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What Is MHL?

Illustration for article titled What Is MHL?

Between the Roku Streaming Stick and these Samsung displays we've seen a few recent products equipped with a new audio/visual connection called MHL. It is not a new way to view hockey.

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So what is MHL, and will it actually do you any good?

MHL stands for "Mobile High-Definition Link," which is a recently introduced standard connection…

The specification for the audio-connection connection was introduced in 2010 by a consortium of major electronics companies including Nokia, Sony, Samsung, and Toshiba. The five-pin connection is supposed to deliver 1080p picture quality, 192khz sound quality, and 7.1 channel surround sound.

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… intended to simplify linking mobile devices to HD displays…

The specification is designed to connect smartphones and tablets to HDTVs and HD displays—two types of products don't work together very well yet. But in theory, MHL could be used to connect a variety of devices to each other. If you think an easier way to watch the video on your iPhone on your TV sounds great, don't worry, it gets better. MHL is designed to work with the variety of connections that are already out there: Since there's such a low pin count, it's easy for manufacturers of different mobile products—say, Samsung and Apple smartphones—to map their existing connectors to the new system.

… that is already available on a few products…

So far, only a few devices are MHL capable. These include the Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab, several HTC phones including the Amaze 4G as well as the brand new Roku Streaming Stick. There's also a few displays and TVs, including two new Samsung displays we just heard about today. Have a Samsung Galaxy S II, but no MHL display? Thanks to the aforementioned low pin count on the connection, there are already a few kinds of adapters out there and as more MHL devices come out, you can expect more adapters. Check out that MHL to HDMI adapter above. Get used to seeing it.

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… and you can expect more on the way.

Speaking of more products, we've already seen a few new MHL ready products in advance of CES. Don't be surprised if you see a bunch more next week, especially from MHL consortium member Sony, which has a long history of introducing slews of new gearat CES.

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[Image via MHL]

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DISCUSSION

frankurd
Arggh! there goes a...snake a snake!

How is MHL different than mini-HDMI in terms of what it can transfer? I feel like I've seen many more devices with mini HDMI for which adapters are not needed and mini-HDMI is getting the job done just fine.