Android TV boxes are small plug-and-play devices that connect to your TV and give you access to TV shows, movies and games.
They can turn almost any TV into a smart TV, allowing you to access popular streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and others directly on your TV, rather than through the small screens of laptops, tablets and phones.
Some users who are expats from other countries, on vacation or overseas for work may want to access TV streaming services from their home country on an Android TV box. Unfortunately, much content is geo-locked, meaning services will only allow you to access the content library of the country you’re currently in.
The good news is that you can get around this roadblock, because the method that streaming services use is fairly simple to bypass, if you know how.
Most streaming apps and websites block overseas users by detecting their device’s IP address, which reveals their current location. An IP address works a lot like a mailing address and tells other servers on the internet where a device is located in the world.
To get around this and unblock content, you can sign up for a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which can change your IP address to one in another location. This can trick the app or website you’re using into thinking you’re located in a country that allows the content you want. Then the service unblocks those streams, and they become available to view.
I have evaluated the available VPN options and discovered the 5 best VPNs for Android TV boxes in 2019. In this easy-to-follow guide, I review each VPN, covering their strengths and weaknesses.
How to Set Up a VPN With Android TV Boxes
Most good VPNs come with an Android app that you can download to Android TV boxes and Android phones or tablets. Typically, these apps are available from the Google Play store or from the VPN provider’s website.
Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to use a VPN with an Android TV box.
- Subscribe to a VPN provider that works well with Android TV boxes. I recommend ExpressVPN as the best for Android TV boxes.
- Visit the Google Play store on your Android TV box.
- Download the app from your VPN provider.
- Log in with your VPN account credentials.
- Once logged in, choose the VPN server you want to connect to in the VPN app.
- Your connection is now secure, and your IP will be displayed as in the country you selected.
Note: If you can’t access Google Play on your specific TV box for any reason, there’s another way to add the VPN to your TV box to enhance your security and unblock geo-restricted content. This method is called “sideloading,” and it’s more complex than using an app.
Should you need support on sideloading your VPN, I’ve added instructions at the bottom of this article.
The Best VPNs for Android TV Boxes
Below, I review the top 5 VPNs to help you with video streaming, unblocking geo-restricted content and enhancing security on your Android TV box.
I will go into more detail further on, but here’s a quick summary of the top 5 VPNs for Android TV in 2019.
- ExpressVPN: My #1 choice for Android TV boxes in 2019 is ExpressVPN. Does a great job of unblocking geo-restrictions on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer. Built with fast speeds and a range of top security features.
- NordVPN: This VPN features a large network of servers, so it’s capable of unblocking content from a number of countries around the world. It works well with Android TV boxes and major streaming sites, including Netflix.
- CyberGhost: A growing VPN provider that can unblock geo-restricted sites, including Hulu and Netflix. Allows 7 connections from a single subscription, so you can protect your Android TV box and your other devices.
- Surfshark: Surfshark is a very fast VPN with a good number of servers. It’s able to unblock popular streaming services, including Amazon Prime and Netflix. Support for an unlimited number of devices is a big plus.
- PrivateVPN: While this provider has a smaller server network than others, it still covers a large number of countries and records very high speeds. Security is also very robust.
In order to evaluate the VPNs on this list, I used the following criteria.
- Streaming speeds and connection stability
- Dedicated Android app
- Separate Android APK file for manual installations
- Ability to unblock a number of streaming services
- Good security and privacy controls
Here’s my list of the best VPNs for Android TV boxes in 2019.
ExpressVPN delivers fast speeds that are great for streaming, and which help you watch your favorite shows or movies in HD while using the VPN on your Android TV box.
There’s a dedicated app for Android devices, which is easy to download, set up and use. For those who need to manually add the VPN, there’s also the option to download the APK package.
This provider also delivers an extensive VPN server network, with over 3,000 servers in more than 90 countries, so users can unblock content from a number of different countries.
