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VPN FOR SMART TV: The best apps for TV platforms in 2020 (5 paid & 5 free)

Last updated: July 10 2020 By Dean Chester

To access the worldwide catalogs of Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and other libraries of video products directly from a TV, you need to set up a VPN. What services offer the best features and conditions? Why is it not enough just to change your region? What to do in cases of censorship? In this article, I will answer these and other main questions.

 
The best VPN services available on Smart TV:
  1. ExpressVPN: If you need guaranteed access to the content of almost any streaming provider for any country in the world, prefer maximum video quality, easy and quick installation, then this service is the best option.
  2. NordVPN: It supports not only all major libraries of video content but can also bypass the strictest censorship. Has a record number of positive reviews.
  3. Surfshark: Smart DNS function for any TV platform that allows you to configure DNS. Supports routers. Access to any region for as low as $1.99 per month.
  4. CyberGhost VPN: Smart DNS. Interesting because of special streaming servers. Supports 4 countries of Netflix.
  5. PIA: Powerful VPN for using with a router. Great for circumventing censorship.
 
Free VPNs for Smart TV (effective only on the router) *: 
  1. Hide.me: The best choice if you are ready to manually configure the VPN on the router. 10GB of traffic per month and support for some popular video services (no Netflix support).
  2. TunnelBear: It supports Netflix, has good speed, but doesn’t support TV platforms and routers. It is interesting only if it is possible to distribute VPN from a computer with Windows or Mac.
  3. Windscribe: Some video services are available with this provider. A limit of 10GB per month. Popular video repositories are only available on a paid version.
  4. ProtonVPN: Good free service without traffic restrictions, but streaming only available for the first two weeks. It is interesting only for bypassing locks when accessing resources without geo-restrictions.
  5. ZenMate: This is a free trial VPN with the ability to change your region for free for up to 7 days.

* free services aren’t suitable for direct use on TV.Smart TV VPN logo

By Smart TV we mean any “smart” TV that has a certain shell in which you can run apps of video services, catalogs of films or Internet channels, YouTube, and other resources with visual content.

Naturally, having received such an opportunity, we want to be able to watch everything we want.

But is it always possible?

Unfortunately, no.  

There are 3 types of restrictions, and at least one of them is encountered by any user of Smart TV:

  1. Geo-restrictions. Films, TV shows, and programs that are released today are distributed under a certain license and with certain agreements with copyright holders. And this makes them available only to a limited list of countries.
  2. Censorship. In some countries, sites that, according to the authorities, could harm citizens or the state are blocked.
  3. A limited selection of apps. The list of available apps on certain TV platforms may vary significantly from region to region. For example, it is very noticeable on Samsung TV.

And, as you already guessed, all these problems are solved by a good VPN. I emphasize the word good, as regular VPNs don’t support Smart TV. This is especially true of free services.

I published this article in order to get around any obstacles to the freedom of choice of what and when to watch. I am sure that the information provided by me will be useful to you since I have more than 15 years of experience using VPNs on a variety of platforms in a variety of conditions.


The best VPN for Smart TV based on the test results

I regularly compare VPN services for different platforms. Summing up the test results of more than 40 services, I selected the 5 best. The first of these is ExpressVPN. This provider is the best way to combine the basic features necessary for TV platforms.

While researching, I took into account:

Comparison of the main characteristics of VPN services
that are best suited for Smart TV

Service Ranking (out of 10) Smart TV platforms Netflix
regions
Speed,
Mbps
Country selection Price (monthly)
ExpressVPN 10 All All >100 94 $6.67-12.95
NordVPN 10 All All >60 59 $3.49-11.95
Surfshark 9 All All >50 63 $1.99-11.95
CyberGhost 8 All 4 40-70 90 $2.75-12.99
PIA 8 No (routers) - >50 45 $2.85-9.95

Keep reading to learn about the features of each of the five best VPN services for Smart TV.


ExpressVPNExpressVPN logo

Main features:

  • Maximum efficiency
  • High speed (over 150 Mbps)
  • Positive reviews
  • MediaStreamer Technology

Overview

When it comes to supporting popular video services, ExpressVPN has been a leader for a long time. Add to this a consistently high speed on these servers, support for all possible platforms and a huge knowledge bank for setting up any devices - and you get the best VPN for TV platforms.

The presence of detailed manuals may seem like a trifle, but even I, a specialist with experience, sometimes turn to their manuals for setting up non-standard devices. Moreover, even when I install another VPN.

