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The Best VPNs for Smart TVs + Setup Guides

Best VPNs for Smart TVs

Using a VPN for smart TVs is the best way to unblock streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime. VPNs work on smart TVs, but not on all models. If you have an Android TV or Fire TV, you can just install a VPN app from the app store. But if you have an LG, Samsung, Hisense, or other smart TV model that doesn’t natively support VPNs, you’ll need to perform manual setups.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to use a VPN on your smart TV. We included tutorials for all methods — app installation and manual setups. We also ranked the best VPNs for smart TVs. So keep reading to see which VPNs you should get and how to use them on your smart TV.

Here are the best VPNs for Smart TVs:
  1. NordVPN — best VPN for smart TVs
  2. Surfshark — unlimited connections and fast
  3. AtlasVPN — very affordable plans
  4. PrivateVPN — beginner-friendly TV apps
  5. ExpressVPN — excellent streaming and security

The 5 Best Smart TV VPNs

After testing dozens of VPNs, we managed to find the 5 best VPNs for smart TVs:

1. NordVPN

Using NordVPN on smart TVs provides the best experience. It comes with dedicated apps for Android TV and Fire TV, which are very simple to download and install. Also, the apps are really easy to navigate with your TV remote.

What’s more, this VPN provides excellent streaming support. In our tests, we were able to access US and UK titles on Netflix and Amazon Prime. And we never encountered any proxy errors. On top of that, we also had very fast speeds — all 4K videos loaded instantly and we didn’t experience any buffering when skipping through them.

And NordVPN’s smart TV apps are also feature-rich. You get split-tunneling, which lets you choose which apps use the VPN and which apps use your local network. We ran tests by only sending Netflix traffic through NordVPN, and our streaming speeds increased by 20%. In addition to that, you get CyberSec, which is a very good ad blocker.

Also, this VPN’s smart TV apps come with excellent security features. There are RAM-only servers, meaning every server reset wipes all data. And you also get obfuscation, which hides your VPN traffic, and double VPN connections, which encrypt your data twice. Plus, this VPN’s no-logs policy has passed 2 independent audits.

NordVPN also comes with user-friendly apps for tons of other platforms, which are all feature-rich. This VPN also provides 24/7 live chat, has very affordable plans, and backs each purchase with a 30-day refund.

To learn more about this VPN provider, please check out our full NordVPN review.

Pros:
  • Thousands of lightning-fast servers
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
  • Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
  • Ad blocker and malware protection features
  • Robust security features and military-grade encryption
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Only 6 simultaneous connections
  • No free trial

2. Surfshark

Surfshark comes with feature-rich apps for Android TV and Fire TV, very fast speeds, and allows unlimited connections. 

We had everyone in our team connect their smart TVs at home to this provider’s servers, and we all experienced very fast speeds. We especially liked how 4K videos loaded instantly. That happened even when we used the OpenVPN protocol, which is usually much slower than WireGuard.

Surfshark’s VPN apps for smart TVs are very intuitive and simple to navigate with your TV remote. They also come with tons of features including split-tunneling, obfuscation, and ad blocker. When we tested the ad blocker, called CleanWeb, it got rid of most annoying ads on YouTube. And there are double VPN connections too. Plus, this VPN has advanced security features like RAM-only servers too.

This VPN is also really good for streaming. When we used it, we were able to access any titles we wanted on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+.

Surfshark also provides easy-to-use apps on tons of other popular platforms. Also, it has good 24/7 live chat support, cheap plans, and a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to read more about this VPN? Check out our hands-on Surfshark review.

Pros:
  • Very affordable
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Ad-blocking feature
  • Unblocks streaming platforms
  • Allows split-tunneling and has multi-hop VPN feature
  • No-log policy and strong security features
  • GPS spoofing on Android devices
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • No free version
  • Does not allow P2P seeding

3. AtlasVPN

AtlasVPN has Android TV and Fire TV apps, provides great streaming, and allows unlimited connections. The latter means you can set up and use this VPN on as many devices as you want. So it’s a great pick if everyone in your home wants a VPN for their smart TV or if you want to share the subscription costs with your friends.

This provider’s smart TV apps are very intuitive — you’ll instantly know how everything works even if you never used a VPN. On average, it only took us 5–6 seconds to find and connect to a VPN server.

AtlasVPN also has tons of dedicated streaming servers. That means the servers refresh their IPs very often, so it’s harder for streaming apps to block them. There’s also a SafeSwap feature available on a few servers. It regularly changes your IP address throughout the VPN session. That makes it even more difficult for streaming apps to detect and block this provider’s IPs.

We also had very fast streaming speeds with this VPN service. In our speed tests, HD and 4K videos on Netflix loaded in just 2 seconds, and we never experienced any random quality drops.

AtlasVPN also has apps for mobile and desktop platforms. They come with cool features like a data breach monitoring tool and a tracker blocker. 

This VPN has a decent free plan, but it’s not available on its smart TV apps. But it has some of the cheapest paid plans out there and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:
  • Very affordable plans and it has a free version
  • Fast Speeds
  • Unlimited device support
  • WireGuard protocol and strong security features
  • Torrenting-friendly
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • No Linux app
  • Based in the US
  • Not so many servers

4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN has minimalistic VPN apps for smart TVs, is good for streaming, and is extremely affordable.

Its Android TV and Fire TV apps are user-friendly and only have a few settings to change. So you don’t feel overwhelmed using this VPN, making it a good pick for beginners. Also, we really like how the settings that are available come with helpful explanations.

And this is a very good VPN for TV streaming. When we used PrivateVPN, we were always able to bypass geo-blocks on Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Hulu. Plus, we also enjoyed blazing-fast streaming speeds. In our speed tests, 4K videos loaded in 3 seconds and we never experienced buffering — despite using a WiFi network with a weak signal.

We also like that this provider’s smart TV VPN apps come with obfuscation, called Stealth VPN. You can use this feature to hide your VPN traffic from your ISP and get around VPN blocks.

PrivateVPN also has apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS that are very user-friendly. It has 24/7 live chat, some of the most affordable plans on the market, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:
  • Supports P2P traffic and allows port forwarding
  • Unlimited bandwidth and great speeds
  • Unblocks most streaming platforms
  • Zero-logging policy
  • Free Static IP servers
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Not as many servers as other VPN providers
  • No split-tunneling

5. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN on TV provides excellent streaming, high-end security, and easy-to-use apps for Android TV and Fire TV. The apps have an intuitive design that makes it very simple to find and connect to VPNs servers.

We ran dozens of tests, and we were always able to unblock streaming apps like Netflix, Crunchyroll, Disney+, and more with this VPN. In fact, the provider claims to unblock 65+ streaming apps, so you get tons of variety.

In addition to awesome streaming support, you also get very fast speeds. When we used ExpressVPN on our smart TVs, 4K videos loaded instantly and they never froze or buffered.

This provider also provides excellent security features. Its no-logs policy has been independently audited and verified, and the audit’s results are available online. Also, it has RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy. The latter means this VPN changes the encryption key for each session to prevent hackers from compromising your traffic.

ExpressVPN has intuitive apps for all other platforms, including routers. We actually used the router app to set up ExpressVPN on our office router. With it, we were able to use the VPN on our Samsung smart TV, which doesn’t natively support VPNs. The entire process only took 5 minutes.

This VPN provides excellent 24/7 live chat support. Its plans are a bit pricey, but you get excellent value. Plus, there’s a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you’d like to find out more about this provider, please read our ExpressVPN review.

Pros:
  • Works with streaming
  • Supports torrenting
  • No-logs policy
  • TrustedServer technology with RAM-only servers
  • Premium security features
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Expensive subscription plans
  • Only 5 simultaneous connections

How to Use a VPN on a Smart TV

Not all VPNs work on smart TVs — some devices just don’t have native VPN support. In this section, we’ll show you how to install a VPN on a smart TV that supports VPN apps. Also, we’ll show you how to manually add a VPN connection to your smart TV if it doesn’t have VPN support.

Install the VPN App on Your Smart TV (Android TV and Fire OS)

Android TV and Fire OS smart TVs have native support for VPN apps. And many top providers have easy-to-use apps for these devices, which you can download and install from the app store. To show you how easy it is, we put together a step-by-step guide using NordVPN’s Android TV app.

Step 1: open your smart TV’s app store, and search for your VPN provider.

NordVPN app in GooglePlay store on SmartTV

Step 2: install the VPN app from the app store.

NordVPN installation screen on Smart TV

Step 3: the installation process shouldn’t take more than 1–2 minutes. When it’s done, open the VPN app.

NordVPN app open screen on smart TV

Step 4: log into your account. If you don’t have one, sign up and follow the on-screen instructions to create an account.

