What Is The Best VPN for Smart TVs in 2018?
VyprVPN is the best VPN for use with Smart TVs. The provider supplies speedy connections, good global server coverage and excellent router support.
The provider also offers great customer support. While VyprVPN offers an excellent value for the money, its privacy protections could be better
About Smart TVs
A Smart TV is a flat-screen high-definition television with built-in internet connectivity via a Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable connection.
Smart TVs also include several built-in apps that allow streaming of video and audio content from numerous streaming providers. Apps usually include those from such popular services as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Showtime, Spotify, iHeartRadio and others.
Smart TVs include either a 1080p or 4K display, providing high definition viewing to home users via either over-the-air broadcasters, cable and satellite providers or set-top devices. The displays can also be used for viewing DVD and Blu-ray content, gaming and other video-based activities.
Many Smart TVs also include a built-in web browser, cloud-based photo viewers and even games. Smart TV manufacturers, such as Samsung, LG, Vizio and others, also provide software development kits (SDKs) to allow developers to create apps designed to run on the televisions.
Smart TVs do have drawbacks when it comes to apps. Due to the numerous models and television operating systems available, even in a single manufacturer’s lineup, Smart TV apps can go months without updates, if they are updated at all. New television models debut every year, leading to app makers quickly dropping support for previous models
Top 5 VPNs for Smart TVs
Why Do You Need a VPN for a Smart TV?
Smart TVs offer a wide variety of entertainment options to viewers, including streaming video and audio, as well as light gaming.
However, much of the content offered to viewers is geographically restricted, meaning that movies, television episodes and other content available to viewers in one country might not be available in other countries.
Smart TVs share the same security and privacy vulnerabilities that other connected devices - such as computers, mobile devices, game consoles and set-top boxes - have, leaving users open to monitoring by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), government agencies and hackers.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers users the ability to increase their available entertainment options by allowing them to access geographically-blocked content that might not normally be available to them.
Due to contractual and governmental restrictions, video and audio streaming services, such as Netflix and Spotify, do not offer the same content to their customers around the globe.
A VPN allows users’ devices, including Smart TVs, to appear to be connecting from a different location than where they actually reside. This makes it easier to access geo-blocked content.
The death of Net Neutrality has also led to ISPs being legally allowed to throttle your internet connection speeds if you are accessing (in the ISP’s opinion) too much streaming content or are engaging in other high-bandwidth online activities.
A VPN encrypts your connection, keeping your actual activity protected from the prying eyes of your ISP.
That same encryption also protects your Smart TV from the prying eyes of the government, as well as hackers who would happily attack a television’s sometimes weak security settings to steal your private information.
Hackers have also been known to monitor a victim’s conversations via some Smart TVs’ built-in microphones, which are intended for use with voice commands that are available on many smart displays.
How to Choose the Best VPN for a Smart TV
When deciding on which VPN is the best one to protect your Smart TV viewing sessions, you’ll need to consider multiple factors while you’re researching your options.
I usually include a section that provides information about app support for the connected device I’m covering in the article. In the case of Smart TVs, very few VPN providers offer a native app for the displays. A few do provide apps for Android TV-based displays, but there are still a limited number of those that are available.
I will make a note in the top 5 listings if a particular provider does offer Android TV support.
We will instead concentrate on VPNs that offer support for your home or small business Wi-Fi router, as that is the method you’ll likely use to protect your Smart TV sessions.
Global Server Coverage
Global server coverage is an important consideration for any VPN usage scenario. However, it is of particular importance when searching for the right VPN provider for use with your Smart TV.
If you’re planning on attempting to access geographically-blocked content such as that offered by BBC iPlayer, you’ll find a connection through London, Kentucky doesn’t give you the same access to that streaming service as a connection via London, England does.
Always look for a VPN provider with comprehensive global server coverage, which means a large number of VPN servers placed strategically around the free world. (You won’t find many VPN servers located in China or Russia.)
