Smart TVs & USB: 16 Answers (For Beginners)

USB devices have gone beyond their original use as simple storage devices you attach to your computer. They are now used with stereos, your car entertainment system, and even smart TVs.

That’s right, smart TVs now can read content from USB storage devices, such as flash drives and external hard drives.

And the USB port on your smart TV has a surprising number of uses.

Here’s What You Need to Know about Smart TVs and USB Connections:

Smart TVs are TV sets that allow users to access apps via the Internet, while USB is a standard wired connection capability that lets you access different content and features by connecting devices. Connecting devices to your smart TV via USB ports gives you more options.

1. Do Smart TVs Have USB Ports?

Smart TVs now come with USB ports that let you use other devices in tandem with your TV.

2. What Kind of USB Port Can You Find on a Smart TV?

Smart TVs generally use USB Type-A ports to connect accessories to your TV.

Type-A ports have been around for quite a while now, which makes them an excellent choice when connecting devices to your smart TV.

You should know what type of USB ports your smart TV uses, especially with newer devices now using USB-C as their point of wired connectivity.

If your device uses Type-C, you may have to get a USB-A to USB-C connector to hook up with your smart TV.

3. What Can You Do with the USB Port of Your Smart TV?

The USB port of your smart TV can serve different purposes. Here are good examples of how it can function.

Firmware Updates

If your Internet connection is not stable for firmware updates, you can take an external storage device, such as a flash drive, download the update on the drive, and connect it to the TV through the USB port to update the firmware of your smart TV without being connected to the Internet.

Firmware updates ensure a smooth operating experience, as they can also improve hardware performance, including Bluetooth and video displays.

Input and Navigation Devices

You can also use the USB port of your smart TV to plug in input devices so you can have better navigation of the smart TV interface.

Instead of relying on the on-screen keyboard and arrow keys of your remote control to type, you can use a keyboard to make searching faster.

Charging Port for Gadgets

The USB port of your smart TV can be used as a charger in case you can’t find the wall charger of your device. You can plug in any device that charges into your TV’s USB port for charging.

These include devices such as smartphones, tablets, and even smartwatches.

While it will charge your devices, take note that it won’t be as efficient as if you were charging through a dedicated wall charger or power bank. USB ports can only put out a certain amount of power through its ports.

4. What Can You Connect to Smart TVs via USB?

You can connect a lot of devices to your smart TV through its USB port.

A Mouse or Keyboard

You have the option to use a wired or wireless mouse with a USB receiver.

If you don’t like typing with your remote control, you can plug in a keyboard through the USB port. For better results, consider plugging in a wireless USB keyboard with a trackpad.

Game Controller

You can also plug in a game controller so you can have a more convenient controller when you play games on your smart TV.

Storage Devices

The USB port of smart TVs can also be used to plug in storage devices such as external hard drives and flash drives.

A smart TV can read external storage of up to 2 TB in size and may play media files, such as videos, audio, and photos.

And on some smart TVs, you can use the external storage device to store videos that you record from the TV. If you own an Android smartphone, you can plug it into the USB port of your smart TV and display media content on your phone. You can then flip through photos or videos using the TV remote.

Bonus: While you view these media files, your phone battery gets charged through the USB port!

Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Dongles

On some smart TVs, you can also plug Bluetooth or Wi-Fi dongles into your smart TV’s USB port, to give your TV an added option for connectivity.

Web Cameras

Some smart TVs also have the option to plug in web cameras. This feature is often used for video calling apps that are available on smart TVs.

5. Can Smart TVs Play PowerPoint Files from USB?

Smart TVs cannot play PowerPoint files from the USB port.

If you want to display a PowerPoint presentation on your smart TV’s screen, you can do the following:

  • Upload your PowerPoint file to Google Drive, and open the file through your smart TV’s browser.
  • Take advantage of screencasting or mirroring. You can use your smartphone or computer to cast the PowerPoint presentation through Chromecast, or AirPlay, if compatible.
  • Save your PowerPoint file as a compatible video. This option will need you to time the slides and may not be practical.

