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Bringing Your Smartphone to the Big Screen

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by Lori Cunningham  (@wellconnectdmom)

source: Amazon.com

 

Cellphones nowadays are used for so many things, but one of their handiest features…besides using them to call people…is to take pictures.  I use my camera all the time to take pictures of my kids playing in the yard, my son bored at the store, my husband hanging up Christmas lights…you name it.   But how often do I download my camera pictures so I can show the pictures on my bigger screen…the computer?  Well, hardly ever.

When you have pictures you want to share with the family or while at a party, ideally, it would be great to have a bigger screen.  There are options to do this, but most involve getting pictures from the cloud or carrying around equipment with you.  A consortium of large companies recognized the need for an inexpensive way to be able to view your pictures…and other things on your camera…on a TV so that your pictures can be more social.

The MHL Consortium was created over two years ago to develop a new technology standard to connect smartphones, tablets, and other devices to TV’s, projectors, monitors, Blue-Ray Disc players, AV Receivers, and more.  This standard became MHL and it allows the smaller screen of a device to be enlarged and viewed on a larger screen.  Many of the largest technology manufacturers are on board including  Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony and Toshiba.

“With so much media trapped on different connected devices in the home today, consumers are looking for a simple way to quickly share a photo, movie or song with other family members,” said Colin Dixon, senior partner, The Diffusion Group.

MHL, never heard of it, huh?  That’s OK, it’s already incorporated in products under different brand names that you may even already own.  Last year, over 50 million MHL products shipped globally.  The number is expected to increase to 200 million products shipped by the end of this year.

 

How Does it Work?

                

 

The MHL adapter is used with a HDMI cable (that you supply), plugged into your TV.  You then plug in the MHL cable directly into you smartphone.  Change the source on your TV, turn on your phone, and you will see whatever is on your smartphone directly on the TV.  As you scroll through the different apps or pictures, you can see the images being scrolled on the TV as well.
      Now you can share Facebook, twitter, your camera pictures, games, whatever with a larger audience.  Looking at pictures on a phone is tiring after awhile, but with MHL, you can set up a slide show on your phone which shows on the TV.  Perfect.

MHL technology does not interfere with the data transmission in any way.  It delivers 1080p uncompressed video and up to 8 channels of digital audio.  This means you can watch HD videos, play games, or give a presentation on the TV directly from your phone.  Or, you can even do live footage on your TV.  n the picture above, I am taking live video of myself.  See my phone in the lower left-hand corner (it’s shooting video)?  I’m taking live video of myself on my TV, and took a picture of myself on the TV with my Galaxy Camera in the upper left hand corner.

You can make things really interesting at a party with live video on your TV!  Or think about the fun your kids would having seeing themselves on TV as they perform?  There are all kinds of possibilities for the MHL adapter.

 

There is also an opportunity to charge your phone while using the MHL by an extra outlet on the adapter that lets you plug in your micro USB adapter, with a power plug going to your wall outlet.  I’ve read that you can also control your phone content on your TV using your TV’s remote control, but I could not get that to work unfortunately.   I’m sure with a MHL enabled TV, it would work.  Find out if you have a MHL TV or device.

 

Features

  • Uncompressed 1080p HD video and 7.1 digital audio to the big screen
  • Plays your smartphone slide shows on your TV
  • Play smartphone games on your TV with no latency
  • Uses existing and popular connectors (ie HDMI cables)

 

Pro’s:

  • Provides a direct link to your TV – you do not need to rely on a wireless signal, which is often faulty and lags in the transmission
  • There is no latency which means whatever you do on your smartphone immediately shows on the TV
  • Full audio is transferred to your TV, the sound is beautiful, not staticky.
  • Seeing your apps, pictures, music, movies, etc. on the big screen makes your smartphone media larger than life and much more enjoyable
  • The cost of a MHL adaptor is not much, roughly $10-$20

 

Con’s:

  • If you don’t have a plug nearby, your phone battery will drain using the adapter (not so with the MHL cable)
  • If you don’t keep moving things on your phone or play a slide show, your phone turns off and so does your display on your TV
  • You need to have a HDMI cable handy to use the adapter
  • Not all smartphones support MHL and one MHL cable will not support all – you need to get the specific one for your phone or device

 

Where to Buy

MHL adapters and cables can be purchased online at numerous places.  Check out Google for places to buy.  Best Buy recently announced that they will be carrying a complete line of MHL products manufactured by Rocketfish, though the prices for the cables are much more pricey.

 

Is Your Phone MHL Enabled?

Most Android phones are, but to be sure, visit the MeetMHL.com website and scan the QR code on the right with your device to find out.  I found out that my HTC Sense is MHL enabled, but my new Galaxy Camera is not.

 

A Mom’s Perspective

I can see so many possibilities for a MHL adapter in my life.  In fact, last week we had a season end girls basketball party at our house.  I have a great connected TV, but I could not get it to connect to my PC for the life of me.  So I wasn’t able to show any of the basketball pictures from the season.  Then it hit me, I could hook up my phone with the MHL cable to show the pictures I had on my phone.  The moms loved it and sat around our family room to see the pictures.

After the slide show, I began taking pictures of the girls having fun in our backyard then hooked up my phone once again to the TV with the MHL cable.  The girls loved watching themselves on the big screen and I loved how simple and easy it was to get pictures up right away.

I’m also excited about the possibility of using my MHL cable and a HDMI cable with me on the road with my family.  If the TV in the hotel we’re staying at has an HDMI port, we can watch the day’s pictures from my phone right on the TV.  Or even better, I can stream YouTube or Netflix videos directly to the TV.  Have you ever tried watching videos from your laptop in a hotel room?  Hotels don’t allow you access because of the demands on their broadband.  But if you could watch the videos from your phone on your TV, you bypass their broadband and use your mobile data.  What a relief when traveling with kids.  Now they can watch their shows on the road.  My kids often get so frustrated with having to watch commercials in a hotel room.  They keep asking us to fast forward through them!

 

 

 

*  I was sent a MHL adapter for purposes of review.  All opinions are my own.



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