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Can You Use A Smart TV Without WiFi?

Does a smart TV need WiFi? While about one-third of homes have a smart TV, not everyone has access to WiFi that is high-speed and stable. So, what can your smart TV do without WiFi?

You can use a smart TV without WiFi but it’s harder to access the content you want, especially from streaming applications that won’t work without a connection. Many smart TVs work with antennas for local broadcasts that don’t use WiFi, and you can also mirror from your phone to the TV.

In this article, we will cover if and how you can use your smart TV without an Internet connection. In case you’ve already skimmed our guide on how to add Wi-Fi to a non-smart TV, be aware that this article can apply to non-smart TVs too if you’ve taken steps to make them smart.

Key Takeaways: Will A Smart TV Work Without Internet Connection?

  • Smart TVs still work without Wifi. However, without the internet, you won’t be able to use its smart Internet-based features like streaming services, online apps, and software updates.
  • You can still watch TV channels through an antenna (be sure to check our related guide on how to get local channels without an antenna), cable, or satellite and play media from connected devices like Blu-ray players or game consoles.
  • To mirror your phone to a TV without internet, connect the phone to the TV using an HDMI cable, ensuring that both devices support screen mirroring, so you can still enjoy content on Roku, Samsung, or any other smart TV if it has an internet connection.
  • You can use your phone’s Wireless Hotspot feature to connect your TV to that WiFi network, but it will use a log of your plan’s data.

How To Use A Smart TV Without Internet?

TV and Entertainment Center

Even without Wi-Fi, a smart TV remains valuable with its superior picture quality compared to basic TVs and has numerous ports for connecting a variety of external devices. Though your options in this case are limited, we will make sure you get the optimal use of your smart TV that has no Internet connection. (Source)

Stream Content

Even though you can’t download streaming apps without Wi-Fi, it doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with only local television stations. Take a look at the devices you have connected to the TV, you probably can still stream limited content.

With a connected DVD player, you can watch the latest movies on discs. It also applies to Blu-ray players and gaming consoles. If you’ve got a DVD player laying around, have a look at our guide on how to connect a DVD player to a Smart TV here.

You can also use a wireless hotspot to connect the TV to the internet, but you want to watch out for data usage charges.

PlayOn TV

PlayOn TV is a convenient service that lets you watch Netflix and other streaming content without an internet connection. Select the show or movie you want to watch with your Wi-Fi connected mobile device, or download content ahead of time before you have an internet outage.

How to Mirror a Phone to a Smart TV

If you don’t have a home internet connection but still want to stream content to your smart TV, you can use your mobile phone. It does require that both devices are compatible, along with an HDMI cable (more on HDMI in our guide).

First, it’s essential to see if your phone and TV both have settings that allow the two devices to sync. If your smart TV doesn’t support this feature, you are often limited to local stations and DVDs.

Not all Android phones allow you to mirror cast so check your devices first. If the television does recognize your phone’s internet signal, connect the HDMI cable to both devices.

You will have a cord extending across the room from your handheld device to the smart TV, (and if it’s not long enough, we have a guide on how to extend it) but you can watch the mirrored content. It’s not an ideal solution, but it will work as long as both devices support the function.

And note that, if you’re trying to do something especially complicated like casting VR content, you’re probably going to run into issues without a stable internet connection. You can try screen-mirroring some content, but complex situations won’t work well without the good old-fashioned internet connection supporting it.

Other Options: Gaming Consoles, Wireless Hotspot

There are several methods you could use to watch content on your smart TV without Wi-Fi access. Beyond using an antenna and screen-mirroring, consider the other options you may have:

  • Your smart TV comes with several HDMI ports so you can connect disc players, gaming consoles, and cable boxes. You don’t need Wi-Fi to watch cable channels, and while some games require “live” connections for DRM checks, many games also allow offline play.

  • You can also resort to using your phone as a mobile hotspot. However, if you don’t end up with data over-usage fees the network may slow down resulting in streaming interruptions. Have a look at this article on how to understand the amount of data your mobile hotspot will use in this case.

Smart TV Features That Won’t Work Without Wi-Fi

Smart TV with different apps on screen

Downloading Apps and Streaming Content

One of the advantages of owning a smart TV is the ability to access the internet and all of the streaming content that’s available online. If you want to watch a show on Disney+, Hulu, or YouTube TV, internet access is a must.

Even if you plan to purchase a product from an online streaming provider like Fire Stick or Roku, an internet connection is still needed to download the apps.

If you don’t have Wi-Fi, buying a smart TV can seem like a waste of money for a couple of reasons, although, if used correctly it doesn’t have to be the case. It isn’t necessarily true that a Smart TV without WiFi is useless.

Receiving Firmware Updates

A smart TV is similar in many ways to your laptop or PC. It has firmware, which provides access to apps and other digital content. It requires periodic updates to avoid potential issues.

With a Wi-Fi connection, these updates are usually installed automatically. Without one, you won’t receive the updates but it doesn’t mean the television won’t work. Most of these updates are ones that improve the user experience on streaming content.

Account Set-Up

Not every smart TV requires you to set up an account but it is becoming more common. Without an internet connection, you might find it difficult to complete some of the setup steps.

Some TVs have a software update ready to be installed once the account is created, and without an internet connection, you can’t complete this step. Chances are you can still use a few functions without setting up your account, but there are often performance issues.

Smart TV = A Smart Choice? (Pros & Cons)

Considering the rising popularity of smart TVs, it might seem like a wise choice to own one. However, to make an informed decision, it’s important to review the table below, which outlines the benefits and disadvantages of having a smart TV.

Access to numerous streaming channels.Dependence on internet connection for streaming and updates.
Enhanced image quality for a better viewing experience.Increased costs for additional streaming subscriptions or services.
Multiple HDMI ports for connecting various devices.Potential risk of quickly becoming outdated due to technology changes.
Speech recognition & voice control for ease of use.Higher cost compared to standard TVs.
Pros And Cons Of A Smart TV