6. Can You Record from a Smart TV to USB?

Some TVs can record videos on your smart TV to your USB drive or external hard drive, but not all smart TVs have this feature.

The brand that is most notable for this feature is Sony, but TVs released by the brand in 2018 and later do not have this feature anymore.

7. Can You Play Movies from a USB on a Smart TV?

You can play movies from a USB storage device on your smart TV.

Most smart TVs can play MKV, MPEG, MP4, and MOV files that are saved on flash drives and external hard drives.

8. What is the Largest Capacity of a USB Drive that a Smart TV Can Read?

A smart TV can read external storages with capacities of up to 2 TB. These storage devices must be formatted in either exFAT, NTFS, or FAT 32.

9. Can You Connect Wi-Fi to a Smart TV with USB?

If your smart TV does not have Wi-Fi or Ethernet, you can plug in a Wi-Fi USB adapter so that your TV can connect to the Internet wirelessly.

10. Can You Use a USB Keyboard on a Smart TV?

You can plug a USB keyboard into the USB port of your smart TV.

The USB port was designed to work with both wired USB keyboards and wireless keyboards.

11. How Do I Fix My USB Stick if It’s Not Recognized by My TV?

There are four possible reasons why your USB Stick isn’t being recognized by your TV.

  • 1. The USB device you plugged in is not compatible with your smart TV. If the USB device you plugged into your TV isn’t compatible with your TV, there’s nothing to be done to fix this issue. Examples of USB devices that won’t work with your smart TV include USB sound cards and USB MIDI devices.
  • 2. Another issue could be that the USB device is using a file format system not recognized by your smart TV. If that is the case, you should format your storage to a recognizable system.
  • 3. The third reason would be your device is damaged. You can try conducting a disc scan of the storage device to check for any problems. In some cases, you might have to reformat the storage device.
  • 4. The final issue would be that the USB port of your smart TV might be only for firmware updates. In this case, you can’t do anything about it; that’s just the way the TV was manufactured, and you will only be able to plug in USB devices that carry firmware updates for your TV.

12. Can You Format a USB Drive on a Smart TV?

Some smart TVs allow you to format your USB storage through its system. The advantage of this is that you get to format your storage into a file system that is compatible with your smart TV.

13. Do Smart TVs Automatically Connect to Your USB Drive?

Smart TVs can read your USB drive automatically.

Unlike plugging it into your computer, you won’t get a prompt, but you can always check the media file manager of your smart TV to make sure it’s recognized.

  • On the remote control of your smart TV, you will find a button for the USB drive.
  • You can click on it to open the media file manager of your TV.
  • All the compatible files and folders will be displayed on your screen.

14. Can You Save to USB from Your Smart TV?

The only files you can save on an external USB storage device from your smart TVs are those that come from the recording function of the TV. And not all smart TVs have this feature.

It is worth noting that the browsers of smart TVs do not have a “save to storage” function. Thus you cannot download files from the browser of the smart TV.

15. Do You Need to Eject USB Devices from Your Smart TV Manually?

Like computers, you need to eject USB storage devices properly to avoid loss of data.

In the case of Samsung and LG, you can eject the USB storage by opening the USB source menu.

In the case of Sony and Vizio, you need to turn off the smart TV before you unplug your USB storage.

Non-storage USB devices, such as keyboards and pointing devices, need not go through this process; you can just unplug them.

16. Can You Plug a USB Hub into Your Smart TV?

Most modern smart TVs allow you to plug in USB hubs so that you can expand the number of ports available on your TV.

This feature comes in handy if you only have one or two USB ports on your smart TV, but want to connect your external hard drive, keyboard, mouse, or even use the USB port as a power source for dongles like the Chromecast.

Final Thoughts

The addition of USB ports into smart TVs has expanded the content you can view on your TV.

With people steering away from more disposable optical media, such as discs, the added feature of reading USB drives made media storage more sustainable.

But it’s only a matter of time until the USB Type-A port currently used by smart TVs will get replaced by the USB Type-C connector.

Until then, the USB port in smart TVs remains a godsend feature that makes more sustainable media storage possible.



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