When HTC announced its stellar One line, one of the most exciting details was this little accessory called the Media Link HD. It promised to wirelessly stream content to your TV, easily and beautifully.
It broke that promise.
What Is It?
It's a portable device measuring 3.3 x 2 x 0.5 inches. It plugs in to any TV via an HDMI cable. It communicates with an HTC phone over Wi-Fi. Then, it streams content from the phone right to the TV.
Who's it For?
People who want their big TV to play the videos, photos, music and games on their phone.
The little thing fits in a pocket. It gets a bit bulkier with the HDMI and power cables attached. Simple, compact.
Here's what's supposed to happen: You plug the Media Link into a power source and a TV. Connect the HTC phone to Wi-Fi. Then on the phone's screen, simply swipe upwards with three fingers. It instantly connects, and switches the phone to landscape orientation. From that point, everything on the phone is mirrored on the TV. It's totally easy and seamless! (Note: No it isn't.)
The Best Part
Ummm, it's going to have to be the concept. Totally great concept.
Oh, let's see, how about: IT DOESN'T WORK! At all. This thing is absolutely, completely, and fundamentally broken. Utterly useless. It's not even heavy enough to be a paperweight.
This Is Weird...
It's a thing that doesn't at all do what it's supposed to do, and it's made by a company that normally makes good stuff.
- Setup was pretty easy. But as soon as it was up and running, everything went wrong. There is tremendous lag between the phone and the TV. The lag is one second at the shortest. It lags up to 20 seconds (and sometimes infinity) at its worst. This means gaming is 100 percent impossible. Temple Run won't run. The lag on Samurai II: Vengeance gets you hacked to pieces.
- This was tested on a strong, reliable home Wi-Fi network that had no other devices on it at the time. When that sucked, the test relocated to Gizmodo HQ. There are a lot of devices on that network, but it's built for that kind of weight. Results were equally terrible in both locations.
- More than half of the time, it wouldn't even connect. This is despite having strong Wi-Fi reception on the phone. It just wouldn't do anything.
- The phone used was the European version of the One X, which recently had a software update that was supposed to make this kind of thing better. It was also tested it with the EVO 4G LTE, which fared just as poorly.
- At one point, while struggling to connect, some random screen came up. It turns out that a visiting Hungarian who was in the building also has a One X, and it just connected spontaneously, despite him not having swiped his three fingers upwards. After that, the Media Link didn't connect to the first One X for the rest of the day.
- When it was actually quasi-working, it could not stream HD video well at all. Playback was choppy, and the audio was out of sync. YouTube videos were slightly better (because they stream at a lower bitrate) but they would generally play for 10 seconds, then stop and buffer for a while, then repeat.
- The best usage (loosely speaking) was for streaming music. But even then, it was a major fail. When the screen turned off, the music would stop. Really guys? Come on! Also, audio quality was very not good.
Should You Buy It?
For $90, should you buy the HTC Suck Puck? No, you most certainly should not. This is all the more tragic because it was a great idea that had so much potential. But the execution falls flat. HTC's phones have been killer recently, so this is a major surprise.
If it turns out that this was a test of a broken unit, this post may be updated later. But right now it just seems this thing doesn't work at all.
HTC Media Link HD specs
• Networking: Wi-Fi
• Compatibility: HTC Android Phones
• Size: 3.3 x 2 x 0.5 inches
• Connections: HDMI, power
• Price: $90
• Giz Rank: 1 star
UPDATE: HTC sent us a replacement unit that wasn't broken, but we still don't recommend it due to audio/video sync problems, sub-par video quality, and latency issues.