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. So what is MHL, and will it actually do you any good?
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.
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.
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 in the US, 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.
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 gear at CES.
[Image via MHL]