What's the best way to stream over a VPN on a TV?

What’s the best way to stream over a VPN on a TV?


Smart TVs running Android-based operating systems can run VPN clients directly. If your smart TV doesn’t, you can buy an Amazon Fire TV device and install a VPN on it. Finally, to use a VPN with smart TV and streaming device platforms that don’t support it, you can buy a VPN router.

If you have a smart TV, you might be wondering what’s the best way to connect it to a VPN so you can access different Netflix regions, as well as protect your connection. Let’s take a look at your options for streaming with a VPN on your smart TV.

Why use a VPN with a Smart TV

The main reason to consider running your smart TV’s internet connection through a virtual private network is to access the libraries of various streaming services. Netflix and others have plenty of content, it’s just that some of it is only available in certain countries. VPNs are the best way to get there because they can bypass the blocks that keep you out.

If you want to use a VPN for Netflix while on your smart TV, you have two ways to do it. You can either install VPN software directly on your smart TV, or you can use some kind of VPN router. Both have something to say about them, with the first way being the easier of the two.

Install a VPN on your Smart TV

The easiest way to use a VPN with your smart TV is to install the software directly on the TV. However, not all smart TVs allow you to do this, namely Roku TVs. If your smart TV runs on Android – most TVs from Sony and Panasonic, for example – you can either install the VPN app via the Google Play Store or download the APK file and install it. The whole process should only take a few minutes.

If you don’t have a smart TV that runs on Android, or your TV is an older, “dumb” type, you still have options, namely Amazon’s streaming devices, the Fire Stick and the Fire TV Cube. These devices can be connected to any TV with a USB port and essentially turn them into smart TVs. They’re neat little things, and they’re not too expensive either.

Best Fire TV device

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

For just a little more money than the Fire Stick TV Lite, you can get the Fire Stick TV 4K, which offers a Dolby Vision upgrade and TV controls on the Alexa remote. With 4K streaming, it’s much more future-proof.

Both Fire TV devices use Amazon’s Fire OS, which is based on Android, so much the same method applies as with “real” smart TVs. You access the settings, go to the app menu and install your VPN software.

Whichever of these options sounds good to you, installation is as easy as installing any app from the Google Play Store. Within a few minutes, your VPN should be set up and hopefully you’ll be watching whatever Netflix show you like.

However, there is still a small catch: not all VPNs will work equally well on a smart TV or Fire TV. Whichever VPN you like, you should check whether it will work on these platforms or not. Two providers that are sure to work are ExpressVPN and NordVPN, although there are many others.

Using a router to connect a Smart TV to your VPN

If you don’t have a smart TV that can install Android apps and you don’t want to use Fire TV, you still have another option, which is to use a VPN router of some kind. These come with all sorts of benefits, but if your only goal is to use a VPN with a smart TV, we recommend going the Fire TV route explained above as it’s a lot less hassle to set up.

VPN routers are just like a regular Wi-Fi router (the one that likely beams Wi-Fi around your house), but have a VPN installed. This means that all devices connected to it are using the VPN. It’s a pretty good way to let even devices that can’t have VPN software installed use a VPN. Smart TV is just one example; you can even get a printer to connect securely to the internet via VPN this way.

However, VPN routers have a downside: routers that can handle VPN software are generally not cheap, and many will also require manual installation, which can get complicated quickly. One of the best WiFi routers in this case is the Asus AX6000 (RT-AX88U), but you can also check out the Linksys WRT3200ACM.

Best Wi-Fi router overall

Asus AX6000 (RT-AX88U)

Our favorite Wi-Fi 6 router offers 6000 Mbps speeds and is packed with features. It’s a good middle ground between a budget router and a more expensive model packed with advanced technology.

If all that sounds like a bit too much work, there’s another option, namely ExpressVPN’s Aircove. This VPN router is ready to go right away, but of course it only works with ExpressVPN and has a price tag of $100 per month. Still, if you want to easily connect your smart TV to one of the best VPNs out there, it’s a really good option.

Alternatively, you can also set up your Windows computer as a virtual router. If you don’t mind a bit of tinkering, it might be a good option for people who don’t want to use Fire TV or set up a VPN router. However, it can eat up a lot of bandwidth and would mean running both your computer and smart TV at the same time, which doesn’t work for everyone.

What is the best way to connect a Smart TV to a VPN?

VPN routers are cool and come with more pros than cons, but require some setup and initial investment. If you’re not the techie type or don’t really see the need for a specialized router, the best way to connect your TV to a VPN is to buy a smart TV that runs Android. If you don’t have the money for that, buying a Fire TV streaming device is your next best bet.

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