Android News

MHL is the future: provides HDMI-out and charges device at the same time

May 17, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Android News


What is MHL other than a new acronym for the tech averse Android community to remember? Well, aside from being the lifeblood of HDMI-out on the HTC EVO 3D and Samsung Galaxy S II, MHL is  the next stage of media output from mobile phones.

MHL is shorthand for Mobile High-Definition Link, a connection standard that supports 1080p HD video and Digital Audio at 7.1 Surround Sound when linking a mobile device to a television. So when someone records video on an Android phone or wants to share select multimedia content on a TV, that person can connect their MHL-capable phone with a compliant television and enjoy a better media experience.

HDMI-out already handles that on my phone, so big deal, right? Wrong. What sets MHL apart is the ability to provide power while connected to a television. Current HDMI-out links from a cell phone can lead to battery draining quickly, but MHL connection modes actually enable charging while sending audio and video from the phone to an HDTV set. Rather than deplete the battery, MHL gives it a boost. And best of all, you can sit back down on the couch once the phone is connected since some handsets support remote control of the mobile device once linked.

MHL optimizes the connection of mobile devices. The days of having a special HDMI-out port and another port for charging will fade away. A switch in the MHL port recognizes when the user merely wants to charge the device and when he or she wishes to connect to a television. That, along with anti-piracy content protection and the ability to build at a lower cost, make MHL an appealing connection interface for phone makers.

Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and TOSHIBA are the only Android device makers who are part of the MHL Consortium, but more than 20 companies have licensed the technology. Acer is an MHL licensee, and HTC is including the technology in the upcoming HTC EVO 3D. Due to limitations of legacy sets, MHL may not be compatible with all devices and televisions for charging, so some MHL-capable devices may require adapters. The AT&T Infuse 4G is one such device. Below is a video showing how the set-up works with an adapter, but future televisions with MHL built-in will require only an MHL phone-to-television cable.

Fast forward to 1:54 if you want to only see the adapter demo.