Desktop vs Portable external hard drive? (and a side rant)

I’m sure my question ss like posting “what oil do you use” on a motorcycle or car forum… but…

I doing some research on OTA DVRs and Tablo 4th Gen keeps coming up. I’ve read a bunch of the hard drive threads here and have not found a direct answer or a newer than 2018 answer to my question.

A bit of background: For the past 8 years, we have lived in and traveled in our RVs. We spend 6 months in FL and travel to less hot places for the rest of the year. There are times that we will spend a summer in a place with no OTA TV reception. We have Starlink and our TVs are smart, so we do not need the Tablo for streaming, we only need it for OTA Recording. Because we might need 6 months worth of recordings to cover us for our time outside of FL, I plan on adding an 8T hard drive (the max recommended size.)

In my research, I see desktop external hard drives and portable hard drives. I think they boil down to hard drives with an external power supply and hard drives that are powered by the device. The portable drives seem to be a bit smaller, maxing out at 6T and they cost a bit more. I prefer the larger 8T but wanted to get the communities input. I have plenty of outlets for the Tablo and hard drives power supply.

Are there any negatives to having the larger 8T hard drive with an external power supply vs one of the smaller portable drives (without an external PS)?

Side rant: “Cut the cord they said” My cable bill was in the neighborhood of $50 a month. I cut the cord and now we have YouTube TV, Netflix, Apple TV, Disney TV, Paramont+, Peacock, Roku, and several other streaming services. We are spending a fortune on these services. I think with Tablo, we will be able to save a bunch on our monthly “TV bill”


In my case with my Gen4… I have used USB adapters off amazon for my 2 hard drives that I’ve used. Those adapters came with their own power supplies.

I used a 500GB SSD without issue and I current use a 3.5 WD Black 4TB without any issues.

I prefer the hard drives having their own power supplies when in stand alone state (in my network rack). My personal preference.


My personal experience with a legacy Tablo has been that a harddrive with an external power supply has one major advantage. As power supplies age, they may get to a place where they aren’t capable of outputting the rated capacity. Tablo power supplies in particular have been known to degrade to a point where they will no longer power the unit. Having to also supply power to the harddrive puts an even larger burden on the Tablo power supply. I have been using a 5TB external harddrive with an external power supply since 2015 and both the Tablo and harddrive are still running smoothly.


We were spending $150+ a month in TV and Streaming. DirecTV Stream jacked their prices from $65 to $90 a month. Over a 3 year span.

We got the Tablo in Dec '23 and consolidated it all down. We are about $50 a month.

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I too have been using my legacy Tablo since early 2015 with a self powered 1tb hard drive that was a few years old when I moved it to the Tablo. That hard drive is around 11 years old now and going strong. And I’m still using the original Tablo power supply that would be 9+ years old. I’m an advocate for self powered hard drives when ever possible.

The only thing we pay for, besides internet service, is a little over $50 a year for the guide for my legacy Tablo.


I was trying to reply with quote, I guess I can’t do that yer.

@3rdRockOKC Its funny that you say that. I had a Netgear NightHawk router that would intermittently go offline. I would replaced the PS and the problem woutd away. The power supply would only last 10 months to a year and then the problem returned.

I changed to xfinity’s 1GB plan I had to use their cable modem/router and I no longer needed the coverage that the NightHawk provided (RV living vs big house living.) I didn’t want to spend another $40 to fix the NighHawk so in the trash it went.

Now I have trouble free internet. And if the modem/router ever becomes a problem… I bring my cable modem and power supply to the local xfinity for a replacement.