The table below lists my top 10 VPN providers, ranked according to the number of countries where each provider has server farms, sorted in descending order.
The connection speeds provided by a VPN provider are an important factor when considering its use for your Smart TV 1080p and 4K video streaming viewing sessions. A fast connection is also important for just about any other online activities, such as those performed on your computer, mobile device or game console.
Don’t settle for anything less than a VPN service that provides fast connections, which will be up to any of your favorite online activities.
The providers listed below are ranked according to their connection speeds, fastest down to the slowest.
To calculate the rankings, I first tested the speed of my ISP-provided connections. I then connected to each VPN service and once again tested the connection speeds. The 2 speeds were then compared to calculate the speed percentages used for the rankings.
All connection speeds were tested by visiting the Speedtest website.
Privacy protection is another important consideration when making a VPN-buying decision. Always take a close look at the privacy protections offered by a provider, while keeping the following in mind.
Where is the provider located? Is it a privacy-friendly country? Does the provider retain logs related to their customers’ online activities? If they do keep logs, what type of information is saved in said logs? Does the provider accept privacy-protecting payment methods, such as Bitcoin or merchant gift cards?
The VPN providers listed in the table below are ranked according to the level of privacy protections offered to customers, from best to worst.
At the time of this article, the number of VPN providers offering native app support for Smart TVs is limited to Android TVs, which is a limited portion of the market.
That means that the largest number of Smart TV users wishing to protect their viewing sessions with a VPN will be looking for a service compatible with their wireless router, or perhaps they’ll share their Mac or Windows PC’s VPN connection via connection sharing.
Of the 10 VPN services listed below, only TunnelBear does not feature router support. Router support is a simple “yes” or “no” category, so the providers are listed alphabetically.
Other Factors to Consider
On this section, I’ll share a few other factors that you should consider before making any VPN-subscription-buying decision. While these categories may not be as vital as those listed above, they can still affect your VPN and online experience.
The price of a VPN subscription is likely an important consideration for most of my readers.
While I hope all of you are doing well financially, I’m prone to believe that most of you, like me, appreciate a good deal on anything you buy. I’ve always believed that money is more at home in my wallet than the wallet of any service or equipment vendor I’ve ever dealt with. Nothing personal, business is business.
That said, when you’re price shopping for a VPN provider, don’t simply shop from a “cheaper is better” viewpoint. At the same time, don’t lull yourself into believing that a more expensive provider will necessarily offer a higher level of service.
Always research each provider’s service offerings to ensure they’re not cutting corners in important categories, like connection speed or global server coverage, to keep their prices low.
Also, stay alert, as most providers run promotional pricing deals from time to time. While these deals are a great way to save a substantial piece of cash, you may have to sign up and pay upfront for a longer subscription period to get the lower price.
Readers on a tight budget will be glad to know they can pay for a month-to-month subscription. However, that option will almost always cost you more over time than an annual subscription option would.
The list of providers below are ranked from the lowest-priced provider to the most expensive, in ascending order.
*The prices in the table reflect the monthly cost when paying for an annual subscription. (Annual Subscription Price / 12 Months.)
Let’s hope that none of us ever has to contact our VPN provider’s customer support department. However, it’s likely that many of us will have a connection or billing-related issue that we’ll need to discuss with support agents.
This means that you’ll want to be on the lookout for a VPN service that provides comprehensive service. This ideally includes live chat support, a trouble ticket submission system and a searchable support library/knowledge base.
The providers below are ranked according to the kinds of support offered, the promptness of their replies to support inquiries and the accuracy of those replies.
Note: Phone support is not provided by any of the VPN providers listed below.
Your VPN connection should always be protected with a “kill switch.”
This feature protects you and your valuable personal and business-related information by “killing” your internet connection if you lose connection to your VPN provider. By disconnecting your internet connection, this protects your online activities from the eyes of outsiders.
“Kill switch” is a binary, “yes/no” type of question, so the providers are listed alphabetically in the table below.