Yet another reason not to buy a Smart or Internet Ready TV: MHL

Some time ago I wrote about why I would never buy a smart TV. In a nutshell, I  believe that  the “smart part” will become obsolete, and  shouldn’t be integrated into the appliance whose main job is as a display.

Well great minds think alike. Roku product managers see it the same way and have developed something called the “Roku Streaming Stick”. This “stick” looks like a USB thumb-drive and plugs into the “MHL” port on the back of select TV’s. The Roku stick isn’t available yet but looks like it will be here before Christmas.

So what is MHL? MHL stands for Mobile High-Definition Link, and will consist of a port on your TV that looks like an HDMI port. Only it’s made specifically for connecting devices like Roku and mobile phones to your TV. It’s handy too because it will power your device at the same time it streams.

The people behind MHL include the big manufacturers of TV’s and smart phones, e.g. Nokia, Samsung, and Sony. There is one player noticeably absent:  Apple! I guess they still want you to buy an Apple TV device.

 Update Dec 2012:  The Roku Streaming Stick is available as promised. Interesting that I see the Streaming Stick  on Amazon and the Roku site for $99.  This looks like a bit of an early adopter toy at present. Heed the warning about needing a Roku ready device. A small set at this time.

In fact the ONLY TV I see from this list actually available today is market  is the Insignia at Best Buy. The others don’t show up in Amazon or anywhere else when I search. Let me know if you plan on using MHL this year. maybe it’s a 2013 thing.


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3 Responses to Yet another reason not to buy a Smart or Internet Ready TV: MHL

  1. len says:

    I guess this is supposed to provide extensivle smartness. I can see why they did it. These have to be less expensive to produce that the Roku 2s and it’s a cool feature for manufacturers to sell. I’ll bet these are given away with televisions that support the feature. I wonder how long before Roku starts licensing their software directly to the manufacturers.

    For consumers, I do not see the value. For less money, one can purchase a Roku XS with a usb port that can be used with most televisions — I can run movies off an attached disk and bring both camping!

    For about half the cost of a Roku stick, you can buy an MK808 Android Tv Stick. If, for another $50, someone bundled this with Plex Media Center (which is open source) and the Boxee remote, people would quickly forget about the Roku Streaming Stick (IMHO).

    Until that happens, there is the FAVI smart stick and Keyboard/mouse. I’m not kidding — visit http://www.favientertainment.com to what I am so excited about.

    This isn’t ready for prime time yet. Like the simple.tv, you would probably be wise to sit on the sidelines for a bit, but I suspect opensource developers will have a field day with this and I want to play.

    • Greg says:

      What I see as at least a major convenience is not so much just the Roku stick but the MHL port. This allows you to plug in your mobile phone with just one cable and it charges over that same connection. I’d rather see this happen with existing HDMI but I guess that’s not easily done. Read the FAQ below from the MHL Consortium

      5. Why is an additional connectivity solution needed, and don’t connectors already offer these capabilities?

      The MHL specification is optimized specifically for mobile phones and portable devices by providing power charging to the mobile device while in use and also enabling the DTV remote to control the mobile device.

      http://www.mhlconsortium.org/about/FAQs.aspx

  2. len says:

    I get MHL. I probably posted in the wrong place as I started typing at the end of linked messages without really thinking about how someone might otherwise find the post.

    Like you, I would not replace a set or even pay a premium for a smart TV. I’m very happy to plug in my TV’s smartness via a Roku, SMP, or BD player.

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