Security and user privacy is among the best available from any VPN, with high-level 256-bit AES encryption. There’s also an internet kill switch, as well as IP and DNS leak protection to ensure privacy is kept intact.
ExpressVPN follows a no-logs policy, so no user information is stored or shared.
In addition to the Android app, there are also apps available for Microsoft Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux and Amazon Fire TV. ExpressVPN also offers support for Apple TV via its MediaStreamer service, and the VPN can be manually installed on routers and Roku devices.
ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Fast streaming speeds
- Dedicated app for Android, as well as APK package
- Unblocks Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Operates a network of more than 3,000 servers spanning 94 countries
- High level of security and privacy
- It’s pricey compared to some other VPNs
BEST VPN FOR ANDROID TV BOXES:ExpressVPN is my #1 choice VPN for any Android TV box. The provider offers an easy-to-use Android app, plus fast speeds, excellent security and a generous 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN provides decent streaming speeds on most servers, in addition to some very fast servers optimized for streaming content. This is a useful feature when using the VPN with an Android TV box to watch your shows or movies with a high picture quality.
There’s a dedicated app for Android devices, which you can download onto your system from the Google Play store. There’s also an APK file you can use to sideload the VPN onto your Android TV box, if required.
With more than 5,000 servers in 60 countries, Nord offers one of the largest server numbers around, giving users access to content from a range of different locations, including the U.K., Australia, the U.S., Canada and others. This enables you to unblock all the major streaming services, including Netflix.
When it comes to security, NordVPN is equally effective. There’s 256-bit AES encryption that is currently impossible for cybercriminals or hackers to compromise.
DNS and IP leak protection mean even your ISP can’t see what sites and services you are accessing online, while a no-logs policy means your data can’t be shared with anyone else.
NordVPN allows 6 connection from each account, which is generous, especially considering that the subscription fees are lower than many other comparable providers.
The Android app is great for your TV box, but your other devices are covered too, with apps for macOS, Windows and iOS platforms.
- Decent streaming speeds, with some optimized servers
- Android app that works well with Android TV boxes
- Unblocks BBC iPlayer and Netflix
- 24/7 customer support
- Desktop apps can be slow
BEST BUDGET VPN:NordVPN is a perfect choice when working on a budget. A good option for Android TV, it offers impressive HD streaming and simultaneously supports up to 6 devices. NordVPN keeps no personal logs and offers other good security features. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost offers rapid speeds and a growing network of servers around the world, making it a good choice for Android TV boxes.
The CyberGhost Android app is user-friendly, and even beginners should be able to easily handle downloading, installing and using it without too much trouble. Should it be required, there’s the option to use an APK file to sideload the VPN onto your device.
CyberGhost scores pretty well with unblocking content thanks to over 3,700 servers located across 60 countries. The VPN can unblock BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
CyberGhost puts a lot of focus on security and doesn’t record your browsing history, IP address or connection times. All traffic is encrypted to the highest standards with 256-bit AES code.
As previously mentioned, CyberGhost comes with an app for Android, but it also has apps for Windows, macOS, iOS and Amazon Fire TV.
- Very fast speeds
- Easy-to-use app for Android TV box
- Unblocks most streaming services
- Top-notch security
- Has trouble unblocking some streaming sites
GREAT VALUE:CyberGhost combines rapid streaming speeds with an easy-to-use Android app. Top-level security features and a no-logs policy make it a good choice for Android TV box users. 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
Surfshark gives users very fast speeds, which is a big plus for those streaming TV shows in HD.
This provider is very good at unblocking popular streaming services, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime, and this will give users more choice of content when using their Android TV Box.
Surfshark comes with an Android app ready to install, making it simple to get set up on any compatible Android device.
While this provider is a relatively new VPN and offers a smaller network than other providers (500 servers), it covers over 50 countries, providing access to content from around the world.
Surfshark provides great privacy, with a no-logs policy that records absolutely no user data. Security options are also impressive, offering top-level 256-bit AES encryption, making it almost impossible for anyone to break into your private data.
Alongside the Android app, there’s support for Windows, macOS, Windows, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.
