MHL-enabled devices allow users to play content from their mobile devices on a much larger screen, without loss of quality

One of the most dramatic consequences of the explosive growth of mobile telephony in the last decade has been its impact on gaming. And, the rapid mainstreaming of smartphones and tablets, which almost by definition are equipped with better data processing capabilities, has resulted in the marginalisation of dedicated gaming devices. In short, mobile devices have become the console of choice for avid gamers.

But as handsets have become more powerful, gamers too have become more demanding in terms of the need for a more ‘immersive experience’, in which visual and audio effects are critical.

Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), a consortium in which leading device manufacturers are participants, has, since its formation in April 2010, developed the standards that enable mobile devices to ‘mirror’ content on HDMI-enabled television screens, says Michael Bergen, senior partner alliance manager, MHL.

MHL has developed the standards that enable the use of an adapter that acts as an interface between the user’s device and an HDMI-enabled TV. It was founded by Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Silicon Image.

What MHL can do

Currently, more than 220 million products have the capability to reflect high-definition quality pictures on the large screen, while simultaneously delivering lossless 8-channel audio (that is, without any compression as is with mp3 format, for instance). This is done by plugging “MHL-enabled” devices to the TV and using the TV remote to control the device.

In fact, the enabled devices can do much more. They allow users not just to play music and videos from their mobile devices on a much larger screen without any loss of quality, but also to use the TV to continue working on the files they carry on their mobile devices. “You can use the hotel’s TV screen and, with the aid of a wireless keyboard, edit your work without having to carry a computer,” explains Mr. Bergen.

Games people play

The dynamics of gaming — how and when games are played — says Bergen, are such that this is not a trivial issue. According to MHL, nearly half the time spent gaming on mobile devices occurs from users’ homes. Further, 96 per cent of gamers play games on their mobile devices at home.

Even more important is the fact that more than half of the global in-home mobile gamers play at least for an hour at a time; almost one-third of these gamers end up playing for three hours or more. Clearly, the ‘immersive experience,’ created by the real life experience of visuals and sound is key to keep them hooked for longer.

This is not a trivial matter, observes Bergen, because the advertisements that appear even as the user is playing a game is the main source of revenue for game developers.

Mobile gaming revenues in 2012 were 62 per cent higher than revenues from gaming devices promoted by Nintendo and Sony.

Mr. Bergen said the drivers for the MHL devices are based on open source software. He said the consortium’s main source of revenue is the annual membership fee of $10,000 and a “small royalty” that device makers contribute.