Modern TV is a multifunctional device. In addition to the ability to view terrestrial and satellite channels, many modern models are equipped with a SMART TV function and Internet access. In addition to the basic functions, the TV expands the USB ports. Today they are present in almost all models. Why can a TV use a USB port, and what are the nuances in using it? We will tell in this article.
What can be connected to the TV via USB
You can connect any drives that have a USB connector to the TV. This category includes flash drives, SSDs and external hard drives – both 2.5 format, powered by a USB connector, and larger 3.5 format, working with a network adapter or through a special docking station.
The standard features that all TVs have include playing video and music from the drive, as well as viewing photos. Some models also allow you to open e-books. If you have a SMART TV, depending on the operating system you are using, other options may be available, such as managing files on the drive or recording live TV programs to it.
What files are read from the connected drive
The list of all the formats that modern TVs can play is huge. In fact, TVs read most video and audio formats, except perhaps the most exotic ones. However, not every model has wide support for all formats. For example, TVs manufactured more than five years ago will most likely not be able to play video encoded with the H.265 codec. And another example – new Samsung models released since 2018 cannot play movies with old DivX/Xvid codecs. So when buying, be sure to look at the formats offered by the manufacturer in the characteristics.
That is, something is added, and something is removed – and so individually for different manufacturers and different models. The list of supported formats for each model is different, and is usually published by the manufacturer on the product page or in its documentation.
The most versatile solution is video encoded with the H.264 codec. Such films and videos can be viewed on almost any TV released over the past decade.
Why the TV does not see the drive
Often there is a problem – the TV does not see the external drive. There may be several reasons for this:
● The drive is formatted with a file system not supported by the TV
You need to clarify which file systems your TV model supports and format the drive for it. More on this below.
● An external hard drive or SSD “hangs” on a wire and pulls the connection cable with its own weight
Because of this, normal contact between the drive plug and the USB connector on the TV is not ensured. To resolve this issue, place the drive on a hard, level surface before connecting. If in this position the native connection cable does not reach the port, use a USB extension cable.
The problem does not affect flash drives and SSDs, only external hard drives without additional power. Modern models of such USB 3.0 drives may require current up to 900 mA to operate. The USB connector on the TV can provide a certain amount of current, and for the drive to work correctly, it must be at least this value.
Older TVs that supply less than 500 mA of current to the connector may have problems with some external hard drives. But even in this case, there is a way out – to use a hard drive
External drives typically use one of three file systems – FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT. Not all TV models work implicitly with each of them. Many support only one pair, and older models are often limited to supporting only one FAT32.
If the TV does not see the drive, but everything is in order with the connection, you need to check the type of file system and change it if necessary. This is done by formatting the drive. Please note that after formatting, all your data will be deleted, so first take care of saving them on a computer or other drive.
● FAT32 is the most common file system supported by the TV. But it is not suitable for widespread use, as it has a maximum file size limit of 4 GB. That is, you cannot write files larger than this size to the drive. Suitable for small files – non-HD movies, clips, videos. If the TV does not support other file systems, and you need to play a high-resolution movie from the drive, you will have to use video converter programs to reduce the original file to 4 GB.
● NTFS is a file system supported by most modern (and not so) TV models. Used by default for external hard drives in the Windows family of operating systems. Therefore, if your TV has NTFS support, then an external hard drive pre-filled with files on your computer will not have to be reformatted.
● exFAT is another file system designed specifically for external drives. exFAT, like NTFS, has no visible file size limits. But it is not supported on every TV model. If your TV does not support NTFS, and FAT32 is too small for your files, then it makes sense to use exFAT. Just before that, make sure that your TV model has its support.
In the case of using FAT32, the user may encounter some other limitations – Windows OS, using built-in tools, does not allow formatting drives larger than 32 GB into this file system. But there is a way out – the use of third-party utilities. One such program is Rufus. With it, you can format any drives in FAT32. To do this, it is enough to specify “non-bootable image” and “Large FAT32” in the formatting settings.
Despite the fact that video viewing today is increasingly moving online, the ability to play from local media still remains in demand. Old films, rare films, your own video archive – all this may require a local drive connected via a USB port.
In addition, not all models are equipped with SMART TV. Due to the variety of types and volumes of different drives, each user can adapt for use on TV exactly the device that is most convenient for him to use – a flash drive, an external hard drive or an SSD.