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The best Smart TV VPN 2020

(Image credit: Dmitri Ma/Shutterstock)

If you want expanded viewing on your Smart TV, getting a Smart TV VPN sounds like a no-brainer – you’ll be able to watch region-blocked Netflix shows, and access other exclusive services anywhere in the world. However, thanks to the vast variety of devices out there, it's worth considering what the best VPN for your TV is, and what it can actually do.

Put simply, a VPN reroutes your connection away from your ISP's servers and through its own. You can choose which server to use, in any country, and you'll appear to be located wherever that chosen server is. So, if you're in the UK but want to watch US Netflix, you can do that by selecting a US server.

However, not all Smart TVs support VPNs in the same way. Android TVs are most compatible, but Samsung devices, for example, use the proprietary Tizen OS which doesn’t support VPN connections, and Smart DNS is absolutely necessary. (Briefly, Smart DNS is a tool for changing your location on devices that don't support VPNs.)

How do I choose a Smart TV VPN?

In essence, a great Smart TV VPN needs to be fast, be able to unblock a wide range of streaming services, have router support and, ideally, offer Smart DNS. Our top pick ExpressVPN does this and whole lot more.

If your TV uses Samsung's Tizen or LG's WebOS you should definitely prioritise Smart DNS, because true VPN apps aren't available for these systems. If you use Roku or any other OS that doesn't support VPN or Smart DNS, having a router VPN app will be very useful. Android and Fire TV have access to an app store that holds true VPN apps, so things are more straightforward there.

If you're confident with what you're looking for, below are the best Smart TV VPNs on the market. However, if you want to learn a little more about Smart DNS and other differences between TV operating systems, just head to the bottom of the page and browse our FAQ.

1. ExpressVPN – the best Smart TV VPN available
With powerful true VPN performance on Android, quick and easy Smart DNS features and an excellent router app, ExpressVPN can do it all, no matter what TV you've got. Tom's Guide readers can now claim three months free, and you'll have a 30-day guarantee to trial before you commit.View Deal

2. NordVPN – powerful unblocking and great security
NordVPN is a big deal in the VPN industry, and it's almost a household name at this point. You'll have Android support, access to tons of content, and Smart DNS too. Plus, at just $3.71 a month, it's great value.View Deal

3. Surfshark – a premium service for a bargain price
If you want to save your cash, Surfshark is a great-value option. At just $2.49 a month it's a bargain, but you'll still be able to unblock just about every service with VPN or Smart DNS, and the apps are intuitive enough for absolute newbies.View Deal

The best Smart TV VPNs today

ExpressVPN best Smart TV VPN

1. ExpressVPN

The best Smart TV VPN today

Android TV app?: Yes | Smart DNS?: Yes | Dedicated router app?: Yes | Simultaneous connections: 5 | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Peacock

Will work with any Smart TV
Dedicated apps are super simple
Can unblock just about any streaming site
Excellent security and privacy
A little more expensive

No matter what TV you have – whether it's Roku, Tizen, Android or any other – ExpressVPN can get you restricted content with ease.

For Android TV owners, it couldn't be simpler. The app is much like the one you might install on your mobile device, and gives one-touch functionality alongside great in-depth features. 

However, we understand not everyone has an Android TV, and apart from VPN support, it's not necessarily the best TV OS around. That's why it's so important that ExpressVPN supports Smart DNS. Comprehensive guides on the ExpressVPN site explain how to get the Smart TV VPN up and running with Smart DNS, and while it could seen intimidating, the guides are clear and concise.

What really puts Express head and shoulders above the rest, though, is its dedicated app for routers. Every other VPN in this guide requires manual set up for routers, but ExpressVPN's router app makes it straightforward. This is far easier than using the router's dashboard to install software.

However, just because you're mostly using a VPN on your TV doesn't mean you can't enjoy all the other privileges a VPN can offer. With support for five individual devices, you'll be able to install the VPN on your PC, smartphone, tablet, and Smart TV with one left over. Then, you'll be protected and get access to tons of content – all on one subscription.

Get three months free of the best Smart TV VPN
ExpressVPN is currently offering Tom's Guide readers three free months – that's 15 months for the price of 12. And, in the rare event that it's not for you, you'll also have a 30-day money-back guarantee keeping you safe. Not bad for the best Smart TV VPN.
View Deal

NordVPN best smart tv VPN

(Image credit: NordVPN)

2. NordVPN

Useful Smart TV VPN that's hot on security

Android TV app?: Yes | Smart DNS?: Yes | Dedicated router app?: No | Simultaneous connections: 6 | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Peacock

Great for streaming
Good speeds all round
Excellent privacy features
No dedicated router app

NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN services on the market, and it's not hard to see why. With excellent encryption and security, really usable apps and a pretty tempting price, it's a great option as a Smart TV VPN.

On Android TV, you'll get a powerful app that can get you access to tons of different streaming services, including Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu and tons more. the same goes for Fire TV, too. 

If you need to set up Smart DNS you're also in luck, as Nord has excellent instructions on the site that should guide you with ease through the set up. If not, you'll have the 24/7 live chat at your disposal, too. 

However, NordVPN does not provide a dedicated router app to aid its installation. While it's perfectly possible to install a VPN on a router without an app from the provider, there are some risks involved, and a pre-made app certainly helps less confident users complete a task that can seem intimidating. That said, once installed, Nord functions perfectly on a router.

