What's the best way to maximize privacy while streaming on an LG smart TV?

I was gifted an LG B3 tv that runs webOS 23; it seems to be a privacy nightmare as far as “smart TVs” go. What is the best way to maximize privacy with it while still being able to access streaming services? It’s still in the box and has not been connected to the internet.

My prior TV was a Samsung from the late 2000s with no internet capabilities that I only ever used with a:

  • Fedora laptop plugged in via HDMI to watch videos from the browser or laptop hard drive
  • My partner’s PS4 with Netflix, Apple TV, etc.

This is my first time having to use anything but a “dumb” TV and most information online seems to assume a high level of prior knowledge with smart tv settings, common streaming devices, etc. I do not know whether installing a specific new OS, getting some kind of streaming device, or something else is the current best option these days. The ability to block ads would be strongly preferred, as is the ability to use a remote or controller rather than having to go to a laptop to change things. If this is too vague, I will answer any questions you have to narrow things down.

Short answer is there are no great options.

  • Apple TV gives you a premiere experience with some semblance of privacy protections.
  • Using a (x86) desktop or laptop naturally affords you much more freedom in software choice, but you’ll still need to enable Wildvine to access most streaming services. The main downside with using a linux computer is remotes aren’t really an option. I’d recommend a wireless mouse and keyboard. Also many streaming services will be limited to 720p due to browsers’ lack of HEVC support.
  • Some Android TV devices can be flashed with community distros like LineageOS. Doing this without installing Google Play will give you a relatively private Android system, but many streaming apps won’t work. Last I tried this, Netflix and HBO worked, but Disney Plus and Hulu didn’t. Also, this shares the 720p limit problem due to lack of HEVC support.

As for ad blocking, DNS based blocking is great because it requires no support from devices. It won’t get rid of all ads though.

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And to add to all this, only android boxes will allow you to Block Youtube Ads + Sponsor Block. This may change with youtube tracking down Adblocks.

Ironically, setting up DNS blocking on tvOS is easier then Android TV from what I had seen.

I am not sure whether it’s related to HEVC/H265 codec support when it comes to FHD streaming services. However, it is definitely due to DRM support.

  • On Android (phones, tablet, TVs), if you unlocked bootloader, which is required to install any aftermarket ROM, you lose Widevine L1 (now, you’re on L3). So, you would be limited from streaming DRM contents above 720p. Moreover, Widevine L3 works with software only (it’s considered to be insecure by streaming services), so there is no hardware acceleration. Some Android devices don’t get Widevine L1 even on stock ROM, usually Chinese brands.

  • On Linux, you get Widevine L3 from within the browsers. So, no FHD DRM contents. Only on ChromeOS where you can stream FHD DRM contents in the browser, since it gets Widevine L1.

  • PlayReady and FairPlay from Microsoft and Apple respectively, gets you to 4K on PC (if supported by the streaming services).

Therefore, when it comes to streaming any DRM content, privacy is kind of a tradeoff thing.

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Here’s how to set up a DNS on Android TV, see here.

It’s not as easy as putting a DNS’s TLS address in the private DNS option on Android.

I was thinking about something like this for secure DNS. But the process you linked is also just an IP on tvOS so a bit easier too.

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Not accurate. I run a custom rom on a xiaomi device and have L1 support and am able to stream full HD content on the likes of Netflix

Apps like RethinkDNS will allow you to easily change DNS, they do however use up the VPN slot while enabled

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Wow, thanks! I didn’t know you can have L1 with bootloader unlocked.

In my experience it depends on the device and ROM. Stock Lineage OS, for example, tends to disable L1