There’s no way around it – going without the internet sucks.
With the internet becoming so integrated into our lives and something we expect to always be available, it can really be frustrating when we’re forced to go without it. And for certain devices, it may seem like not having any Wi-Fi connection renders them completely useless.
Thankfully however, there is still a lot you can do with a Smart TV, even if you normally use it while connected to the internet.
In this article, we’ll cover everything that you need to know!
Can You Use Smart TVs Without A Wi-Fi Connection?
Yes. Although you won’t be able to use services that require the internet (such as most streaming services), you can still use other functionalities of your Smart TV even without internet.
This includes utilizing your regular cable or satellite TV service, as well as using external devices such as DVD or Blu-Ray players.
However, there are also workarounds to utilize even more features that most people aren’t aware of, such as streaming content from your computers or downloading movies from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc. beforehand, so you can still watch them even while offline.
Let’s look at some of the things you can still do on your Smart TV, even without Wi-Fi!
1. As A Regular TV
Even without utilizing the internet at all, you will still be able to use the cable or satellite TV service that you pay for monthly.
This was around before smart TVs even existed, and is still done the same way as it always has.
Because these services do not operate through the internet, they are unaffected if you internet goes out, or you don’t have internet service at all.
Therefore, it’s good to have regular cable service as a backup if your internet connection is unstable, or you regularly find yourself hitting your ISP’s data caps.
Switching to your normal television service can usually be done by clicking the ‘Input’ or ‘Source’ button your remote.
Many streaming services also support downloading of content, so it may also be a good idea to download a few of your favorite movies when you have stable internet again.
2. Using External Devices
Many people have chosen to cut the cord, and no longer pay for traditional cable service that was so popular in years past. But does this leave you without any options when your internet is down? Thankfully not!
If you own a DVD or Blu-Ray player (or any other local, offline device that can play content), you will still be able to use it even without internet.
Many movie enthusiasts still purchase a Blu-Ray player even if they have a fast internet connection, because Blu-Rays are even higher quality than what is usually available on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Disney+.
This is because streaming services compress the files in order to make them quicker to download. Visual and audio fidelity is given up in order to make sure that the content can be viewed without freezing or stopping to buffer.
So if you have a home theater, it’s worth owning a Blu-Ray player anyway!
Despite that, it’s good to have a few of your favorite movies on Blu-Ray or DVD to watch when your internet is out, while you wait for service to be restored. This is especially true if you use a WISP or other unstable internet provider for your service.
Note: We are specifically talking about devices that don’t require internet to function. Devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast and Apple TV still require internet in order to use streaming services. Therefore, streaming services still will not work unless the content has been downloaded prior to losing internet access.
3. Streaming Local Media
If your Smart TV has a USB port, it is possible to stream the photos and videos located on the USB stick (or external hard drive) without needing an internet connection.
In fact, this is commonly done for people in rural areas, whose internet isn’t fast enough to stream from services like Netflix or Hulu.
The idea here is you find a service that allows you to legally download the movies or shows onto your device. You then travel to an area with a much faster internet connection, and download the content in bulk.
Then, you watch the movies and shows you watch locally off of your USB stick without needing to use your slower internet. This will allow it to play without buffering, skipping or freezing.
Another option to have for streaming locally is if you use Plex. Many people don’t know this, but Plex actually can work offline, as long as you set up the settings correctly.
However, this will still require you to have both the device hosting the content as well as your Smart TV to be on a local LAN network, using an ethernet cable.
If you have a lot of content stored on a computer or NAS device, using Plex for organization and easy access to content is much more convenient then using a USB stick.
Finally, if you utilize an Apple TV with your smartphone, you may be able to continue using your iPhone or iPad’s Airplay function if Wi-Fi is disconnected.
Alternatively, you can hook up your iOS device to your television using a lighting-to-HDMI connector, though this won’t have the wireless functionality that most people are used to when using Airplay. Instead, the phone will disconnect as soon as you unplug it from the cord.
Therefore, it is most convenient to utilize Airplay with an Apple TV, at least when your device is offline.
Utilizing Airplay requires both an Apple TV and an iOS device that was made in 2012 or later. If either device is older than this, unfortunately it will not be supported.
To utilize Airplay with an Apple TV while Wi-Fi isn’t available, the two devices will connect through Bluetooth instead. Therefore, Bluetooth should be enabled on your iPhone or iPad.
Then, all you have to do is choose the ‘Screen Mirroring’ function, just like you would when connecting via Airplay normally.
Does Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ Etc. Require Internet?
Yes. Typically, streaming services require internet connection in order to function. A few of the most popular include:
- Amazon Prime Video
- Paramount Plus
- HBO Max
This is because the content isn’t actually stored on your device. Instead, it is downloaded when you go to watch it using your internet connection. This is how you’re able to view so many different movies and TV shows, even without a lot of storage on your device.
However, what many people don’t know is that some services allow you to download content in advance. This allows you to continue using their service, even if you go without internet!
Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video are a few notable examples. However, some of these services have restrictions.
For example, Amazon Prime Video allows downloads, but only on their mobile apps. Additionally, many services only allow you to download a certain number of movies, and only for a certain period of time.
Others, such as Disney+ do allow you to download to your Smart TV, but you must reconnect to the internet at least once every 30 days. Additionally, you can only download content on up to 10 devices at once. This restriction was likely put in place to combat account sharing.
So, if you know that you’ll be without internet for a while, downloading content in advance can be a great way to stay entertained, without needing to shell out extra money for the DVDs or Blu-Rays.
Thankfully, it is still possible to use your Smart TV, even if your internet goes out or you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection.
However, the exact things you will be able to do are limited.
While you can no longer use streaming services that require an internet connection, you can still use your TV with regular cable / satellite TV, as well as local offline devices such as DVD or Blu-Ray players.
I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any questions about Smart TVs, please ask them using the comment form below.
Wishing you the best,
– James McAllister