NordVPN Smart TV app Login screen

Step 5: choose how you want to log in. Most VPNs allow multiple remote login methods, but they also let you manually log in using your credentials.

NordVPN account login screen with QR code

Step 6: find the VPN server you want to use, and connect to it. If a connection request pops up on the screen, approve it.

NordVPN connection request message on smart TV

Step 7: And you’re done! Your smart TV will now access streaming apps and the web using a VPN connection.

NordVPN connected to the United States on smart TV

Sideload the VPN App on Your Smart TV (Android TV and Fire OS)

If your preferred VPN doesn’t have a dedicated app for Fire TV or Android TV, you’ll need to perform a manual setup. That involves sideloading the Android app using an APK file onto your smart TV. And yes, you can sideload an APK file on a Fire OS device because Fire OS is derived from Android OS.

Here’s what you need to do to sideload a VPN app on your smart TV:

  1. Make sure your Android or Fire TV allows the installation of apps from unknown sources. Here’s where you can find that setting on:
    1. Android TV — Settings > Android Settings > Device Preferences > Security & restrictions > Unknown sources.
    2. Fire TV — Settings > My Fire TV > Developer options
  2. Next, download the VPN provider’s APK file to your device.
  3. Upload the file to a cloud storage platform.
  4. Get a shareable URL link for the APK file.
  5. Open your TV’s file explorer, and add the link.
  6. You should now be able to download and install the app.

Once installed, you can use the VPN app on your smart TV.

Can I Sideload the APK File on Other Smart TV OSs?

We don’t recommend doing that if your smart TV is running a different OS. Brands like Hisense and Smasung have smart TVs that run lesser-known systems like VIDAA TV OS and Tizen OS. If you try sideloading an APK app on those platforms, it likely won’t work and will only take up space.

What’s more, there’s also a risk you might “brick” your smart TV if you try this method, meaning it won’t work anymore. And if that happens, you likely also void the warranty because you tried making modifications to the TV.

Share Your VPN Connection over Ethernet 

You can share your VPN connection from your PC or laptop to your smart TV if you connect the 2 devices with an ethernet cable. That’s a little inconvenient, but it’s a pretty simple workaround.

Here’s how to do this on Windows and macOS:

Windows

Windows Ethernet settings screen
  1. Right-click the network icon in the bottom-right and select Open Network & Internet settings.
  2. Next, click Change adapter options. 
  3. Find the connection that mentions your VPN. For this tutorial, we used NordVPN with the NordLynx protocol, so the connection we wanted was called NordLynx.
  4. Right-click the VPN connection and select Properties.
  5. Head to the Sharing tab.
  6. Check the box next to Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.
  7. From the dropdown menu, pick Ethernet.
  8. Select OK.
  9. Open the VPN app and connect to a server.
  10. Connect your PC to the smart TV with an ethernet cable. Now, the TV will use the VPN connection to access the web.

macOS

  1. Select the Apple icon and pick System Preferences. 
  2. Click Sharing.
  3. On the left, check this box: Internet Sharing. 
  4. If the device you’re using is accessing the web via an ethernet cable, pick the Ethernet option in the Share your connection from dropdown menu. Otherwise, pick Wi-Fi.
  5. Select Ethernet in the To computers using box.
  6. Close the menu and connect to the VPN.
  7. Finally, connect your smart TV and the device with the VPN on it using an ethernet cable. Now, the smart TV will automatically access the web using the VPN connection.

Share Your VPN Connection Wirelessly

Running a long ethernet cable from your smart TV to your laptop or PC gets annoying fast. Plus, it doesn’t look that good. If you want an alternative, you can share the VPN connection over WiFi. Here’s how to do it on Windows and macOS:

Windows

Windows Mobile Hostspot sharing settings screen
  1. Right-click the network icon in the bottom-right of your screen.
  2. Select Open Network & Internet settings. 
  3. On the left, choose Mobile hotspot from the list.
  4. Toggle the Mobile hotspot button on.
  5. Under Share my internet connection from, pick Wi-Fi.
  6. (Optional) You can use the Edit option to change the mobile hotspot’s name and password.
  7. Scroll down and hit Change adapter options. 
  8. Find the adapter that mentions your VPN’s name and right-click it. When we used NordVPN, the adapter was called NordLynx.
  9. Pick Properties and then click the Sharing tab.
  10. Enable the Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection setting.
  11. Open the dropdown menu and pick the network you just created.
  12. Select OK.
  13. Connect to the VPN on your PC.
  14. Now, connect to the network you just created on your smart TV.
  15. You’re done — you’ll now use a VPN on your smart TV whenever it accesses the web.

macOS

  1. Hit the Apple icon and select System Preferences.
  2. Pick Sharing.
  3. Check the Internet Sharing box on the left.
  4. In the Share your connection from list, choose the VPN adapter.
  5. In the To computers using box, choose Wi-Fi.
  6. Connect to the VPN on your main device.
  7. On your smart TV, connect to the hotspot you created.
  8. Congrats — your smart TV will now use the main device’s VPN connection.