- Very fast servers
- Easy-to-use app
- No-logs policy
- Relatively small server network
EASY TO USE:Surfshark delivers rapid speeds and access to many top streaming services. With solid security and privacy features, it keeps your private details secure online. Unlimited simultaneous connections make it a good value. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of Surfshark.
PrivateVPN ranks as one of the fastest VPNs in business today. The speeds can help support high-quality TV streams, so you can watch your favorite shows in perfect clarity.
The PrivateVPN Android app is easy to use and has a clean interface, allowing users to simply select the server location they want to connect to.
Even though this provider only has a small network, comprised of just 150+ servers, they cover more than 60 countries, meaning you’ll have the option to unblock content from various locations.
I found PrivateVPN works well with Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, making it ideal for Android TV box users who enjoy these streaming services.
Security is a priority for PrivateVPN, and it uses the industry-leading 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IP leak protection, plus a kill switch for the Windows version of the app. The provider also doesn’t save any logs of user activity.
PrivateVPN’s Android app covers your TV box and all your other Android devices. Plus, PrivateVPN apps are available for Windows, Mac and iOS.
- Rapid streaming speeds
- App operates well with Android TV boxes
- Unblocks Netflix in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere
- Very low server numbers
- Doesn’t work in China
SUPER FAST:PrivateVPN works well with Android TV boxes, and it’s good for general use, as well as downloading and torrenting. Speeds are very impressive, and there’s good security and privacy protections, too. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of PrivateVPN.
Can I Use a Free VPN on My Android TV Box?
When you’re looking to use a VPN to access geo-restricted content securely on an Android TV box, it’s best to avoid a free VPN.
A free VPN typically does not come with all the features you need to make your viewing experience on an Android TV box enjoyable, private or secure.
Free VPNs usually have smaller networks of servers, use bandwidth restrictions and employ low-level encryption standards. When it comes to performance, streams can be interrupted and servers can become overloaded with traffic.
Free VPNs sometimes don’t offer Android apps, which are needed to make adding the VPN to your TV box as easy as possible. It’s also true that some free VPNs sell user data to make money.
To stay safe with VPNs, I would advise you to stick with trusted and reputable paid providers that have well-outlined privacy policies.
How to Set Up a VPN on an Android TV Box Manually
While all 5 VPNs recommended in this review provide simple-to-use apps for Android, you may have a device that requires the VPN to be added manually.
Follow the steps below to manually install and configure a VPN with an APK file.
How to Manually Install an APK File
In order to manually install an APK file, visit your chosen VPN provider’s website. Log into your account and check for the link to the APK file. This will most likely be under the Android app section on the VPN provider’s website.
To give you a workable example, I will look at the process required to “sideload” a VPN with an APK file from ExpressVPN.
Note: ExpressVPN only recommends this if you’re using an older version of Android – below Version 5.0 (Lollipop) or if you cannot directly download ExpressVPN from the Play Store.
- Start by plugging a USB flash drive into your computer.
- Next, load the ExpressVPN website and sign in. Choose Set Up on More Devices > Android > Download APK.
- Save the APK file to your computer and then move the APK file onto your flash drive. Then, remove the flash drive from your PC.
- Turn on your Android TV box and enable your device to install apps from unknown sources by going to Settings > Security and restrictions. Turn on “Unknown sources” and press “OK” when the warning message appears.
- Next, download and install the FX File Explorer file manager app from Google Play.
- Once installed, plug the flash drive into the Android TV Box.
- In FX File Explorer, open the USB. Find the ExpressVPN APK downloaded in Step 2 and then select “Install.”
- Once installed, click “Open.” ExpressVPN is now available to use on your Android TV box.
Android TV boxes can offer a world of content streaming options, and a VPN can open up even more possibilities by unlocking geo-restricted content.
A VPN like ExpressVPN will not only let you access content securely, it will also allow you to enjoy fast speeds and watch your favorite shows without any buffering, lag or loss of quality.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.