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What is MHL, and why should you care?

Recently, I received a new product introduction for a MHL-HD adapter from one of our suppliers of audio video devices. The first thing I thought was oh no, another acronym to remember. One thing about the Data-Com /AV industries is they love acronyms; it’s almost like being back in the Navy. MHL stands for Mobile High-definition Link, and it's a standard devised by a group of companies—including Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba—that wanted a specification that could be used to connect smart phones, tablets, and other devices to an HDTV. MHL supports 1080p video as well as 7.1-channel digital multi-channel audio, so it's an easy way to send high-definition videos from your portable device to your big-screen TV. This is a great technology for anyone out there that needs to do presentation on the road. Instead of using a laptop you can easily use your pad device or smartphone. It’s certainly a lot less bulk that you have to drag around through airports. Yes, there are other technologies that can do that but MHL adds a few cool new tricks. One is that it sends control data through the same cable, so you can control the portable device using your TV's remote. The other is that the cable provides power, so you won't drain your portable device's battery while the media is playing. If you have a smart phone that supports MHL, many newer phones do and an MHL-supported TV, then the quickest route to trying this new technology is to get an MHL adapter cable, which has a MicroUSB connector on one side and an HMDI slot on the other. Just connect the MicroUSB connector to your phone, then run an HDMI cable from your TV's input to the HDMI slot on the adapter. No additional gear is needed. But even if you don't have an MHL-enabled TV, you can still watch content from your phone. Many MHL adapters have an additional port where you can plug in your portable device's MicroUSB charger so it won't power down. (Some may use a separate charging dongle attached to the adapter.) But you likely won't get the remote-control functionality. Many of the MHL-HD adapters also come with a 5 pin to 11pin USB adapter in order to work with a wide array of mobile devices. Check out the latest one we offer: