Everything you can do with the Amazon Fire TV Cube’s Micro USB port — Ethernet, App Storage, External Drives, Peripherals, FLIRC, OTG, and more

Something that greatly differentiates the Amazon Fire TV Cube from the Fire TV 3 is the Cube’s Micro USB port and the official support for expandability that comes with it. I’m sure most Fire TV Cube reviews will quickly dismiss the port as simply where you connect the included Ethernet adapter, but, if you’re reading this, you probably already know better. Come with me on a magical voyage as I explain in excruciating detail how wonderful the Fire TV Cube’s micro USB port is and how it shows that Amazon is listening to our feedback.

First and foremost, yes, the Fire TV Cube’s expandability options through its micro USB port are not as ideal as the built-in Ethernet port, standard USB port, and micro SD card slot found on the Fire TV 2. However, all functionality that those built-in ports on the Fire TV 2 provide is available through the Fire TV Cube’s micro USB port. This is not true for the micro USB OTG capabilities of the Fire TV 3, so it’s a good indication that Amazon has heard our complaints and put in the effort to address them.

At the most basic level, the Fire TV Cube’s micro USB port can be used to connect the included Ethernet adapter to achieve a wired network connection. This is the exact same Amazon Ethernet adapter that is sold separately for $14.99 for use with the Fire TV 3 and the Fire TV Stick 2, so it is interchangeable among those 3 devices.

Even though the Ethernet adapter has a micro USB port on it, you do not need to connect USB power to the Ethernet adapter when it is used with the Fire TV Cube. That port serves no purpose for the Fire TV Cube and is only used to provide pass-through power to the Fire TV 3 and Fire TV Stick 2. If you do connect power to the Ethernet adapter while being used with the Fire TV Cube, it will not damage the Fire TV Cube, nor will it power the Fire TV Cube in place of the main power adapter. (Yes, I did actually risk damaging my Fire TV Cube to test this first hand, so, you’re welcome.)

The micro USB port on the Amazon Ethernet adapter also cannot be used to daisy-chain other USB devices to achieve both Ethernet and other expansion/peripherals. Connecting Ethernet and other USB devices to the Fire TV Cube simultaneously is possible, just not with the included Amazon Ethernet adapter. Not having this extra functionality out of the box is my only complaint with the Amazon Ethernet adapter, but I suspect it was probably necessary to ensure that the same Ethernet adapter works with the Fire TV 3 and Fire TV Stick.

Now that you know what the Amazon Ethernet adapter can and can’t do, let’s move on to other options. For that, you’ll need an OTG adapter. See this article for a list of great options. Whether you just want to connect one thing, a few things, or everything all at once, there’s an OTG adapter that fits each scenario. Among the accessories are USB hubs with built-in Ethernet ports, like this Smays USB Hub + Ethernet adapter, that allows you to easily connect USB devices to the Fire TV Cube while retaining Ethernet connectivity.

Something a lot of people will want to do is connect a USB drive to the Fire TV Cube. This can be a flash/thumb drive, a spinning external hard drive, an external SSD, or a memory card in a card reader. It makes no difference which you connect, as they’ll all be treated the same by the Fire TV Cube.

If you connect a USB drive formatted with FAT32, the Fire TV Cube will immediately mount the drive and display a message in the lower right saying “Limited Drive Access.” I’ll explain the message shortly, but the FAT32 drive is now mounted and accessible by any app, including media player apps like Kodi.

Mounting and making the USB drive universally accessible by all apps on the Fire TV Cube is very different from the behavior of the Fire TV 3. That device does not mount external drives in a way that all apps can access files on the drive. An app must be capable of mounting the drive itself on the Fire TV 3 to access data on the drive. ES File Explorer and Total Commander with a plugin are the only two apps I know of that can do this, which makes external drives nearly useless with the Fire TV 3.

This new behavior, or rather, the return of this old behavior for USB drive mounting that was available on the Fire TV 2 is a good indication that Amazon is listening to our feedback and bringing back functionality with the Fire TV Cube that was lost with the Fire TV 3.

Just as with all past Fire TV models, USB drives must be formatted with FAT32 for them to be read by the Fire TV Cube. Plugging in a drive with any other file system format will result in the above message being displayed, which asks you to select one of two formatting options in order to use the drive with the Fire TV Cube.

