Not everyone has a stable Wi-Fi connection at home, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t use their smart TV. Several functions will still work on smart TVs even when the devices aren’t connected to the internet. Even though you can still watch local and cable channels, there are times when you wish you could take advantage of the other features that come with a smart TV, which brings us to the question of whether you can connect a Smart TV to a hot spot?
You can connect your Smart TV to your mobile phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot. You can also use dedicated hotspot hardware to connect the TV to a network. With that said, there are a few reasons why you wouldn’t want to do this, like high data usage.
You can connect your smart TV to a personal or dedicated hotspot, and it only takes a few steps. However, there are often limitations and the possibility of additional charges. And if there’s anything the average cellular phone user doesn’t like, it’s additional and unexpected charges on their phone bill every month!
Using a Smart TV with a Personal Hotspot
Connecting your smart TV to a personal hotspot, whether it’s your mobile phone or a dedicated device, is a simple process. A hotspot device like the Nighthawk from NETGEAR (on Amazon) throws up a Wi-Fi network that the TV can access.
When you want to connect the smart TV to the hotspot, you’ll start by turning on both devices. It helps to check the name of the hotspot and password before trying to connect the smart TV.
When you know the name of the hotspot and password, you’ll click on “network” under “settings” on the smart TV. Since the hotspot is turned on, you’ll see it listed under “available Wi-Fi networks”. Select the hotspot and then “connect”.
A password prompt will appear, and from there the smart TV is connected to the hotspot’s network. You can access all of the available streaming content and other features that come with internet access, in fact, this is the primary difference between a smart and regular TV which we’ve discussed elsewhere.
Limitations of Using a Smart TV with Hotspot
Even though you can use a smart TV with a hotspot, it’s not recommended as a permanent solution for a couple of different reasons. There are limitations to using a mobile hotspot that will affect your viewing experience. For example, data transfer rates might be faster with a mobile hotspot.
Download speeds for mobile devices are between 5-12 Mbps and upload speeds are 2-5 Mbps. Home network speeds have a greater variance that depends on the provider and the number of connected devices.
More devices result in slower data transfer rates. You might get a faster data transfer rate with a mobile hotspot if you’re the only device connected to it.
Videos can stop and stutter if your phone is performing another function – one reason why it’s important to reboot it sometimes as we’ve alluded to before. You’ll also notice problems with slower speeds when the battery starts to run low. There’s also the problem of bandwidth.
Mobile hotspots don’t always come with the bandwidth necessary to perform multiple tasks or stream extremely data-rich content. For instance, while we’ve explored adding a mobile hotspot to your car before, cruising down the highway at 60mph or more is probably going to subject you to some connection issues.
Potential Extra Charges
While your phone will work as a mobile hotspot for your smart TV, it’s not the best idea. It’s not designed to act as a permanent hotspot, even if you have an unlimited data plan. If your data plan has a set limit, over-usages are expensive. Most phone carriers do have unlimited data plans (our guide) but there are still restrictions.
You’re not charged for data usage but down/upload speeds are often slower when you’re over the limit. You can also run into these issues with a dedicated mobile hotspot.
You can get around some of these issues if you have the right unlimited data plan. It will mean paying extra to avoid potential network slowdowns when you go over the standard data usage limits.
Using a Dedicated Hotspot for a Smart TV
A dedicated mobile hotspot with an unlimited data plan can keep content streaming smoothly regardless of how much data is used. It is often less expensive than paying for internet service from a cable or Wi-Fi provider, but it also can come with limitations. Some unlimited data plans come with decreased resolution.
What this means is that streaming content will be very smooth, without interruptions, but the colors and details could be faded and muted which is a compromise you may not be willing to make.
Other hotspots aren’t compatible with all smart TVs. If you get one that’s not compatible, the TV won’t recognize the Wi-Fi signal.
You can use a mobile hotspot with a smart TV, like this one from Samsung (on Amazon), for example. You can stream content from Netflix, Prime, and other subscribed services. However, there is a difference when it comes to which mobile hotspot to use.
Your phone is great in emergencies, especially if you have an unlimited data plan, but it’s not designed for long-term use which will become apparent through issues like resolution and speed.
A dedicated mobile hotspot is a better option because you can get an uninterrupted signal and it’s more cost-efficient. You do want to ensure that the hotspot is compatible with the smart TV, and the data plan fits your needs.
Even though a stable Wi-Fi network is best, a dedicated mobile hotspot will work almost as well.