So, if you're looking for a Smart TV VPN on your Android device, or even one that supports Smart DNS, NordVPN is a great alternative. But, be forewarned that router setup isn't as easy as with Express.

Head over to the NordVPN website to sign up

Surfshark best smart tv VPN

3. Surfshark

Excellent value plus top streaming performance

Android TV app?: Yes | Smart DNS?: Yes | Dedicated router app?: No | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Peacock

Great value
Excellent content unblocking
Unlimited connections
Apps are simpler than competitors'

If you want to save a bit of cash but still get a great Smart TV VPN, Surfshark could be your best bet. While it's priced to sell, don't be fooled into thinking you're getting a substandard product.

With full Android TV support plus Smart DNS, it can get you watching whatever you want on a huge range of devices. Plus, with its unlimited connections policy you'll be able to use it on as many TVs, phones and PCs as you want – you can even share it with others in your household.

Just like NordVPN, though, while Surfshark works great on routers once installed, it can be a little troublesome to get working. If you're up to the challenge it's not an absolute deal breaker, but do be aware what you're getting yourself into. 

However, for just $2.49 a month we can't fault Surfshark's performance, and it should definitely be on your radar if you're on a budget.

Head over to the Surfshark website to sign up

Cyberghost best Smart TV VPN

4. CyberGhost

Great streaming features

Android TV app?: Yes | Smart DNS?: Yes | Dedicated router app?: No | Simultaneous connections: 7 | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Peacock

Over 7,000 servers
Really useful server filtering system
Excellent value
Interface can be troublesome 

CyberGhost is a hugely popular VPN, and is especially popular with people who want to unblock restricted content. That's in part thanks to its excellent unblocking performance, but also because of its innovative server filtering system.

For example, if you wanted to watch US Netflix and you're in the UK, you can filter your options and pick a suggested server in the US that's great for Netflix. While some services just seem to work (ExpressVPN being an obvious example), this takes out any guesswork and makes it incredibly quick and easy to get a server that's right for what you want to do.

If we're honest, though, that's the only standout area of CyberGhost's product. It works great, supports Smart DNS and routers, and is useful for streaming and torrenting, but overall there are more well-rounded services out there.

However, a recent price drop has seen CyberGhost undercut even Surfshark, and at just $2.25 a month it's one of the best cheap VPN services on the market.

Head over to the CyberGhost website to sign up

ipvanish best smart tv vpn

(Image credit: Future)

5. IPVanish

Good performance – but no Smart DNS

Android TV app?: Yes | Smart DNS?: No | Dedicated router app?: No | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Peacock

Great speeds
Unique, functional apps
Unlimited connections
No Smart DNS
Struggles with iPlayer

US-based IPVanish rounds off this guide in style. If you're looking for a swift Smart TV VPN that has tons of configuration, it's a great choice – but only if you've got an Android TV or Fire TV.

As one of our Fire Stick VPN picks, it's clear that IPVanish can deliver the goods when it supports a device. However, for anyone without an Android-based OS, it simply won't work, unless you fancy installing it on a router. Without Smart DNS, you won't be able to use it natively on Samsung or LG TVs, and many others besides. 

However, if you've got an Android TV, or you're happy to install IPVanish on your router, it's a great choice at a great price.

Sign up now on the IPVanish website

Smart TV VPN FAQs

What's the best Smart TV VPN?

ExpressVPN is the best Smart TV VPN, and it's by a good margin, too. Firstly you'll get excellent VPN performance on devices that support it, but the MediaStreamer Smart DNS is a godsend for those who have Samsung or LG TVs. Router support is also easier than usual thanks to a dedicated app, which means ExpressVPN is great whether you have an Android or Fire TV, a Samsung, LG, Sony, or any other brand or operating system.

What differences are there between Smart TV operating systems?

If you’re using an Android TV or Fire TV, things are simplest, and your main consideration will be what the VPN can unblock. This is because a you'll be able to install a true VPN on your TV, and you'll also have access to an app store that stocks them.

However, for Samsung's Tizen and LG's WebOS, you’ll need a service that supports Smart DNS. While this doesn’t give you the encryption and privacy of a true VPN, you’ll be able to switch your location to just about anywhere and access blocked content.

For Roku and lesser-known TV systems that don’t support VPNs or Smart DNS, your only option is to install a VPN on your router. While this can be more complex, it does give you absolute protection on any device connected to your Wi-Fi, and is also the only way to encrypt your traffic on anything other than Android or Fire – plus, some VPNs offer dedicated router apps to make it much easier to set up.

What is Smart DNS?

Smart DNS is a way of spoofing your location when you either don't want to, or simply can't use a VPN connection. The most common reason to do so is to unblock streaming services on Smart TVs. 

Rather than how a VPN directs all of your traffic through a different server, Smart DNS only diverts your DNS (Domain Name Server) information. While this does not protect your privacy because your traffic is not encrypted, it's enough to fool streaming services. 

Another bonus is the fact that it slows your connection far less than a VPN. While we'd say most of our picks here are fast VPN services, Smart DNS is even quicker.

Why do I need a Smart TV VPN?

Wherever you are in the world, there will be a huge amount of content online that you won't be able to access. That could be iPlayer in US, Hulu in the UK, any number of regional Netflix libraries and tons more regional services.

With a Smart TV VPN, you can relocate yourself and access any and everything you want to watch.