A Better Way to Put Phone Video on TVs

By  |  Monday, March 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

One of the neater features on many recent smartphones is support for displaying high-def video stored on the phone on an HDTV through an HDMI connection. I just bought an adapter for doing this with my iPad, but using it can be a little awkward: Once you hook up the phone to the TV, you often have to worry about also connecting it to a power source, and to pause or otherwise control the video on the phone you might have to crouch next to the set since connector cables typically aren’t that long.

A nascent standard called MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) seeks to address these issues.  It allows the TV to charge the mobile device over the same HDMI connection used to deliver video and other content to the set. The MHL spec (version 1.0 is already out) also  lets you use your TV’s remote to control playback on the connected device.

It might take a while for the technology to gain traction since both the mobile device and the HDTV must support it. But at least you wouldn’t have to get a new TV: The MHL Consortium says you should be able to add MHL functionality to your TV through an short adapter cable that hooks into an HDMI port. As for phones and mobile device support, MHL Consortium members include Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony, and Toshiba, so that’s a decent start in the manufacturing community.

I hope MHL catches on: I hate crouching by my TV.



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3 Comments For This Post

  1. weekends Says:

    That is the reason Apple created Airplay, sure it is limited (to 720p I think, and required an ATV) but it solves the problem of getting up and being next to your tv and ATVs are cheaper than a new TV. You could also have a charger right next to you to charge it.

  2. Max Says:

    The HDMI spec alone allows you to control other devices over a normal HDMI connection. It’s enough to at least browse menus on a PS3 etc.


    I guess the power over the cable is useful, more likely a future HDMI revision will increase the 50ma @ 5v it currently carries than this spec replaces it though.

    Hell, most TVs have a USB port. Someone (1st or 3rd party) could easily combine a HDMI and USB connector on one end of a cable with whatever pinout is needed at the devices end.

  3. Alan Strangis Says:

    Why cables at all? Many phones support DLNA, as do some TV sets. Just stream it wirelessly.

    Now, if only it were possible to stream the phone display wirelessly to a TV screen…