Mobile High-definition Link – HDMI and USB rolled into one

| February 27, 2011 | 21 Replies

One of the hidden and possibly well-ignored stories of MWC was the announcement of the Mobile High-definition Link (MHL) specification. This specification is the result of a consortium of mobile device and component manufacturers who decided that current implementations of video output on mobile devices were simply not enough. The end result is the creation of a micro-USB compatible port and associated cables that allow for the output of audio and video from the device or charging and data transfer using the SAME port.

The current MHL specification support 1080 video at 60fps alongside Dolby digital 7.1 channel surround sound. As mentioned earlier, the MHL spec supports device charging while connected to compatible devices. Devices will actually charge 2.5 times faster over MHL than they would over a standard USB connection. The limitation currently would be that you either output audio/video or data, not both at the same time.


What is even more interesting is the fact that the switch between output and regular data transfer/charging is completely automatic, only depending on detecting the voltage coming across the cable to determine device behaviour. Better still is the fact that MHL TV’s will be able to charge and control via the regular TV remote, device behavior.


The first device to be announced with a MHL compatible port is the Samsung Galaxy S II, with compatible TV’s and other devices being on track for Q2 of this year and the spec is backed by companies like Samsung, Nokia, Toshiba, Silicon Image and Sony.


Video recorded by below.


Thanks Duncan





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Category: Nokia

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  • IMarius

    oh yes Nokia i like the sound of this , sure Nokia big screen already has the software covered, just put this on a phone please.

  • Rant

    Already read something about it and this is great news. HDMI port performance but no extra port at all.

    WP7 with support for this would be nice, and it can happen since Nokia has got the priviliges to alter WP7 so perhaps they can add this functionality.

  • Cenarius

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  • mee go MAD

    its new tv’s that support it

    so it will take 2 years or more to get popular as a selling point

    • Rant

      No, current TV’s can receive the signal, but only new tv’s can charge over the connection older ones can’t.

      So as it stands now it can be aselling point just like HDMI and in two years we have an extra selling point in that you can charge via the connection as well. 🙂

  • Paulo Oliveira

    Didn’t like it…

    It’s a “must have” to support two connected devices at the same time (i.e.: tv monitor and USB hard disk)… I dont see how this can be achievable with this technology!!!

  • Antonio

    Just like Paulo Oliveira, I didn’t like it at all and I think this new port has too many shortcomings to actually be useful:

    – It is not compatible to USB OTG
    – It forbids you to connect 2 peripherals at the same time because there is only one port
    – It will need a new cable to work that is not compatible with current HDMI cables

    I seriously hope companies stop trying to put everything in the same port because otherwise we will not be able to plug more than 1 peripheral of any kind at the same time! I love the N8 because of its connectivity options, I can connect it to a HDMI-enabled TV, connect a infrared receptor for wireless mouse and keyboard on USB OTG, plug my home theater/sound system to the 3.5mm audio output and plug it to a charger on the dedicated charger plug, all at the same time. Would we be able to do this with the new technology? No, never, forget about it, only 1 connection at a time on the only port these new phones will have. Who had this “brilliant” idea? Seriously?

    • 3.5mm and MHL will still remain but I think the connectivity you refer to is a tad excessive and more a one-off than day to day usage for the majority of people, Whom these devices are more geared towards.

    • Peter

      And how often do you actually need such a setup in a real life? If this is you do frequently, you definitely are not an average user. Manufacturers have to cater to as many people as possible, not just try to please the mega-power-users.

      You could always have your mouse/keyboard connected via Bluetooth. And what for are you connecting 3.5mm audio output to your home theater if you already have a HDMI output running? If you have a home theater system, I presume you have your TV hooked to that anyway.

      • Paulo Oliveira

        I totally agree.

        But I think that average users still needs to connect ‘one external storage device + tv monitor’ at the same time!!!

        • Briago

          I’m not sure what kind of external storage device you are using with a cell phone. But you can still connect to a PC with bluetooth for file transfer.

          My ideal use is to use this port to connect to “any” TV (will have to wait probably 5 years for those tvs to be that common). Then have a bluetooth keyboard/mouse, and have an instant “PC” where ever there is a tv. The keyboard, etc has to be portable enough though…

          This would be so that I could switch to working on things like excel spreadsheets, etc that need a large screen, and lots of oddball typing like formulas (not natural for entry on a cell phone).

  • NT

    I take it you can still charge your phone while connected to your TV at the same time?

    It would not be good to run our of battery while watching/playing on HD and say “wait sorry I can’t charge my device since it is the same port connected to the TV”

    • There seems to be some misconception, it WILL charge while it’s connected to a MHL compatible television, period

  • Jagdeep

    I want to use this phone for development. I have use in classroom where i want to mirror display on 32″ LCD TV and at the same time load Programs using USB for debugging. But i think it will not be possible so i am switching to some other phone.

  • sara

    Our MHL-HDMI dongle features a 5-pin microUSB plug on one end and HDMI-A (female) on the other. This dongle connects an MHL-enabled portable device to an HDMI cable coming out of HDTV, and its small form factor makes it easy to carry around with your mobile device. This dongle features: 1080p HD video Digital audio Simultaneous charging to the mobile device TV remote access and control on mobile device Samples available for evaluation
    pls contact Ms Sara to buy,
    we have factory in China,company name Cunzheng technology

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  • Singh

    Please does anyone know wether the Nokia Lumia 800 has MHL connectivity via micro USB to the HDMI connection to TV i.e connect to internet viewing on the Big Screen.

  • Pingback: MHL koppelt mobiele apparaten aan HD monitors | 6G mobile()

  • Pekka

    Does anybody know if Nokia 701 is MHL-compatible, or will be in the future?

    Today I tried a MHL-adapter with a flatscreen in a shop, but it wasn’t recognized by the phone, on the USB-micro port.

    This is a pity, since I travel a lot between hotels, and many TV:s actually have HDMI nowadays, even in rural Thailand.

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