Wednesday, November 23, 2016

USB Thumb Drives, Hard Drives and SD Memory Cards - Oh My!

Primary TV..Way Up Front
    Last week I wrote a story about deciding which type of "television" to stick with while I travel. Satellite, broadcast, or internet streaming. While I am still deciding on that question, I remembered that with my existing system, I can still watch video files that I download online. There are lots of legal sources for this kind of thing...pick your favorite. Once downloaded and transferred to some kind of storage device that is compatible with your video player, all you have to do is click "play." I used to limit myself to smaller, low resolution files because the memory devices were expensive, but not any more. Well not really anyway. You can get HUGE storage (yes, I know that today's HUGE is tomorrow's TINY), whether it be an SD memory card a USB "thumb" drive or even a small USB external hard drive. The costs are low enough that you can take MANY video files with you. Heck, if you have a home computer and own a bunch of DVDs you can even turn them into files and take along whole TV shows! Really?

MY USB External 1 Tb Hard Drive
When a Terabyte USB external hard drive that doesn't need a separate power supply is only $49.99 and it will store lots of movies and TV shows...what are you waiting for! Figure around 1 Gigabyte (Gb) per movie, which is pretty large. At HD (1080) resolution you can store hundreds of films and many, many TV episodes. Lots more if they are only 30 minutes long! I have well over 800 hours of material on my external USB drive. If you go the USB "drive" or Flash memory route, you can get versions of each that hold up to 1Tb of data. They are VERY expensive. The name brand 1Tb USB drive will likely cost 10 times (or more) what a regular spinning hard drive would cost for the same capacity. You can go smaller -- I've seen 512Gb go for as little as $90 and 256Gb going for under $50. You could always get smaller ones: 128Ggb, 64Gb, and 32Gb versions cost less and less. You could buy a whole bunch and store different content on each one. I have quite a few in various sizes.

Some Of My Assorted USB Thumb Drives
Why not have a bunch of the smaller sized USB flash drives? Well, they are REALLY easy to lose! I've lost a few over the years and sometimes replacing the data is a really long, involved pain in the you-know-what. Yes, I should have backed everything up and put it in a safe place. That's good advice...IF you follow it. I keep a 1Tb external, self-powered, USB hard drive in the cabinet with my Digital media player on board the RV. I only take it out to add or change what's stored on it. At least I can always find it when I want to watch something! Sometimes I use the smaller ones to take along a particular film(s) or something I want to show friends. They are great for that!

It comes down to personal preference. Flash drives use less power, but are usually smaller in storage size. The power usage of a 2.5" Hard drive (the kind found in laptops) is really negligible if you are only using it when the content is actually playing on your screen. I'm sticking with mine until prices on the really large flash drives drop. And they will!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"


  1. A word of caution about USB flash drives, and if you have a dash cam or other video recorder, SD memory cards. The less expensive versions cannot support the data transfer rates required for reliable video viewing or recording. Which ever device you buy, be sure it can reliably support video - for example, a 2.0 USB flash drive isn't likely to work properly - a 3.0 USB flash drive is. Sorry, I don't recall the specs for transfer rates (68 year old brain doesn't file well anymore!) but one can easily compare them at various media seller websites.

    1. Alex,
      I only buy the Class 10 (10 MB/s) and that's what is typically available today. While you can find slower ones....I don't recommend buying them.

      Sound advice!

      Rich "The Wanderman"


Thank you for your comment. Our moderator checks each one to make sure we keep the Spammers away. So the comment will likely not appear immediately.