MHL Can Be A Game-changer In Mobile

by Sohini Bagchi    Feb 05, 2015


In recent times, various technologies, such as Miracast, MHL and OTG have been developed in order to aid users access their smart device better. Mobile High-definition Link or MHL is one such technology garnering a lot of attention of late. MHL technology allows you to connect your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device to TVs, monitors, projectors, in-dash automotive displays, audio-video receivers (AVRs), and more with a rapidly expanding ecosystem of over 750 million MHL devices on the market. Developed by Silicon Image as one of the Founders of MHL Consortium (along with Nokia, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba), MHL technology can transmit 4K (UHD) video and enhanced surround audio while simultaneously providing power to the mobile device. In a recent conversation with CXOtoday, Vipin Sawhney, Country Manager, Silicon Image throws light on the trends and future of MHL technology alongside the company’s plans in this area.

How do you see consumer adoption of MHL in India and what are your plans?

First, many of the leading smartphones from Samsung and Sony and HDTV brands in India, such as Sony, Samsung, LG and Toshiba, support MHL today.  In addition, multiple retail channels in India are already carrying MHL compatible products and accessories and we’re working on expanding the retail footprint.  Finally, by working (either directly or via strategic partnerships) with some of the leading Indian mobile phone companies, we’re expanding the penetration of MHL into mid-range phones as well as into additional high-end Android devices.

How do you see the MHL technology evolving in next couple of years? Which products in India have MHL? 

The MHL Consortium is made up of companies that are leaders in the mobile and CE space. The goal of each specification is to deliver a set of features that enable companies to stay ahead of the industry curve, forecasting the future needs of consumers.

At CES 2015, MHL also released its latest specification, superMHL. superMHL delivers significant mobile advancements such as higher resolution and frame rates along with 40W of power charging, while broadening MHL’s reach in home theater connectivity by supporting 8K video resolution and expanded audio formats. With superMHL, consumers can link their mobile devices, set-top boxes (STBs), Blu-ray Disc players, AVRs, streaming media sticks and other source devices to TVs and displays. The release of a new reversible superMHL connector supports enhanced video formats to deliver lifelike, immersive content between home theater products and displays.

Many of the leading mobile phones in India are MHL-enabled, including the Samsung Galaxy S series up to the Galaxy S5, the Galaxy Note Series, and the Sony Xperia series, as well as the leading HDTV brands, such as Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and LG.

Why is MHL not wireless? Are there any plans for this technology to be available wireless?

MHL was developed as a wired technology optimized for mobile devices, with one of the primary features being the ability to charge the mobile device when connected to a larger display.  MHL is also connector agnostic so that it can repurpose existing connectors both on the source (i.e., mobile device) and sink (i.e., display) sides.  This saves OEMs money by not having to add a new connector. 

MHL will continue to be a wired interface standard, but co-exists with other wireless technologies such as WirelessHD, as we believe there are certain applications which are more suitable for a wired connection, while other applications may call for a wireless connection.  A good example of this is wired Ethernet vs. wireless on PCs.

How is it expected to change the mobile experience?

MHL technology is optimized for mobile and sends uncompressed, Ultra High-Definition (UHD) video and up to 8 channels of surround sound audio from an MHL smartphone or tablet to any TV, monitor or display, all while charging the device. Once connected, consumers can use the TV’s remote control to navigate apps, games, music and photos. With MHL, smartphones and tablets can be transformed into game consoles, home entertainment systems, PCs and more.

How, according to you, will MHL impact other technologies currently in the market? Do you think it can emerge as the next game changer?

When MHL released its first specification, it started with a simple idea of connecting a phone to a TV. This has now evolved into an advanced world of connectivity. MHL’s product ecosystem has rapidly grown and the use cases continue to expand, making MHL the world’s most widely adopted mobile TV-out standard and the de-facto connectivity between mobile and consumer electronics products.

MHL has also achieved broader adoption in areas such as India where smartphone shipments are rapidly accelerating. In these markets, consumers want more out of their smartphones – taking them beyond communication devices and transforming them into gaming consoles, powerful PCs and entertainment systems. The ability to connect a smartphone or tablet to the big screen to display photos and videos, play games or use productivity applications is a compelling value proposition, which continues to expand the adoption of MHL in emerging markets.

Do you think there is the need for another connectivity standard? Would it not confuse consumers who already cannot really fathom things like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi direct?

Yes, absolutely because Bluetooth addresses wireless audio/HID and Wi-Fi is primarily a wireless data interface. Although there have been implementations of video over Wi-Fi, the technology is not robust with poor video quality, which has led to disappointed consumers. This is why we see growth in MHL adoption from mobile, CE, and automotive OEMs because it provides a guaranteed/best-in-class experience to consumers.

MHL technology is optimized for mobile and it allows you to send uncompressed high definition video and up to 8 channels of surround sound from your MHL smartphone or tablet to any digital TV or display, all while charging your device. Once connected, you can use the TV’s remote control to navigate all your favourite apps, games, music and photos. MHL technology is aimed at simplifying people’s lives. Also, the success of the MHL specification is due in part to it being a connector agnostic specification, which seamlessly delivers audio, video, data, and power over a single connector. The specification enables companies to leverage popular connectors already present on many mobile devices and displays, including Micro-USB and HDMI Type A, while also supporting proprietary connectors.