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By: Joseph D. Cornwall, CTS-D
Technology Evangelist — C2G

Technical lingo is a kind of shorthand that's used to express concepts common to that specific topic or area of study. Technical lingo is important because it provides a very precise or unique "shorthand" description of a device, effect or concept. Unfortunately, if you aren't comfortable and familiar with the lingo of a topic it can be a tall hurdle to communicate efficiently with folks who consider the jargon of their field to be "self-explanatory." In this series of articles we'll lift the veils of misunderstanding from the lingo of the A/V industry.


Dr. Martin Cooper of the Motorola Corporation made the first recorded call using technology that would later become the ubiquitous cell phone in April of 1973. By 1977, AT&T and Bell Labs had constructed a prototype cellular system. A year later, public trials of the new system were started in Chicago. Ten short years later, in 1987, the community of cell phone users would break the 1 million mark. Today there are an estimated 6.8 billion cell phones in use worldwide. Indeed, there are more people on this planet who have access to cell phones than there are who have access to modern toilets!

With all this cellular mobility, one area ripe for change is the integration of cellular and mobile devices into fixed A/V installations. Up until now, the idea of watching content on a large TV that is sourced from a cellular device has been largely untapped. At the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Silicon Image demonstrated the first generation of a system called "Mobile High Definition Link," the technology that would ultimately be the basis for MHL. The MHL Consortium was founded in April 2010 by Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony and Toshiba, and the 1.0 standard was released in June of 2010. By May of 2011, the first MHL enabled products began to make headway into the marketplace.

MHL is a TMDS-based protocol that allows a mobile device to interface with a modern projector or flat panel display by using an HDMI connector (but not using an HDMI signal). The latest specification (3.0) allows a cell phone or tablet to deliver Ultra HD video (up to 3840 x 2160 @ 30fps) and 7.1 channel surround sound to a display, offers support for peripherals like a keyboard or mouse to control the device, and can even recharge the battery of the device as it is being used!

Today there is an installed base of more than 330 million MHL-enabled products from more than 200 adopters, including cell phones and tablets, AVRs, DVD players, laptop docks, displays and projectors in use. MHL market penetration is expected to grow to more than 1.2 billion devices by 2016!

To see if your cell phone, flat panel display or A/V switch is MHL compliant, go to this list of MHL-enabled products.

This white paper is for informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. C2G makes no guarantees, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information found in this document.