In recent years, smart TVs and aftermarket set-top boxes are being shipped with a useful feature called “PVR Recording.” By enabling it, you can connect an external hard drive to your smart TV or set-top box and continuously record live programs, as well as pause and rewind while you are watching live TV channels. The feature is quite versatile, which is why USB HDD for TV sells like hotcakes nowadays.
On LG Smart TVs (select models), the recording feature is branded as Time Machine II. If you have a Samsung Smart TV, then look for the Timeshift feature.
Other TV manufacturers like Sony also include the USB HDD TV recording feature in certain regions. As long as your TV has a dedicated USB port specially labeled for HDD recording, there shouldn’t be any compatibility issues.
However, you will need a fast and reliable external hard drive for continuous recording, with decent read/write speeds and guaranteed prolonged usage.
You can check out our top picks for the best external hard drives for TV recording below.
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Best External Hard Drives for TV Recording (Samsung, Sony, LG, etc)
Aside from using an external hard drive for PVR on your TV, you can also use it to back up your important files on Windows and Mac devices, or extend the storage space on your game console.
You can use an external hard drive in several ways, which is why we have listed only the best HDDs below.
It’s worth mentioning that most TVs support external hard drives with a max capacity of 2TB, so make sure that you confirm the fact before buying a high-capacity USB HDD for your TV.
1. WD 1TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive
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If you are looking for the best USB hard drive for tv then you should definitely check out WD 1 TB Elements Portable hard drive. The WD 1TB Elements external hard drive is one of WD’s best-selling products, and it currently is Amazon’s Choice for external hard drives.
It is available in other storage variants as well, which goes up to 5TB, retaining the same compact and portable form factor. The internal drive speed maxes out at 5,400 RPM.
This external hard drive supports USB 3.0 connectivity, providing faster data transfer speeds than its predecessors. However, you can also connect it to a USB 2.0 port, as it’s backward compatible with the older USB interface.
The WD Elements external HDD also has a slick black plastic casing, with an LED indicator on top. The 1TB variant weighs only 130 grams, whereas the 2TB variant weighs almost 235 grams.
It still is quite stealthy and compact enough to be left behind your TV or soundbar.
2. Seagate Portable 1TB External Hard Drive (STGX1000400)
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Seagate is another American storage solution company trusted for its consumer and enterprise-level high-density hard disk and solid-state drives.
The 1TB Seagate Portable external hard drive is a decent choice for TV recording, alongside storage expansions and file backups.
It’s a plug-and-play solution for all USB-compatible devices. It has an internal drive speed of 5400 RPM, and the max variant of the Seagate Portable external HDD is 6TB. The drive supports USB 3.0, which can transfer data at up to 625 MB/s.
While only SSDs can achieve such speeds, it leaves the external HDD with plenty of bandwidth to work with. It also works with USB 2.0 in backward compatibility mode.
The 1TB variant of the Seagate Portable external HDD weighs 190g, but it’s quite portable. However, note that it’s not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, but you get a 30-day return window from Amazon if something goes wrong.
3. Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable External Hard Drive
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Although the Japanese electronics brand isn’t primarily known for its data storage products, it still is one of the few reputable HDD manufacturers in the market.
The Toshiba Canvio Basics is an excellent option for you in case you are searching for an external hard drive for tv recording with a smaller footprint.
Similar to the previous external HDDs from WD and Seagate, the Toshiba Canvio Basics comes with USB 3.0 data transfer speeds of up to 5Gbit/s.
It also works with the legacy USB 2.0 interface, with a maximum bandwidth of 480Mbit/s. You can connect the external drive to a USB 3.0 port and still saturate the full read and write speeds.
The 1TB variant of Toshiba Canvio Basics is often discounted, so keep your eyes for sales if you want to grab one for cheap. Other variants of this external HDD include 500GB, 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB. The 1TB version weighs only 149g, and its slim casing looks very premium.
4. Transcend 1TB Slim StorageJet 25M3S
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Taiwan-based storage solution brand Transcend is mostly popular for its flash memory cards, pen drives, card readers, and other storage accessories.
