited)
- Limited support for VPN routers
- Above average monthly prices
Our complete Surfshark VPN review has lots more info on this quality service.
ExpressVPN – Reliable and User-Friendly
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 live chat|
ExpressVPN has long been a leading VPN service. But the competition in the VPN space is fierce and no service can rest on its laurels for long. Challengers such as NordVPN and Surfshark have pulled ahead in some areas, while revitalized competitors such as IPVanish are emerging threats.
But the team at ExpressVPN has responded to the challenge by improving their own service in many ways, from implementing their own advanced VPN protocol (LightGuard) to adding new features like an adult site blocker and auto-updater, to boosting their coverage to include servers in over 100 countries.
On top of all that, ExpressVPN has been, and remains, an excellent VPN for Smart TV users. Instead of piling on the features like many competitors, ExpressVPN has remained an easy-to-use, extremely reliable service. When it comes to Smart TV devices, ExpressVPN may well support a wider range of devices than any other VPN service. They offer apps for Android TV, Fire TV, and NVIDIA Shield devices. They also support many other devices through their VPN router app or their ExpressVPN Aircove router, a device that comes with ExpressVPN preinstalled.
Note: ExpressVPN also offers a MediaStreamer service, a Smart DNS system that enables you to stream content from around the world, but does not provide the protection of a full VPN. We cover the pros and cons of this approach later in this article.
A distinguishing feature of ExpressVPN is its commitment to privacy and security. Their new LightGuard VPN protocol is faster and more secure than OpenVPN, although not as fast as the WireGuard protocol used by their leading competitors. In addition, they are continuously undergoing third-party audits of their no-logs policy, as well as every other aspect of their service.
Although it is one of the most trouble-free VPNs you will find, it is nice to know that ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live chat support. We have long been impressed with ExpressVPN’s customer service, a group that has always been responsive and professional.
In conclusion, ExpressVPN is a fine choice for Smart TV users. Its fast HD streaming, secure video watching, extensive device compatibility, commendable no-logs policy, and outstanding customer support make it an excellent VPN service.
ExpressVPN provides Smart TV apps for Android TV, Fire TV, and NVIDIA Shield. They also support virtually any Smart TV device (including Apple TV) if you use their ExpressVPN Aircove router or install the ExpressVPN app on your own router. We’ll talk more about how to set up this kind of connection later in this article.
- User-friendly and secure apps
- Split tunneling feature (for macOS, Windows, and routers)
- Works with Netflix and most streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Passed independent third-party audits for security and no-logs
- Very large server network
- Above average prices
- Fewer features than other leading VPNs
Considering this service? Get the full story in our ExpressVPN guide.
IPVanish – Fast, Secure, and fully-featured VPN for Smart TVs
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||Email and Chat|
IPVanish has been around for a while now. In the past, we had problems with the service and did not recommend it to our readers. That has all changed recently. This service has improved massively, and will soon likely start appearing on several of our “best VPN for X” type lists.
When it comes to the topic of this article, IPVanish is now one of the best VPNs for Smart TV users. Based on our most recent tests, IPVanish is now fast, stable, and does an excellent job of streaming content. They provide apps for major Smart TV devices, including the IPVanish tvOS (Apple TV) app.
While IPVanish doesn’t have as many VPN servers as NordVPN, or servers in as many countries as Surfshark or ExpressVPN, it does still have 2,200+ servers with 40,000+ IP addresses, in 75 countries. This server network is larger and more geographically dispersed than the vast majority of VPNs and is certainly sufficient for typical use cases.
We mentioned that the new and improved IPVanish is fast. In fact, it is really fast. During our most recent testing, IPVanish set a new speed record, hitting a download speed of 829 Mbps on our 1,000 Mbps test rig. This smashed the previous record of 755 Mbps which was set by NordVPN just a few weeks earlier. For a head-to-head comparison of these two speed demons, check out this NordVPN vs IPVanish article.
You do, however, need to take care. Whereas NordVPN’s speed test results were pretty consistent, regardless of which of our standard target cities we connected to, IPVanish speeds varied a lot when connecting to those same cities. The speeds recorded by NordVPN ranged from 755 Mbps to 592 Mbps. The speeds recorded by IPVanish ranged from 829 Mbps to 262 Mbps, a massive difference. You will want to take advantage of the IPVanish 30-day money-back guarantee to test download speeds in your location with your equipment to see whether IPVanish is fast or slow for you.