And look at the reviews:

Feedback from Reddit about ExpressVPN

Reddit review on using ExpressVPN with Apple TV

Price

The table lists the ExpressVPN tariff plans:

  1 month 6 months 1 year
Monthly cost $12.95 $9.99 $6.67
Money-back guarantee, in days 30 30 30

You can subscribe to the service and find instructions for setting up (or installing, depending on the type of Smart TV) on the ExpressVPN official website.

Conclusion:

  • ExpressVPN supports TV platforms, as evidenced by my tests and user reviews.
  • The service offers IP addresses in 94 countries.
  • Excellent guide base.
  • Up to 5 devices per subscription.
 
ExpressVPN Preview
Get an extra 20% discount on our link
 

Also read:

ExpressVPN for Smart TV


NordVPNNordVPN logo

Main features:

  • 5800+ IP addresses in 60 countries
  • Support for all streaming services
  • High speed
  • SmartDNS and SmartPlay technologies

Overview

NordVPN supports all types of Smart TV, confidently copes with the geo-restrictions of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and others, and supports obfuscation which makes it possible to use it effectively even when they block VPN.

In terms of functionality, it is no worse, and in some respects even better than ExpressVPN. But I put it in second place only because when testing it, US locations (the most popular for streaming) showed a lower speed than that of a competitor. Despite this, the speed is still enough to watch a video in Ultra HD (4K) quality.

I also add that personally, I use NordVPN. It is my main VPN service for work and personal purposes.

Prices

The table lists the NordVPN tariff plans:

  1 month 1 year 2 years 3 years
Monthly cost $11.95 $6.99 $4.99 $3.49
Money-back guarantee, in days 30 30 30 30

You can subscribe to the service, download software, and find instructions for setting up on the official NordVPN website.

Conclusion:

  • NordVPN is suitable for both streaming content and censorship circumvention.
  • Popular among Smart TV users.
  • Has apps for most TV platforms and supports Smart DNS.
  • Up to 6 devices per subscription.
  • It is an excellent tool not only for TV but also for any other devices.
 
NordVPN Preview
Apps for Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, Kodi
 

Also read:

NordVPN for Smart TV


SurfsharkSurfshark logo

Main features:

  • The cheapest VPN that supports Smart DNS
  • Support for all platforms
  • Protocol obfuscation
  • Good streaming support

Overview

If you plan to use a virtual private network with Smart TV for a long time and at the same time want to save a lot, then pay attention to Surfshark. It is the only service that offers a price of less than $2 and at the same time supports Netflix and other media-service providers, and allows you to effectively circumvent censorship.

Another indisputable advantage of Surfshark is the absence of a limit on the number of simultaneously used devices. In fact, you can save several times more by cooperating with friends, neighbors, or colleagues.

The quality and level of services of this provider are consistently high (I have been closely watching it for more than a year and a half).

Price

The table lists the Surfshark VPN plans:

  1 month 1 year 2 years
Monthly cost $11.95 $5.99 $1.99
Money-back guarantee, in days 30 30 30

You can sign up, choose a tariff plan, and download the necessary software on the official Surfshark website.

Conclusion:

  • Surfshark is really cheap.
  • Technical capabilities and services correspond to top-level virtual networks.
  • Effective even in UAE, Iran, China.
  • All platforms support.
  • Allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices per one subscription.
 
Surfshark Preview
Save with an extra-class VPN service
 

Also read:

Surfshark for Smart TV


CyberGhostCyberGhostVPN lgo

Main advantages:

  • More than 6,200 servers in 90 countries
  • Special lists of locations for media streaming
  • Smart DNS
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

Overview

CyberGhost is suitable for 4 Netflix regions (US, UK, DE, FR) and for popular locations of some other streaming providers:

Some of the specialized CyberGhost servers

I should also note that recently, CyberGhost has developed special servers for Netflix Android TV in the above countries.

The speed of popular locations is not always high but sufficient for comfortable viewing.

There are no technologies that quietly bypass VPN protocol blocking.

Price

The table lists the CyberGhost VPN plans:

  1 month 1 year 2 years 3 years
Monthly cost $12.99 $5.99 $3.69 $2.75
Money-back guarantee, in days - 45 45 45

CyberGhost has a particularly long period during which you can return money in case of a motivated unsubscription.

Conclusion:

  • Has an Android TV app and supports Smart DNS.
  • Special servers for certain media services.
  • Up to 7 devices per subscription.