Set Up the VPN on Your Router

You can manually set up a VPN on your router. That way, every time your smart TV goes online using the router, it also automatically uses the VPN connection.

Unfortunately, we can’t provide an exact step-by-step guide. The setup process is different from router model to router model. It’s best to ask the VPN provider’s support reps if their service works with your router. If it does, the VPN should have tutorials to help you out.

Still, here’s a generic overview of how the process might work:

  1. Make sure the VPN you’re interested in works with your router model. If it doesn’t, you might have to flash your router and install new DD-WRT or Tomato firmware on it.
  2. Follow the VPN provider’s router setup tutorials.
  3. When you’re done with the setup, pick which VPN server you want to use.
  4. Now, when your smart TV goes online, it will automatically do so through that VPN server.

Get a VPN Router

If manually setting up a VPN on your router sounds like too much hassle, there’s an easier option. You can buy a VPN router, which comes with a pre-configured VPN on it — usually one from a top provider.

While this is very convenient, keep in mind that this is the more expensive option. VPN routers usually cost over $100.

Can You Create Your Own VPN Server?

Yes, you can create and use your own VPN server. However, we strongly advise against doing this — here’s why:

  • Renting a virtual server isn’t cheap. It’s actually less expensive to just get a paid VPN like NordVPN.
  • Setting up and configuring the VPN is very difficult — most virtual servers run on Linux. A few run on Windows too, but they’re more expensive and still hard to use.
  • If a streaming app blocks your VPN server’s IP address, you need to lease a new IP. Some data centers might give you one for free, but others might charge extra for it.

All in all, it’s much better to just get a VPN — ideally one that has apps for Android TV and Fire OS, if your smart TV runs one of those systems. It’s simply much easier to use a VPN on your smart TV that way. Plus, most top providers have very affordable long-term plans and also come with generous refunds.

The Best Free VPNs for Smart TVs

Normally, we recommend that you avoid free VPNs. Most of them don’t have apps for Android TV and Fire TV. What’s more, many free VPNs are very slow, have data caps, don’t work with streaming apps, and lack essential security features.

That said, if you insist on trying out a free VPN, here are some decent options:

  • ProtonVPN — has one of the only free plans on the market that comes with unlimited data. Also provides access to fast speeds, strong security, and an Android TV app. But there’s no Fire TV app, so you need to side-load the Android app. Also, the free plan limits you to 1 device, servers in 3 countries, and it lacks streaming support.
  • hide.me — this VPN’s free plan includes both Android TV and Fire TV apps. It also has very fast speeds and good security. However, the free plan limits you to 10 GB of data per month, 1 device, and servers in 5 locations. And there’s no streaming support.
  • Windscribe — its free plan includes a Fire TV app, servers in 10 countries, fast speeds, and unlimited connections. Also, there’s good streaming support. But you don’t get an Android TV app, so you have to side-load its Android app. Also, the free plan limits you to 2 GB of data per month, which can go up to 10 GB if you verify your email on signup.

All in all, it’s still better to use a paid VPN for streaming VPNs — you simply get a better streaming experience. And most paid VPNs, like NordVPN, have very affordable plans and back all purchases with generous money-back guarantees.

Why Use a VPN on a Smart TV?

Here are the main reasons to use a VPN on your TV:

  • Unblock streaming content — streaming apps like Netflix and Disney+ don’t always let you watch whatever you want. Some titles might not be available in your country. A smart TV VPN hides your real location, allowing you to watch your favorite shows and movies anywhere in the world.
  • Prevent bandwidth throttling — ISPs sometimes slow down your speeds when you use too much data. And that can easily happen when you binge streaming apps for hours on end. But a VPN encrypts your traffic, which makes it completely unreadable. So, your ISP can’t selectively throttle your speeds because they don’t know what you’re doing online.
  • Secure your traffic and privacy — VPNs hide your traffic, so cybercriminals can’t spy on it. Also, they hide your IP address, so websites and advertisers can’t use it to track your online movements.

