For years, folks have itched for the convergence of PCs and entertainment. With smart TVs, it arrived. Even better, smart TVs are becoming more affordable. As such, soon, most sets will have in-built smart services.
So, What’s a Smart TV?
A smart TV, also called “connected TV,” is an internet-based TV set that supports movie streaming apps such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon.
While smart TVs are often available as stand-alone products, you can make your regular TV “smart” using set-top boxes that support advanced functions.
The advent of smart TVs has brought a new dimension of capability to our viewing experience. The main benefit of smart TVs is access to a jillion channels that offer TV programs, music, and movies without needing to subscribe to a satellite/cable service or connect a TV antenna.
Note that a large number of smart TVs allow web browsing, online gaming, and more. And there lies a security problem.
Smart TV Privacy Issues. And Why You Need a VPN?
Smart TV users are often more susceptible to privacy issues than users of regular TVs. And yes, your smart TV can be hacked.
For the matter, cybersecurity experts have demonstrated ways to access a smart TV connected to the internet and steal passwords. That’s where a VPN comes in.
As mentioned, a smart TV can channel entertainment from the internet to TV. However, there’s still heaps of content you can’t access because it’s region-blocked because of the rules governing copyright holders. A VPN can also help you unblock such geo-blocked content.
Confused on how to find the right VPN service for your smart TV? Let’s see the best VPNs to use.
Best VPNs for Smart TVs
We reviewed several dozen VPNs and narrowed down the selection to only the best providers. Here’s a summary of the top 5 VPNs that worked best with smart TVs:
- ExpressVPN: Our #1 recommended VPN for super-fast connection speeds, impressive security, and exceptional unblocking abilities. Moreover, the provider offers round-the-clock customer service.
- NordVPN: This is a server-rich provider with rock-solid privacy and security protections. Plus, the service supports a wide range of devices and routers.
- CyberGhost: An easy-to-use VPN service with a dedicated streaming tab. CyberGhost provides high-quality service at a reasonable price.
- IPVanish:One of the fastest VPNs on the market with servers across the world. Owns and operates all its servers, which adds to the level of security and privacy.
- PrivateVPN: A stable VPN service with a solid track record for reliability.Thanks to their in-house managed servers and hardware. Into the bargain,it’s an inexpensive option with remarkable unblocking power.
All these VPNs are compatible with the most widely used smart TV brands. To help you decide on the best VPN to protect your smart TV viewing sessions, I evaluated and ranked the top VPNs for smart TVs using the following criteria:
- Unblocks popular streaming sites
- Has strong privacy and security protections
- Fast connection speeds
- Global server coverage
- Router support
- Offers reliable customer support service
Here’s the list of top 5 VPNs for use with your smart TV.
ExpressVPN is an all-rounder VPN for smart TVs. The service checks all the right boxes from leveraging exceptional anonymity while online to unblocking restricted content. And more.
The VPN provider allows users to access a listing of more than 3,000 servers in over 94 countries worldwide. This dramatically helps the service to rank highly when it comes to reliability and speeds, allowing for stress-free viewing.
ExpressVPN is privacy and security-conscious. The service secures users’ connections using AES 256-bit encryption, which is further enhanced using a DNS leak protection, and ExpressVPN’s kill switch, also known as “network lock.” Better yet, the VPN doesn’t record any user activity or their IP addresses.
The VPN service easily unblocks numerous streaming services, including Netflix, HBO, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video.
ExpressVPN makes router firmware with pre-installed software, which can be used on any compatible router.
Setting up a VPN on a smart TV might not be as easy as it sounds. As a result, you may want to use a VPN that offers reliable customer support. ExpressVPN excels on this front by providing knowledgeable and steadfast 24/7 support via live chat.
- Military-grade encryption
- Exceedingly fast and consistent speeds
- Easily installs at the router level
- 24/7 live chat support
- Hefty price tag, but worth it
No matter your location, NordVPN, most likely, has a server near you. The VPN provider packs over 5,200 servers spread across 60 countries. The servers are reliably fast and are optimized for streaming.
Noteworthy, the provider has XOR obfuscated servers to circumvent censorship. In addition to this, some servers are optimized to thwart DDoS attacks.
The service protects your connection with AES 256-bit encryption with OpenVPN. Also, the provider adheres to a strict no-logs policy.
NordVPN comes with many advanced security features. To start, it boasts an intelligent kill switch, double encryption, and a CyberSec feature.
CyberSec isn’t only tasked with assassinating malware but also safeguarding you against phishing, and risky ads.
The VPN can be set up on a router. Even more, the service offers step-by-step tutorials for routers.
NordVPN allows you to unblock numerous streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer. Thanks to NordVPN SmartPlay that helps the service fly under the radar of streaming media giants.
Are you experiencing any difficulty? The VPN provider offers 24/7 support through live chat. Plus, you can get a customer rep to help you out with your router set up.
- No-brainer to install
- Fast, secure connections
- An extensive network of servers, with specialty servers
- NordVPN SmartPlay
- Apps aren’t always user-friendly
CyberGhost is an affordable, easy-to-use VPN with plenty of smart features. One of its major highlights is the task-based interface. For instance, the service doesn’t leave you to guess the best server to unblock a streaming service.
The VPN comes with an in-built “For Streaming” tab, allowing you to select the service you want, and automatically connects you to the best server. This enables you to unblock most streaming sites, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.
With more than 5,500 servers in over 90 countries, the VPN delivers good speeds for stress-free streaming.
Speaking of speeds, the VPN service provides a Data Compression feature that compresses pictures and other elements to hasten load times further, and reduce your data usage.
The VPN provider delivers rock-solid security using AES-256 encryption. This is advanced using DNS leak protection, and a kill switch, ensuring your traffic goes through the encrypted tunnel.