Selecting the “External Storage” option will simply format the USB drive to FAT32 and mount it in the same manner as I just described, so that all apps can read and write to the drive. Selecting the “Device Storage” option will prepare the drive so that it can be used to store Fire TV apps. This will format the entire drive with a file system that is unreadable by most computers. The drive will essentially be dedicated for app storage use and nothing else.

Configuring a drive for Device Storage will allow you to move apps from the Fire TV Cube’s internal storage to the USB drive to clear up internal space. The “Limited Drive Access” message displayed when connecting a FAT32 drive simply refers to the fact that the FAT32 USB drive cannot be used to store apps. If you wish, you can press the menu button when that message appears, or go to the Fire TV Cube’s Settings > Device > USB Drive menu to convert the drive from FAT32 to the app storage format.

So the Fire TV Cube supports both standard external storage and expandable storage for apps, which is something that hasn’t been possible with a new Fire TV device since the Fire TV 2. What’s even better is that it supports both simultaneously. If you connect two drives through a USB hub, one that’s FAT32 and one that is set up for app storage, both will be mounted and work correctly. The Fire TV Cube doesn’t officially support more than one drive, because only one drive will ever appear under the settings area, so there may be issues with multiple drives, but both drives were mounted in my initial testing, so it seems to work. I was even able to connect two FAT32 drives and a drive for app storage with all three mounted simultaneously. That’s something even the Fire TV 2 can’t do, since it only mounts one drive for each purpose.

Beyond USB drives and Ethernet, the micro USB port on the Fire TV Cube also supports USB peripherals. You can connect things like USB mice, keyboards, and game controllers. The highly recommended Logitech K400 Keyboard with Touchpad works perfectly on the Fire TV Cube. You can connect USB peripherals simultaneously with USB drives without any issues. Other USB devices, like the FLIRC IR Receiver also work perfectly with the Fire TV Cube.

While more built-in ports for the Amazon Fire TV Cube would have been ideal, it’s great to see that the device officially supports all the expandability features of past Fire TV models at launch. Amazon could have very easily repeated what they did with the Fire TV 3 and just supported their ethernet adapter, but thankfully they’ve made the Fire TV Cube much more of an enthusiast device by supporting numerous expansion options.

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53 comments
  1. No Cube says:

    Why do report this like it’s a Wonderful thing?? They should have put a Darn Ethernet port on the ugly Cube! It’s a NO BUY for me because of this! I’m not going to purchase something else because they should have included it in the 1st Place!

    • Seth says:

      @No Cube
      The device comes with the mentioned Ethernet adapter.

      • AFTVnews says:

        I even made the word “included” bold in anticipation of people like Mr No Cube. Oh well.

        • Jason says:

          I haven’t been able to get my Ethernet adaptors to work on my firetv stick or tv3 for a while. I wonder if people will have the same issues with the cube. I hope the firetv 2 stays in support mode for a while…it’s still the best device I have. Built in Ethernet is still the best.

  2. Mike M says:

    Is there any slow down experienced when using the Ethernet adapter and USB storage at the same time?

  3. ChrisM says:

    The Fire TV Cube screensaver kicks in at about 10mins when watching anything on Kodi and stops playback.

  4. Patrick Graham says:

    What is the best way to transfer all your apps and data from your old FireTV 2 to a cube? Is there an app that would handle backup and restore through the USB ports on the devices?

  5. OG Charlie says:

    I wish they would add support for NTFS

  6. Joe says:

    This was the deal killer for me. No dedicated ethernet, no dedicated memory card slot, NO BUY! What’s the point of a sleek Cube with an absurd amount of wires and adapters coming off it to make it functional as a 3 year old FireTV Box?

  7. Junior says:

    It’s incredible that the Fire TV Cube does not support drives with NTFS.

    • clocks says:

      I don’t get this either. NTFS has been the standard forever now.

      • Junior says:

        NTFS has never been a standard on Fire TV boxes. But if Amazon had truly been listening, NTFS was one key feature we all wanted and they did not deliver. So not only is it slower (CPU wise from what I have read) but I still can’t watch movies with file sizes over 4GB. And I can’t for the life of me understand why they couldn’t put the ethernet jack in the box itself. Was space constraints that tight? So it’s an adapter for ethernet, and adapted for USB sticks, and adapter for this and that. It leaves me scratching my head.

