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Meet MHL, The Next Generation In HD Connectivity

While checking out the new MOGA controllers for Android, I got a chance to speak with a representative from the MHL consortium. According to the MHL, there are more than 220 million MHL-enabled devices on the market – 200 are unique products – and the list is growing. These include AVRs, Blue-ray Disc players, laptop docks, PC monitors and projectors.

So what's the big deal about MHL? It's the next step up from HDMI, adding power to the audio and video lines. This a good thing, as performance is increased when playing video or games streamed from a connected mobile device because it is only focused on one input/output, a MHL-compliant miniUSB port. Thanks to MHL, aka Mobile High-definition Link, compatible smartphones and tablets can connect to a MHL-compliant HDTV and receive a charge while pumping video or gaming to the TV's screen.

"I’m pleased to see the continued momentum MHL has experienced over the past year, achieving more than 100 percent year-over-year growth. In 2012, we also saw the release of new products that leverage our technology in creative ways beyond mobile devices and displays," said Judy Chen, president of MHL, LLC.

The MHL Consortium was founded by Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony and Toshiba in 2010, and is pushing to make MHL the standard, to deliver a great "mobile-to-big-screen" experience. Current MHL-enabled devices can be purchased through carriers, retailers and directly from leading original equipment manufacturers, the rep said.

MHL smartphones and tablets are now available from Samsung, Sony, TCL, ZTE, Pantech, LG Mobile, HTC, Mezili, Acer, Sharp, Lenovo, oppo and MI. HDTV's with MHL certification are available from Samsung, LG, Insigna, Hitachi, Sharp, Toshiba, Sony and AOC. Monitor manufacturers include Samsung, LG, acer and Philips.

For consumers who don't have a MHL-certified HDTV, there's an adapter available on the market that plugs into a power outlet. Thus, a MHL-enabled smartphone or tablet would connect to the adapter, and the adapter would connect to the TV via HDMI. The phone or tablet is still charged because the adapter is plugged into a wall outlet.

MHL also has a remote control protocol that allows the TV remote to control the phone. But the MHL rep was focused on stressing the issue of performance, that there wouldn't be any glitches or stuttering typically seen when connecting a smartphone and tablet via HDMI. The group was showing a demo of NOVA 3 running on a smartphone connected to an HDTV via MFL, and I saw no video lag or engine chugging on-screen. That's definitely a good thing, and moves the industry one step closer into making the typical gaming console obsolete.

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