MHL: The Next Mobile Video Connection?

MHL — the Mobile High Definition Link — is positioning itself to be the next big thing to hit smartphones.

By Cliff Roth

Page 1 of 1
Video/Imaging DesignWire
(4/27/2010 1:44:24 AM)

MHL — the Mobile High Definition Link — is positioning itself to be the next big thing to hit smartphones and portable media devices, including digital cameras. The organization has just released an “abridged” version of the MHL 1.0 spec — the full version is scheduled to be completed by June.

“From small screen to big screen,” is the connection’s motto, said Barry McAuliffe, president of the MHL Consortium in a recent briefing on the new spec. With five very heavyweight founding companies behind it — Sony, Samsung, Silicon Image, Toshiba, and Nokia — and with over a billion smartphones expected to be in operation by 2014, this new connector is sure to gain traction.

Compared to the mini-sized HDMI connectors, MHL has a lot going for it. First, the pin count is reduced to just 5 pins (as opposed to 19 for HDMI). Second, MHL includes power charging: Hook up your phone to a TV, and while watching photos or videos you shot, or even movies stored on the device (HDCP content protection is included, to make Hollywood happy) it is also going to be charged up.

Perhaps best of all, in terms of widespread adoption, is the fact that adapter devices can be readily made to convert MHL to HDMI. This means consumers won’t have to run out and buy a new TV set just to hook up their smartphone or media player.

Silicon Image will undoubtedly be first with silicon that’s available to non-founding companies (sound familiar?), but once the spec is out the MHL Consortium says any vendor can license it. The abridged spec is available now for any company that’s willing to pay the nominal fee ($100) to join the consortium.