They also make portable hard drives, and its Slim StorageJet 25M3S (S stands for Slim) is a popular choice on Amazon.
The Transcend 1TB Slim StorageJet external HDD uses the USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbit/s) interface for data transfer. At the same form factor and dimensions, it’s available in 500GB and 2TB variants as well. The 1TB variant is 185g, but the 4TB version weighs 294g.
One of the best things about this external HDD is its rugged build quality. Instead of regular plastic, the Transcend Slim StorageJet 25M3S uses a reinforced hard casing, protected by an outer silicone rubber case.
There’s also an internal suspension damper that absorbs vibrations, overall providing three-stage shock protection that meets the military drop-test standards. It’s also covered by three years of manufacturer warranty.
In case you decide to use this drive as a backup drive for your Windows or macOS computer, the auto-backup button on the drive can instantly back up your data with a single press. However, you will have to install the Transcend Elite software.
5. Maxtor M3 Portable 1TB Hard Drive
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Maxtor is a subsidiary brand of Seagate, and its 1TB M3 Portable external HDD is a decent choice under £70. It’s available in up to 4TB of capacity, similar to all other portable drives listed here.
The drive speed is rated at 5400 RPM, and it uses the USB 3.0 SuperSpeed (5Gbit/s) interface for data transfer. The M3 Portable drive also comes pre-formatted in NTFS format, and it’s a ready-to-go solution.
It will work perfectly even when connected to a USB 2.0 port, as it’s fully compatible with the legacy USB interface.
The matte black plastic shell can stand up to the rigors of day-to-day usage, and its weight of 150 grams is lightweight enough to be carried everywhere.
For TV recording, we would recommend you go for the 2TB version of the Maxtor M3 Portable HDD, as it costs only £10 more than the 1TB variant.
What should you Look out for When Buying an External Hard Drive for TV?
When buying a new external hard drive for TV, there are a few things you should be aware of. The drive speed of the external HDD matters the most, which is rated by RPM (Revolutions Per Minute). The faster it is, the better read/write speed you will get on the mechanical hard drive.
5400 RPM and 7200 RPM are two of the most common hard drive speeds. While 5400 RPM drives are generally more affordable, 7200 RPM drives are considered significantly faster.
However, most high-density external drives have a rated 5400 RPM speed, as it draws less power from the USB port.
Also, make sure that your device has USB 3.0 ports, as it can utilize the maximum potential of an external hard drive. USB 3.0 ports are labeled blue, whereas 2.0 ports are black.
Fortunately, most TVs and set-top boxes with PVR functionality come with USB 3.0 ports. Hence, you won’t have to worry about limited bandwidth for data transfer.
What Size Of USB Stick For TV Recording?
Should you get an External SSD for TV Recording?
You probably have heard about SSDs before. It stands for “Solid State Drive,” and it has no moving parts, unlike mechanical hard drives.
Since there are no mechanical components in SSDs, they are not only more durable but also marginally faster than HDDs.
An HDD at 7200 RPM can reach a maximum read and write speed of 80-120MB/s, while an SSD comes with an average 250-550MB/s read/write speeds (SATA III interface).
SSDs can provide read and write speeds as high as 3500MB/s on the NVMe interface!
As much as we would recommend you to buy an SSD and use it as your PC boot drive or storage, you won’t notice any difference when using it for recording TV. Also, external SSD solutions are often overpriced compared to regular HDD.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Should I leave my external hard drive connected to the TV 24/7?
It’s completely fine to leave your external hard drive connected to your TV all the time since they are built to last long. When not in use, the hard drive will automatically go into idle mode and save power.
2. Is 1TB of storage enough for TV recording?
It depends on how many hours of TV shows or sports programming you usually record. With a 1TB external drive, you can record up to 180 hours of high-definition content, which should be enough for your needs.
3. How long does an external hard drive last?
External hard drives generally last three to four years of daily usage, assuming that you don’t drop it or leave it in a hot place for prolonged periods. Most manufacturers offer 2-3 years of warranty on their external hard drives, so it should be fine.