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THOUGHT: Now that you have an MHL-Enabled Smartphone or Tablet - What's Next?
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 17.09.13 - 15:53:53 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 17637x
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In my little "What's Next?" series, let us talk today about MHL (which stands for Mobile High-Definition Link) - a technology of which I'm a big fan of but also a technology which might be still a little bit underrated and conveniently overlooked, until you have experienced its value for the first time. I had my very first contact, where I experienced its value, two years ago when I was for three months in Angola and where my MHL-enabled Samsung Galaxy S2 virtually connected my German Slingbox to the living room TV screen which allowed me to watch live German TV on the other side of the equator. However, since then many more use cases and usage scenarios were added and I want to list just a few here.

For the beginners, the MHL standard was founded by the MHL Consortium in April 2010 and founding members were Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony and Toshiba. MHL is an industry standard for a mobile audio/video interface which allows to connect mobile phones and tablets to high-definition televisions and audio receivers (to make it simple, think about a HDMI cable you use to connect your smartphone or tablet with a TV). The currently used standard supports Full HD up to 1080p/60 and 7.1 surround sound audio output while simultaneously charging the connected device and even allowing to remote control it through a single Remote Control unit (learn more about MHL here).

Now, after we know that MHL allows to connect a smartphone or tablet to a TV or audio receiver the question lasts  what can you actually do with it? Here are a just a few ideas how you could use it:

  • Watch OTT (Over The Top) videos from VoD services, broadcaster media centers, etc. big screen on your living room TV.
  • Share your memorable photos and videos on the big screen in Full HD and 8-channel audio.
  • Listen your favorite worldwide radio stations through TuneIn or stream your music from Google Music, Spotify or others on the much better TV speakers or audio receivers.
  • Enjoy a game console experience by using your MHL-enabled smartphone that's wirelessly paired with a controller to play your favorite games on the big screen (ClickThePic is such a good example).
  • Browse the Internet on your TV by using either MHL-enabled media sticks, such as the Roku Streaming Stick or connect your smartphone or tablet and connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to it.
  • Connect your MHL-enabled smartphone to your MHL AVR and enhance your home theater experience, for instance by using karaoke apps to sing your favorite tunes as accompanying lyrics show across the TV and enjoy the sounds through your home theater sound system.
  • Connect your MHL-enabled smartphone to a laptop accessory and use touchscreen, keyboard and mouse commands to operate it as a mobile PC environment where all of the computing power is done on the MHL-enabled smartphone.
  • Travel light on business trips and deliver your next presentation from your MHL-enabled smartphone that's connected to a projector (typically the projector needs a HDMI port).
  • Travel light on vacation or business trips and connect your smartphone or tablet to the TV in your hotel room to either watch videos from your device or to watch placeshifted live TV, fro instance through a Slingbox, on a bigger screen.
  • While many TV are smart nowadays, not all of them feature webcams. By connecting your MHL-enabled smartphone or tablet to it, you can keep in touch with family and friends big screen by using Skype or other video telephony apps.
  • Something more fore the future is the access of your latest music and navigation apps on the go by connecting your MHL-enabled smartphone in the car.
  • Bonus: By connecting your MHL-enabled smartphone or tablet to your MHL TV (or use an adapter with your legacy HDMI TV), your device is charged at the same time (since this is part of the MHL standard).

You can do all of this by either using a simple cable connection or - if you prefer it more convenient, for instance at home - you can use an MHL-enabled docking station like the iBolt MHL Streamer XL Dock (see my quickview here).

Unfortunately, and that's a drawback, MHL is only supported on Android. Even if Nokia was a founding member of the MHL Consortium, MHL isn't part of the company's Lumia-range of Windows Phones since Microsoft hasn't added MHL as part of Windows Phone yet. But even on Android, not all devices support it. Most high-end phones and tablets, like the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and LG G2 have it; others, like the Nexus 7 2012 or the Huawei Ascend P6 don't have it. So if you plan to use MHL as well, better make sure that your next smartphone or tablet have it and if you plan to buy a new TV, also make sure it is MHL enabled. Because in this case you can even use your TV RC unit to remote control your smartphone or tablet.

Cheers ~ Arne


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