IPVanish is also competitively priced, assuming you are willing to invest in a long-term subscription. As is common in the VPN industry, IPVanish offers massive discounts on their Yearly and 2-Year subscriptions.
Another major new feature of IPVanish is its support for unlimited simultaneous connections. As with Surfshark, this means that you can happily view your VPN-equipped Smart TV regardless of how many other devices are in use at the same time.
IPVanish is based in the United States, which is not the best jurisdiction for a privacy-oriented service like a VPN. However, IPVanish has strong security features that keep your data safe, and its no-logs policy has been audited by Leviathan Security Group.
When it comes to customer support, IPVanish does a commendable job. The VPN service provides extensive support to its users, ensuring any issues are swiftly resolved for an uninterrupted Smart TV viewing experience.
So, if you’re looking for a VPN service that is user-friendly, reasonably priced, and allows unlimited simultaneous connections, IPVanish could be a great choice for enhancing your Smart TV viewing experience. Thanks to the major improvements to this service it is now a worthy contender in the Smart TV VPN market.
As of October 2023, IPVanish has Smart TV apps for Apple TV (tvOS), Fire TV (version 2 and later), and NVIDIA Shield. They also support virtually any Smart TV device if you install the IPVanish app on your own router, or purchase a router with IPVanish preinstalled. We’ll talk more about how to set up this kind of connection later in this article.
- Strong security features, multiple VPN protocols, and a kill switch
Extremely fast and reliable connection speeds
Wide range of reliable apps
Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Audited, no-logs policy
Ability to unblock popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer
- No cryptocurrency payment options
- Based in the United States
Our new IPVanish review covers the impressive improvements this service has made recently.
How to Set Up a VPN on Your Smart TV
Setting up a VPN on your Smart TV involves either downloading and installing a compatible VPN app, configuring the VPN on a router, or utilizing Smart DNS services. Each method has its pros and cons, but all will help you unlock geo-restricted content and enhance your smart TV experience.
If your Smart TV has an app store, you can simply download and install a VPN app directly onto your TV. This is the most straightforward method, but it’s important to note that not all VPN providers offer apps that are compatible with all Smart TV models.
You can also skip the VPN and use Smart DNS services to bypass geo-restrictions and stream content that would otherwise be out of your reach. This method doesn’t provide the same level of security as a VPN, but it can be faster and easier to set up. It’s a good option if your main goal is to access geo-restricted content, and you’re not as concerned about the security benefits of a VPN.
Regardless of the method you choose, setting up a VPN on your Smart TV can greatly enhance your viewing experience by providing access to a wider range of content and adding an extra layer of security to your internet connection.
Android TV Setup
For Android TVs, setting up a VPN is a straightforward process. Here’s how to do it:
Download and install the VPN app from the Google Play Store.
Follow the on-screen instructions to connect to a VPN server.
Once connected, you can access your desired content without any restrictions.
Keep in mind that not all VPN apps are available on the Google Play Store for all Android TVs. In such cases, you must check if your chosen VPN provider has a compatible app or an alternative method for setting up the VPN on your smart TV.
Non-Android TV Setup
For non-Android TVs, setting up a VPN requires sharing the VPN connection from another device or configuring the VPN on a router. Sharing the VPN connection can be done either through an Ethernet cable or wirelessly, depending on your smart TV and VPN provider.
If your Smart TV doesn’t support VPN apps directly, configuring the VPN on a router is another option. This method ensures that all devices connected to the router, including your Smart TV, benefit from the VPN’s protection. However, many routers cannot support the installation of a VPN, and the setup process on those that do can be complicated.
One additional option is to configure your VPN-equipped computer to act like a mobile hotspot, and connect the Smart TV to your computer through WiFi. That way, your TV will connect to the internet through the VPN running on your computer. Here are the basic instructions on how to set this up for Windows 11:
- Click the Windows Start button, then navigate to Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile Hotspot.
- Under Share my internet connection from, select Wi-Fi.
- In the Share over field, choose the method through which you’d like to share your connection. This can be over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, with Wi-Fi typically being faster and set as the default mode.
- (Optional) You can customize your hotspot by expanding the Properties section. Click Edit to set a new network name, password, and network band, then click Save to implement these changes.
- Activate the Mobile hotspot feature by toggling the switch at the top of the Mobile hotspot settings page.