CyberGhost doesn’t keep user logs. Plus, it comes with a built-in anti-malware, ad, and tracking blockers.
The VPN also features great smart TV apps that install quickly and are simple to use, making it an ideal option for beginners.
CyberGhost can also be configured to work on numerous routers, with helpful tutorials. However, if you get stuck, you can always seek help from the customer service assistants via live support chat.
- Dedicated streaming servers
- Super simple to function
- Fast connection speeds
- Great smart TV apps
- Apps lack some features liked by groups of advanced users
IPVanish can be configured to work on several routers, allowing you to use the VPN on your smart TV. To save you some trouble, the VPN offers FlashRouter preconfigured Wi-Fi routers.
It’s a no-logs VPN; thus, they don’t sell users’ browsing history to third parties. On the same note, the service secures your private information with AES 256-bit encryption.
It comes with a kill switch and DNS leak protection. Unfortunately, this feature is only available for Windows and macOS.
Although the VPN service doesn’t come with a built-in ad blocker, you can still connect to IPvanish servers using third-party ad blockers.
IPVanish is a Top Tier VPN provider. It owns and operates over 1,300 anonymous servers spread across more than 75 locations. The former kills your internet if the VPN connection is lost.
While the service can unblock popular streaming services, like Netflix US and BBC iPlayer, it’s not the best in this area.
IPVanish offers excellent customer support via 24/7 live chat. Also, you can assist yourself via the help section, or send them an email. Besides, there are comprehensive set-up guides for all platforms.
- Doesn’t keep any user logs
- Owns and operates its servers
- Fast download speeds
- Speedy live chat support
- Shorter money-back guarantee
PrivateVPN is an inexpensive newcomer with a relatively small server network. The provider operates just over 100 servers in 60 countries. Don’t let this fool you; the VPN packs a competitive punch.
The VPN service delivers fast speeds and unblocks numerous streaming services, making it an ideal option if you’re looking to stream. You can configure this service using a router, allowing your smart TV to stream Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO, Sky GO, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
Thanks to its name, the VPN logs neither users’ browser activity nor session history. For your information, the service claims that they don’t know what you’re doing.
Similarly, the service secures your connection using both AES 256-bit, 128-bit encryptions, depending on the protocol you’re using. The VPN service also comes with a built-in kill switch and DNS leak protection.
Note that the provider doesn’t outsource support. Or so they claim. As such, if you run into problems, you talk directly to the developers, so you can be sure to get reliable technical help if you need it.
A friendly customer rep responded to my question in 45 seconds. Aside from this, when you login the first time, you’ll more likely be greeted with a tutorial to start you off.
- Unblocks numerous streaming services
- In-house support
- Provides smart TV apps
- Advanced configuration settings
- Relatively few servers
How to Use a VPN on a Smart TV?
Not all smart TVs are built the same. As such, there’s no single way to set up a VPN service that’ll work with all of them.
While some latest models of smart TVs allow you to install a VPN app on them directly, numerous other smart TVs require manual installation.
Setting up Your VPN on a Router
Setting up a VPN on a router is one of the most flexible ways to use a VPN. For instance, if your VPN is installed on your home router, every gadget that connects to your home Wi-Fi hotspot automatically connects to the VPN. How to do it?
First. Download your router firmware
Second. Connect your router
Third. Flash your router
Fourth. Connect your VPN
Fifth. Hurrah! You’re now connected!
Is a Free VPN a Good Option for Use with a Smart TV?
While a free VPN might appear more attractive, in reality, they often fall short. First, a free VPN service will less likely work with your smart TVs. Nevertheless, if it does, it will present significant issues to address.
Free plans lack server selection option and are known to deliver slow connection speeds. Worse, free services lack strong security and privacy protections. Others are plague-ridden with malware!
Still bad, most free VPNs insert tracking cookies, log user activity, and sell users’ browsing history to advertising companies.
All said and done; free VPNs are fine for simple tasks, like-say protecting your smartphone hotspot traffic on the impromptu trip. But, if you want anything more advanced, a premium VPN is the best.
Selecting the Best VPN for Your Smart TV
Smart TV owners who’d want to watch content that’s been blocked by their local government might want to use a VPN.
Moreover, a VPN for smart TV also prevents hackers, corporations, and ISPs from knowing what you’re browsing. But, not all VPNs are created equal. Here are some considerations when choosing a VPN for your smart TV:
The ideal VPN for your smart TV should deliver a wide choice of server locations. This way, you can move your virtual location, hide your IP address, and access a wide range of region-blocked content. But there are a few exceptions.
A good VPN should deliver fast connection speeds. An extremely slow VPN will load low-quality images and will result in unceasing buffering.
A qualitative VPN should provide you with private and secure connections. For this reason, your favorite VPN should protect your connections when using the internet.
A combo of AES 256-bit, with OpenVPN protocol, is mind-boggling enough to protect your smart TV against cybercriminals. Plus, an ideal VPN should adhere to a strict zero-logs policy. That way, you can be sure your browsing history isn’t shared with third parties.
Compatibility with Routers
If your smart TV doesn’t work with the VPN apps, then you’d want a service that provides detailed instructions. Also, your provider should offer round-the-clock reliable support for extra help with the setup.
All the listed VPNs are compatible with smart TVs and are going to help you unblock streams of fantastic content. They are fast, secure, with servers around the world, and so on.
Notwithstanding the said, ExpressVPN earns the #1 spot on our list. It’s easy to install, simple to use, user-friendly interface, and it’s full of features.
The VPN provider has thousands of servers all over the world. Excellent speed test performance. It unblocks numerous streaming services, even in hard-censored areas. Allows anonymous browsing, and secures your connection with military-grade encryption.