Also read:

CyberGhost for Smart TV


Private Internet AccessPIA VPN logo

Main features:

  •  Only supports Samsung TV through a router
  •  Effective against censorship
  •  Good price
  •  Poor support for popular media services

Overview

To ensure 100% efficiency on Smart TV, the first 3-4 VPN services will be enough for you. But if for some reason you are a supporter of Private Internet Access (and this is not surprising, given its characteristics and capabilities on computers and mobile devices), then here are 3 tips for using it with Smart TV:

  1. The best option is to set up a VPN on the router to which your TVs are connected.
  2. Prefer media services with weak anti-VPN protection, as the PIA failed tests with Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus.
  3. If you don’t want to configure the router, then try to share the VPN from the computer.

Price

The table lists the plans of Private Internet Access:

  1 month 6 months 1 year
Monthly cost $9.95 $5.99 $2.85
Money-back guarantee, in days 30 30 30

Students can get a great discount.

Conclusion:

  • No Smart DNS support.
  • Can be installed on Android TV.
  • Poor support for popular media services.
  • Up to 10 devices per subscription.
  • Directly related to CyberGhost (shared owner).

 Also read:

PIA for Smart TV


Free VPNs for Smart TV that can do at least something

I often see people trying to find a free effective VPN or proxy that will help bypass the geo-restrictions of media-streaming providers or work against blocking. A year or two ago, I myself successfully used some free apps. But times have changed and today it’s almost impossible to find a free VPN for Netflix that would work longer than for 1-7 days without a traffic limit of less than 2GB per month. 

Important: Completely free VPN providers don’t perform such a time-consuming task as circumventing geo-restrictions for media libraries. And those providers that have both free and paid plans do their best to get you to buy a subscription. And support for video content is one of the most effective “baits” to date.

Hide.meHide.me logo

A year ago, with hide.me, I successfully changed the region of my media subscriptions. But recently, all the IP addresses of this provider were listed as proxies. At the same time, less popular TV channels and libraries of video content are still available with hide.me.

True, the service doesn’t support Samsung TV and some other platforms. Hide.me is suitable for Smart TV only when used on a router.

TunnelBearTunnelBear logo

TunnelBear doesn’t support any of the TV platforms and routers. The only way to use it is to configure the VPN distribution on the laptop.

I put TunnelBear in second place because it is the only one of the first 4 services to bypass Netflix protection.

WindscribeWindscribe logo

Windscribe helps only in rare cases, but it is interesting in that it supports Android TV.

It has a limit of 10GB per month and advanced censorship bypass features.

Speaking of benefits, there is the ability to distribute a VPN over WiFi directly from your app. However, it doesn’t work on all laptop models.

ProtonVPNProtonVPN logo

The only free VPN to support Smart DNS, thanks to which fact it is suitable even for Samsung TV.

Disadvantages:

  • Popular media sources available only the first 7 days
  • 4 available countries
  • Low speed

ZenMateZenMate logo

The only free trial VPN provider on this list is ZenMate. This is the younger brother of the giant CyberGhost, which also has special servers for streaming. After 7 days of free use, you will need to decide whether to pay money for this service or look for another VPN.


FAQ

📺 How to set up a VPN on a smart TV?

There are three ways to install VPN on a TV with Smart TV:

  1. Installing a special app from the app directory. This method isn’t suitable for Samsung TV. To use Samsung Smart TV, see the following two points.
  2. Smart DNS settings (changing TV settings using special IP addresses that provide VPN services).
  3. Distribution from a laptop or router. You can find out more about this in the database of major services, for example, ExpressVPN.

📥 How to install VPN on Vizio Smart/SmartCast TV?

You cannot install a VPN on Vizio. But you can change the region for all apps on TV. You can do this in the same ways as for Samsung TV. Namely:

  • Installing a VPN on your router or distributing it from a computer (see the previous FAQ question).
  • Configuring DNS using the data available in the user panel of the selected service.

These methods are also relevant for Hisense Smart TV.

📵 Why is a VPN set up and content for a new region unavailable?

If you’ve correctly configured everything (virtual network or DNS), but don’t see the content for the region you have selected, then be sure to change the settings in the app of your media-streaming service.

For example, Amazon Prime Video won’t show you new content unless you change the country in your account settings:

Change region settings

 In some cases, re-registration may be required.

VPN-Review - Chief Editor
Dean Chester
Cybersecurity and online privacy expert and researcher. He's been published on OpenVPN, EC-Council Blog, DevSecOps, AT-T Business, SAP Community, etc. Dean has been testing VPNs for 8 years.

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