        • T S says:

          NTFS is Microsoft IP. Amazon would have to license it. That would raise the price of this product from a $120-$200 box, to probably closer to $275 minimum if we are realistic.

  8. Donald Smeaton says:

    Have anyone had any luck with connecting via micro usb cable to PC using ADB software

  9. Nate says:

    Excellent write up!

  10. Jim Carter says:

    Being a service technician, I visit homes on a daily basis (since 1999). I can say, without hesitation, that I’ve seen absolutely ZERO wired for Internet. I contend that, at least some of those who complain, don’t have ethernet either, they just like to be negative.

    • Hegemon875 says:

      I dont doubt it but you have to acknowledge that anyone posting here is going to be a part of a self selected niche that is not going to be representative of most people.

    • Amazonian says:

      My home, which was built about 6 years ago, had built-in wiring for ethernet, and pretty much most new homes built in the last few years come pre-wired for ethernet.

      You must be working on some really old homes.

      • Hegemon says:

        I guess it depends on where you live in the country but I wouldn’t consider 6 years to be “really old”.

    • Richard says:

      Depends. Many builders include it as an option. Many still use RG59 coax. And then, is it where you need it?

      Can’t imagine one wired for DD+ let alone Atmos.

  11. Richard says:

    Here’s a question. Will it support a USB OTA TV tuner? I already have an eight port USB3 hub from my Pendant that supports my Logi keyboard and Amazon Basics USB Ethernet adapter. I have a Flirc pluged in but I really don’t know if does anything anymore. Think was needed for my 1 to except maybe the menu key.

    This article makes me feel better about the Cube. Other than the extra memory I didn’t see any uitily. As mu Logi Hub and Ultimate run the system, I was about to turn that over to Alexa

  12. Joe says:

    I own 3 ftv2 and 2 gen 2 sticks.The NTFS issue along with no Spectrum cable app and Vudu finally prompted me to purchase 2 roku ultras.

    I don’t like some of the limitations of Roku, but its nice to have 4k files play off my hdd via usb.

    • Hegemon says:

      You should dive all in into the home media world and get yourself a media server like plex or emby. You sound like the textbook candidate for it. You could play those 4k files from any of those devices without having to physically connect that HDD to them.

  13. John Sandlin says:

    So does the otg port on the ethernet plug work or do u need to buy a different one to add a storage drive when using ethernet

  14. Richard says:

    Actually I am not sure there is much USB expansion. I tried a 64gb and 128gb Micro SD’s in a USB adapter. It only sees about 24gb after formatting as USB Device Storage.

    Also is not supporting 4k 2160/59, YCpCr420color, and 12bit audio as my FTV3 did. My AVR says it is pushing DD+ and 4k.

    Cube will only allow me 1080, 8bit audio, and RGB color. Says my LG OLED 65C7P won’t support it. Did with the Pendant and did HDR, HDR10, DV, YCpCr420, and 48bit audio.

    Tried CS and they suggested tried and always failed “blame” the customer support solutions such as deregister and reset.

  15. ChrisM says:

    So after three days of the Cube, I’ve decided to send it back. It’s the first Alexa device I have not been happy with and is making me feel like a beta tester; I own an Echo, two Echo Dots, an Echo Spot, and two Fire TV Sticks (3rd gen) and am very happy will all of those. My Fire TV Stick, Harmony Hub, and other Echo devices are vastly superior in terms of integration for music, voice control, and control of all my AV devices. The Cube won’t control anything but my TV and soundbar and will NOT control my cable box, DVD player or Blu-ray players, doesn’t integrate with my household-wide music group, gets confused at my voice commands, and I can’t consistently control everything with voice. I also need at least two remotes at all times, one for the soundbar and the Cube remote, because half the time the Cube changes its own volume rather than the volume on the soundbar, and I can’t navigate everything on the Cube by voice. First Alexa-based product I’m unhappy with. Oh, and since I don’t have a 4K TV, there’s nothing gained in the “upgrade” from the Stick.

    • Richard says:

      I am with you Bro. Thought Alexa Device control was idiotic after spending four years getting my Harmony Hub and Ultimate tamed.

      I am stating with the Cube because:

      1. Double RAM
      2. USB Device Storage for Apps. It only sees 26gb on two SD cards 64gb and 128gb.
      3. Uh, there really is no 3.

      Supporting a TV Tuner and a DVR would have made it a winner.

