Safely and securely stream your favorite shows and movies with these devices.
Updated Oct. 28, 2023 4:00 a.m. PT
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
Reviews ethics statement
Zachary McAuliffeStaff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
ExpertiseWeb hosting, operating systems, applications and softwareCredentials
Apple software beta tester, "Helps make our computers and phones work!" - Zach's grandparents
If you want to keep your TV viewing habits private, using a virtual private network to stream content on your big screen is a good choice. Using a VPN on your standard or smart TV may sound complicated, but it isn't. To help streamline the process, there are a handful of devices that can make using a VPN with your television set as simple as using your go-to mobile app.
Aside from keeping your viewing information private, using a VPN on your TV can broaden the types of content you can stream. Instead of running into shows and movies that are blocked due to the region you live in, a virtual private network can give you access to more streaming content from different parts of the world.
We've picked five easy to use devices that will let you stream your favorite shows while using a VPN. And if you aren't sure which VPN is the right option for you, check out our picks for the best VPNs.
Amazon Fire TV Sticks can be as cheap as $30, are easy to set up on your TV, and are one of the simplest ways to stream TV with a third-party VPN app.
Once you've plugged your Fire Stick in to your TV and followed the on-screen setup, you can download apps for some of CNET's best VPNs for Fire Sticks, like Surfshark, NordVPN and ExpressVPN. If you don't subscribe to any of those VPN services, no worries. Each offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try each one risk-free until you find the right one for you.
Here's how to download a VPN app onto your Fire Stick.
1. Open your Fire Stick on your TV. 2. Open the Amazon Appstoreapp. 3. Open Search. 4. Type in the name of the VPN you want to download. 5. Click Get.
After you've downloaded a VPN app onto your Fire Stick, go back to your home screen to open the app and log in to your account. Then, you can connect to a VPN server in the country or region where you want to unlock specific content, or you can connect to a local VPN server for better private streaming speeds. After connecting to a VPN server, you're all set to securely watch shows and movies in privacy.
Amazon Fire TVs come built-in with all the same capabilities of a Fire Stick, meaning you get all the same features without having to use a precious HDMI slot. Even the Fire TV's interface is the same as the Fire Stick. To use a VPN through a Fire TV, follow the same steps as above to download a third-party VPN app, log in to your account, connect to the VPN server you want to use and start streaming TV.
However, Fire TVs can cost between $370 and $1,100. So buying a Fire TV to stream shows and movies through a VPN is like buying a new car because you want a new paint job. If your TV works and it can use a Fire Stick, save yourself the money and buy a Fire Stick. But if you're in the market for a new TV, and you want to use a VPN to stream content, consider a Fire TV to upgrade your streaming experience.
Chromecast with Google TV, like the Fire Stick, is another easy to use device that lets you stream TV through a third-party VPN app for around $40.
After you've plugged your Chromecast with Google TV in to your TV and followed the setup instructions, you can download most VPN apps, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, onto your device. If you don't have a subscription to a VPN service, most offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try them out risk-free until you find one you're happy with.
Here's how to download most third-party VPN apps onto your Chromecast with Google TV.
1. On your Chromecast device, go to the Apps tab. 2. Select Search for app under App categories. 3. Type in the name of the VPN app you want to download. 4. Select Install.
After installing your VPN app, open it from your Chromecast with Google TV's home screen and log in to your account. Then, connect to a VPN server in the country or region you want to unlock content from. You can also connect to a local VPN server for better private streaming speeds. After that, you're set to securely watch shows and movies.
ExpressVPN's Aircove router costs less than $200, and it allows you to run all your internet traffic through a VPN, not just your TV. The router has built-in VPN protection, a range of 1,600 square feet, and it allows unlimited simultaneous connections. These unlimited connections can be organized in up to five different groups, too, so if you live with four other people, each person in your house can be connected to a different server location at the same time.
However, you need an ExpressVPN account to use the router's VPN capabilities. That means you'll have to switch to ExpressVPN if you have an account with another VPN service. You'll also need to use your laptop or smartphone to set up your router. That makes setup on the Aircove slightly more complicated than Fire Stick and Fire TV, which you can simply plug in and follow the on-screen instructions.
But once you've finished the Aircove's initial setup, you've thrown a blanket of protection over all the internet traffic that runs through the router, which makes it a good option for people looking to run other devices at home through a VPN.
To download a third-party VPN app to your Apple TV, you have to first update your device to TVOS 17. Then, go to the TVOS App Store on your TV, search for your VPN and download it. After downloading, open the app and log in to your account, and you'll be able to connect to VPNs in certain countries or regions from within the app. You should also see a new VPN tab in the Apple TV control center which allows you to quickly connect and disconnect from your VPN.
However, not all VPN services have apps available for Apple TV at this time. ExpressVPN, for example, doesn't have a TVOS app yet, but said on Reddit that it was working to bring an app to tvOS. So if you don't see your app available, your provider might still be working on a compatible app.