How to Pick the Best VPN for Smart TVs

These are the metrics we used to rank our top picks:

  • Smart TV apps — all the VPNs on this list come with dedicated apps for Android TV and Fire TV. So no manual setups are needed on those systems. 
  • Streaming support — most of you probably want a VPN for TV streaming. We made sure that all the VPNs we recommend work with top apps like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.
  • Fast speeds — using a VPN might slow down your speeds due to the encryption–decryption process. But the smart TV VPNs we recommend minimize the slowdown so that it’s not noticeable. 
  • Ease of use — all our top picks have smart TV apps that are very easy to download, install, and navigate. They also have apps for other platforms like iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS that are also user-friendly.
  • Large server network — all the providers in this article have hundreds or thousands of servers in tons of countries. So it’s very easy to find a nearby server to get fast speeds. Plus, you can unblock tons of streaming apps.
  • Strong security — we only recommend VPNs that come with industry-standard security features. They provide no-logs policies, bank-grade encryption, leak protection, and kill switches.
  • Extra features — the VPNs on this list also have additional features. Some of them have split-tunneling, ad blockers, double VPN connections, and more.
  • Good value — we only picked VPNs that have very affordable plans and generous 30-day money-back guarantees.

Smart TV VPN FAQs

These are the most common questions people ask about using a VPN for smart TVs. If you have more questions, just leave them in the comments and we’ll try to reply as soon as possible.

Can I Use a VPN on My Smart TV?

Yes, you can use a VPN on your smart TV — but how you use it depends on your TV’s model. If it’s running the Android or Fire OS, you can just download and install a VPN app from the app store. If the VPN doesn’t have a dedicated app, you can side-load its Android app on your TV.

However, some smart TV brands like Samsung, Sony, and LG sell TV models that don’t have native support for VPNs. To use a VPN on those TVs, you need to do one of the following:

  • Share your VPN connection to the TV over an ethernet connection.
  • Share your VPN connection to the TV over WiFi.
  • Set up the VPN on your router.
  • Get a VPN router.

Can You Put a VPN on a Smart TV with a Smart DNS?

Not exactly. A smart DNS is a tool that hides your location by changing your device’s DNS data to allow you to access geo-blocked content on streaming apps. And yes, you can manually set it up on your smart TV. But a smart DNS is not a VPN — it doesn’t hide your IP address and it doesn’t encrypt your traffic.

You don’t need to get a smart DNS as a standalone service. Top providers like NordVPN come with a smart DNS alongside the VPN, and they provide setup guides that show you how to use the smart DNS on your smart TV.

What Services Can You Unblock with a VPN on Your TV?

If you use a good VPN for smart TV streaming, you’ll be able to unblock almost any streaming app. Here are some examples of popular streaming apps we unblocked with NordVPN:

How to Access Netflix US on Your Smart TV

Here’s how to use a VPN on a smart TV to unblock Netflix US:

  1. Sign up for a good Netflix VPN — we recommend NordVPN.
  2. On your smart TV, find the provider’s VPN app on the app store.
  3. Install the VPN app.
  4. Open the app, log in, and connect to a US server.
  5. Open the Netflix app and start binging US content!

If your smart TV runs an OS that doesn’t support Android TV or Fire TV apps, you need to perform manual setups. You need to either share your VPN connection to the US server via ethernet or WiFi or set up the VPN on your router and connect to a US server. Once done, open the Netflix app on your smart TV — the TV will automatically access Netflix via the US VPN server.

Can I Use a VPN on Multiple Devices?

Yes, most VPNs allow you to connect 5–7 devices simultaneously. Some top providers, like AtlasVPN and Surfshark, even support unlimited connection, meaning you can use the VPN on as many devices as you want.

Can I Use a Free VPN for Smart TVs?

We don’t recommend doing that. Most free VPNs don’t have VPN apps for smart TVs. What’s more, many free VPNs have very slow speeds and buggy apps. And they also usually limit you to anywhere between 500 MB and 10 GB of data per month, which is not enough for HD or 4K streaming.

The Bottom Line

If your smart TV runs Android or Fire OS, you’re lucky because you can download and install a VPN app from the app store. Otherwise, you need to perform manual setups to use a VPN on your smart TV. Which setup method from our article did you end up using? Also, please let us know which smart TV VPN you think provides the best streaming experience.

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