It is not always possible to install VPN software directly onto a Smart TV. However, if your Smart TV can access the Google Play Store (Android Smart TVs can) you can install the VPN app (for your provider) directly onto your smart TV. This is the best way to connect your smart TV, so use this method if you can. Please remember that not every Smart TV can do this, so you will need to check with your manufacturer.
If your SmartTV is an Android TV you will be able to follow these simple steps:
- Select a VPN for Smart TV. We recommend ExpressVPN because it has everything you need to stream more content in HD. It also sells a pre-flashed router (more on this later).
- Click through to your favorite VPN from our best 5 VPNs for Smart TV article and subscribe.
- Download the software and install the Android client (.APK file) onto your Android smart TV.
- Log in using your credentials from when you subscribed.
- Run the app on your Smart TV and connect to a server.
That is it: you are now pretending to be in a different country and can access content from that region! Your privacy is also protected on your Android TV thanks to the VPN's encryption. For more information on VPN please check out our beginners guide here.
Connecting Via a PC or Laptop
Most Smart TV owners choose to connect their TV to their computer via an ethernet cable. This allows them to share their PC's internet connection (more on this later). This is an effective way of using a VPN to unblock restricted content on a Smart TV. Any Smart TV that does not allow Apps to be installed directly will need to use this method (or a VPN router).
Sharing a VPN Connection in Windows
- Make sure your computer is connected to your VPN service. If you haven't subscribed to a VPN yet, - check out our 5 best VPNs for Smart TV article. We recommend ExpressVPN because it has everything you need to stream more content in HD on a smart TV.
- Connect your SmartTV to the PC using an Ethernet cable
- Open the Network and Sharing Centre on the PC (Start > Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center) and click ‘Change adapter settings.'
- Find your VPN connection. OpenVPN connections usually aren’t clearly labeled, so look for one with the description ‘TAP-Win32 Adaptor V9′ (or similar). Right-click on it and select ‘Properties’ from the drop-down.
- Select the ‘Sharing’ tab and check the ‘Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection’ box. Then, from the drop-down menu choose ’Local Area Connection’ (if you have multiple Ethernet ports on your computer, then make sure you select the one you have connected your SmartTV to), then click ‘Ok’
- Restart your SmartTV and computer and it should be working correctly.
Sharing a VPN Connection in OSX (PPTP or L2TP)
Sharing your connection on OSX is a bit more complicated if you wish to set up OpenVPN but this TunnelBlick tutorial will show you how. We will show you how to set it up using PPTP or L2TP and the built-in VPN client.
- Sign up for a VPN service and set it up according to the provider’s instructions. We recommend ExpressVPN because it has everything you need to stream more content in HD on a smart TV.
- With the SmartTV switched off, connect it to a USB port on your Mac using the Ethernet cable and adapter
- In OSX open System Preferences (Apple icon at top right of the screen -> System Preferences) and click on ‘Sharing’
- a) Pull down the ‘Sharing your connection from’ menu and select your VPN connection. b) In the ‘To computers using’ box, check ‘USB Ethernet’. c) Check ‘Internet Sharing’, and a pop-up box will appear. Click ‘Start,’ and (d) ‘Internet Sharing: On’ will show green to let you know that everything is working ok.
- Reboot your SmartTV.
VPN Router Method
Some people prefer to use a VPN that is installed on a flashed router. This means that all the devices in their home - including their Smart TV - are assisted by the VPN connection. This is an extremely easy method of connecting a Smart TV to a VPN service (and all the other devices in your home).
While it is true that you can flash a router yourself (if it compatible), this is usually only undertaken by people who are pretty techy. This is because flashing a router with DD-WRT firmware (or any other third party router firmware) can "brick" the device (lock it up making it unusable).
If you have a low level of technical know-how flashing your router probably isn’t for you. Luckily there are companies out there that offer prepaid and pre-flashed routers, which allow a simple plug-and-play setup – Flashrouters is a great example.
Some VPN services (ExpressVPN, for example, sell pre-flashed routers themselves).
Most VPNs can be purchased pre-flashed onto a router at the third party vendor Flashrouters. There are two main types of flashed routers: DD-WRT and Tomato. DD-WRT is the most popular option because it is the most customizable type of flashed router. Please click on the links to get more detailed information on these types of routers.
The advantage of using a flashed router is that it automatically uses the VPN service no matter what device you connect to your WiFi network. It can also help with reducing the number of network cables you use, and make it so that you don’t have to play around with your computer network settings. It also doesn’t matter if your computer isn’t close to your SmartTV.
Be sure to check out our DD-WRT article if you intend to purchase a router from FlashRouters - because we have a special discount deal agreed with them at the moment (if you click through from our link in that article).
A closer look at router firmware
The main two recommended software options that can be used for flashing are DD-WRT and Tomato. If you do wish to do it yourself the following links below will guide you:
- DD-WRT – a full list of compatible routers can be found here, information about installing and configuring DD-WRT can be found here, and click these links for guides about setting up PPTP and OpenVPN. Plus, lots more general information on using DD-WRT can be found here.
- Tomato – a full list of compatible routers can be found here, information on installing and configuring Tomato can be found here, and a guide to setting up OpenVPN can be found here.
One significant advantage of using a flashed router is that all your internet-connected devices (including games consoles, mobile phones, and of course, your SmartTV) will benefit from being connected to VPN when they connect through the router.
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