Sceptre has announced its 2013 LCD TV line, with several models including an MHL connection. Now, normally, Sceptre isn’t a TV brand we get overly excited about — it’s definitely a budget line, with performance to match — but the MHL inclusion gets them a pass.
Why, you ask? MHL, or Mobile High-Definition Link, is a cable standard aimed at getting your mobile device hooked up to your TV, and it’s what got our attention here. In a world of wireless, MHL aims to tether your device, but offer enough extras to make it worth it.
High-def video? Check.
7.1 audio? Check.
Charge while playing? Check.
CEC device control? Check.
MHL is a great standard, but what isn’t standard is what causes issues. The MHL spec does not dictate a connector type like standards such as HDMI or USB. And therein lies the rub. Anyone in the smartphone space knows the storm that Samsung created by using a different, 11-pin MHL connector when they released the Galaxy S III, instead of the more prevalent 5-pin, micro-USB based connector. They did nothing wrong in terms of the MHL spec, but made pretty much every other MHL branded cable useless with the S III. The plus side to MHL is that it is easily adapted to HDMI and pretty much any connector that has at least 5 pins.
Anyway, back to Sceptre and its new TVs.
The 2013 LCD TV line includes models ranging from 32- to 58-inches, with LED backlighting. Specs aren’t terribly important here, as these TV’s likely aren’t going to appeal to videophiles, but they do offer good value. There are currently several models incorporating MHL, including a 32- and 47-inch models.
The story though, if you haven’t picked up on it, is that MHL has trickled down from the stratosphere of high-end video displays and AV receivers, into the realm of affordable, not-for-your-high-end-media-room range. Does this mean MHL will take? Only time will tell, but it’s a good sign. While we may not need more cable standards in the year 2013, this is one that makes sense for some people. Sure you can buy an Apple TV for $99, and stream your iPhone via AirPlay to your heart’s content, but at some point, you’ll need to charge it. For some shoppers, buying a $10-15 cable that both plays your stuff and charges your phone through a port that’s already on your TV might be a better value. (Note: I’m not one of those people. But I can see the appeal.) If nothing else, when your buddy comes over and wants to throw something up on your TV, this is easier than giving them access to the holy grail of your home’s Wi-Fi passkey.
There lots of hypotheticals there, but the bottom line is that whenever a nifty tech idea starts to trickle down, it’s a good thing. And let’s not forget, for all you Roku fans out there, that the Streaming Stick requires an MHL port.