To connect another device to your newly created hotspot, simply go to the Wi-Fi settings on that device, locate your network name, select it, input the password you set, and then connect to it.
Smart DNS vs. VPN: Which is Better for Smart TVs?
When it comes to accessing geo-restricted content on your smart TV, both Smart DNS and VPNs can get the job done. However, the two technologies differ in their approach and the level of security they provide.
Smart DNS changes your DNS settings to bypass regional restrictions, allowing you to access blocked content but does not encrypt your connection or hide your IP address. On the other hand, VPNs bypass regional restrictions and provide encryption and IP address masking, ensuring a higher level of privacy and security for your Smart TV experience.
In the end, a VPN is a superior choice for Smart TVs, offering both unrestricted access to content and a secure connection.
Avoiding Common Mistakes When Installing a VPN on Smart TVs
When installing a VPN on your Smart TV, you should steer clear of these common mistakes:
- Attempting to install Android apps on non-Android systems. This can cause compatibility issues or even brick your TV.
- Relying solely on Smart DNS services for accessing geo-restricted content. As we discussed in the previous section, Smart DNS can unblock streaming services but doesn’t provide the same level of security as a VPN.
Troubleshooting VPN Issues on Smart TVs
While VPNs are generally easy to set up and use, there can be instances where you may encounter issues on your smart TV. Common problems include connection difficulties, visible IP addresses despite the VPN being connected (IP address leaks), and general troubleshooting issues.
To resolve these issues, you can try changing VPN servers, using Smart DNS services, or contacting your VPN provider’s customer support for assistance. The best way to deal with these kinds of problems is to avoid them altogether. By choosing one of the great Smart TV VPNs profiled in this article you minimize the chance of ever having problems.
Free VPNs vs. Premium VPNs for Smart TVs
When it comes to choosing a VPN for your Smart TV, you may be tempted to opt for a free VPN service. However, free VPNs often come with slow speeds, server limitations, and security risks, making them unsuitable for Smart TV use. After all, even free VPN services need to pay the bills somehow. From past experience, we have seen that many free VPNs do this by logging your activities and selling the data. Some even resort to installing unwanted apps or malware on your devices.
Premium VPNs, on the other hand, offer enhanced performance and security, providing a better overall experience. While premium VPNs require a subscription fee, the benefits they provide, such as faster speeds, larger server networks, and robust security features, make them the ideal choice for Smart TV users. And with your subscription fee as a source of income, they do not need to resort to trickery or dishonesty to extract money from you.
Investing in a premium VPN service lets you enjoy a seamless and secure experience on your Smart TV while using your favorite streaming service.
Conclusion on using a VPN for Smart TVs
In summary, incorporating a VPN into your Smart TV setup can greatly enhance your streaming experience by granting access to geo-restricted content, ensuring online privacy, and maintaining a secure connection. With top VPN recommendations like NordVPN, Surfshark, ExpressVPN, and IPVanish, you can confidently navigate the world of streaming and enjoy an unrestricted, secure viewing experience.
Choosing a VPN provider judiciously and setting it up correctly on your Smart TV will allow you to unlock a world of content and ensure a secure, unrestricted streaming experience.
Our top recommendation as the best VPN for Smart TV remains NordVPN at the lowest price available today:
Now let’s get into some frequently asked questions.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about VPNs for Smart TVs.
Can you put a VPN on a Smart TV?
Yes, you can put a VPN on your Smart TV – provided your device has an app store that features compatible VPN apps. Otherwise, you’ll need to install the VPN on a router or connect your Smart TV through a computer that has a VPN to get the benefits.
Can a VPN slow down my Smart TV’s streaming performance?
Yes, a VPN may slow down your streaming performance due to the added encryption and routing, but choosing a quality VPN can minimize this impact. Every one of the VPNs profiled here is far faster than average and can provide you with a smooth HD streaming experience on a typical home internet connection.
Are VPNs legal?
VPNs are legal in most countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. While there are some exceptions that impose restrictions on their use, the majority of countries allow VPN usage as a means of protecting online privacy and accessing geo-restricted content.
Do I need a Smart TV to use a VPN?
No, you do not need a Smart TV to use a VPN. The VPNs profiled here can run on a wide range of devices to support streaming, and torrenting, and provide general online security and privacy protection. You can install a VPN on a streaming device and connect that to your TV to gain the benefits of a VPN even on TVs that do not support VPNs directly.
This guide on the best VPNs for Smart TV was last updated on November 12, 2023.