      These streamers are all a bust for me with the exception of Netflix and Prime. Little 1080 or 5.1 and I’m 4K with 5.2.2 Atmos. All make my DirecTV Sat look great 1080/5.1 OTT’s and OTA’s plus a great guide and DVR scheduling. All in a seamless package.

  16. Edgar R says:

    Anyone have any issues setting up audio passthrough on kodi with fire tv cube. Can’t seem to get 7.1 working. Had DTS-HD and atmos working on SPMC on my firetv 2nd gen. Can’t seem to get it working on the cube. Anyone have settings I can try for the cube. I have both the kodi 17.6 and last version of SPMC installed. None can passthrough the audio to my AVR.

  17. Jim P. says:

    The very basic mistake Amazon did in the hardware design was to keep USB2 for the only available port.

    I can live with keeping costs down by removing an ethernet port that many if not most people don’t use. Less understandable is removing the SDCard slot, again your average user may not use the SDCard slot. both of these functions can be reproduced via the USB port.

    But if you remove both the ethernet and SDCard ports you really need to upgrade the only available port so that the device can function at its full capability. I fully understand that 100mb ethernet uses a portion of the theoretical bandwidth (BW) of USB2, allowing the rest of the available BW to be used for storage. Saturating the USB2 BW with data and ethernet traffic will cause performace issues.

    By having USB3 or better yet USB3.1 or C, the shared functions would work with much less of a performance hit.

    Having USB3 or greater would allow for a gigabit ethernet connection and of course fast storage access.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    Jim

  18. ScottyP says:

    Will the cube mount a HDD with multiple partitions and read both. Looking to have separate partitions for Kodi and was wondering if I could use both. Will only be used in Kodi.

  19. jeremy says:

    So Amazon’s answer to not including ethernet and sdcard is we can buy a bunch of dongles? No thanks, I’ll jusy buy a firetv2 used from ebay.

  20. Carl Stevens says:

    I’m having trouble mounting anything larger than 32gig thumb drive or SD card. Will Fire TV Cube recognize anything larger? I have a 500gig Samsung T5 portable SSD and several San Disk 64 gig cards that do not work.

    Config:
    New Fire TV Cube
    Several OTG hubs and adapters, One powered even
    16 gig thumb drive (works fine) – Fat 32
    32 gig San Disk micro card (works fine) – Fat 32
    32 gig San Disk SD card (works fine) – Fat 32
    64 gig San Disk micro card (not working) – Fat 32
    500 gig Samsung T5 portable SSD (not working) – Fat 32

    I would live to put a spinning 6 or 8 TB powered external drive on this Cube.

    Is this possible?
    Thank you

    • Carl Stevens says:

      Update;
      After re-booting, I got the 64gig memory cards to work.
      I also got the 500gig SSD drive after I tried the externally powered OTG hub.
      Next, I will try some spinning external hard drives both pocket drives and big 6 and 8 TB. Then I will try some external drive enclosures.
      But confidence is high.
      Thx

  21. Al says:

    After playing with a Iogear OTG model GOFRH202 attached to my Fire TV cube I was finally able to get the device to recognize a 32gb San disk card. Tried several other Sd cards as well as a couple of USB thumb drives with no success. Also been trying to get device to recognize a 64gb San disk card but again unsuccessful.

    • Carl Stevens says:

      Hello AI,
      So if you read my comments above, I have done some further testing. Truth be told, I have been heavily involved with an Android TV box as well. Anyway, every memory stick and SD card I have thrown at the Fire TV Cube has worked. Even a Samsung 500 gig SSD drive has worked. I have three different types of OTG adapters and the SSD drive only worked with the one that takes external power (wall wart).

      What does not seem to work is an external spinning hard drive. I have a spare 3TB Seagate external drive that is powered and no luck.

      Make sure you format the thumb drives and the SD cards in Fat-32 first.

      • Carl Stevens says:

        Oh, and the Android TV Box has taken everything I have thrown at it without issue. The Fire TV Cube is faster and more “refined” so that is something I really like about it. That and I am a big Alexa user and the Cube controls my TV with ease. The Android TV Box is much slower, but acts much more like a computer (a phone really), and with a wireless keyboard it can really do much more. I’m having fun with both, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both platforms.

  22. Irfan says:

    Hi there, got one question. What is the speed max of this cube can support over 5ghz wifi?

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