It is great to see HTC spending resources to improve their camera and media experiences and one useful accessory that I recommend you consider is the new HTC Media Link HD. I took a look at the previous HTC Media Link product, but it was quite limited and you could never find it in stock anywhere. The new HTC Media Link HD is available now from places such as AT&T and offers a complete and enjoyable media experience.
You can check out several photos of the Media Link HD along with some images of different scenarios I tested out in my image gallery.
In the box and first impressions
The HTC Media Link HD is available from AT&T for $90 and comes in a retail package showing off content on a TV with the three-finger swipe action (will be discussed below). Inside you will find everything you need to use the device with your HTC One X or One S, including a USB cable, USB wall charger, HDMI cable, mount for Media Link HD, User Guide, and the HTC Media Link HD unit.
The HTC Media Link HD is about the size of a lighter and weighs just a few ounces. It has the HTC logo on it and appears to be well constructed of plastic materials.
Specifications for the HTC Media Link HD include the following:
- microUSB port for power
- HDMI port for display output
- 801.11 a/b/g/n WiFi radio
- Dimensions of 84 x 52 x 12.2 mm
- Supported video formats: AVI, MP4, MOV, 3GP, MKV, H.264 BP/MP/HP
- Supported audio formats: MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC
- Supported image format: JPG
There is no integrated battery so you will need to use the included power cable to keep the device powered up for usage. The microUSB and HDMI ports are both on the bottom with the push button configuration button located on the top. The front and sides are glossy black plastic while the back has a black matte finish.
Setup and connection
The default setup for the Media Link HD is to connect it to your home WiFi router and then through that to your supported HTC One device. You can also connect via an ad-hoc WiFi connection without going through the router, which is helpful when traveling or when you are visiting someone's house who may not have WiFi or doesn't want to share their connection with you.
You simply plug in the Media Link HD to the power cable, plug in the HDMI cable to the display, and then press the configuration button on top of the Media Link HD. You can also go to Settings>More>Media Link HD on your HTC One device to let the software configure the connection.
After the configuration wizard runs you should see an animation directing you to perform the three finger swipe up on your HTC One device to make the connection. You can also make the connection by tapping the button in the notification area, enabled by default. That's it, you are now connected and able to enjoy content either streamed to the Media Link HD or with mirror mode. Mirror mode is not supported on all devices, including the HTC One V.
You can also disconnect your HTC One device by performing the three finger swipe in a downward motion. Remember if you are in mirror mode with the display in landscape orientation then you need to swipe down in landscape too.
Experiences enjoying media content
For some selected content, such as movies rented or purchased via Google Play or HTC Watch and music streamed from provider such as Slacker Radio, you can have the content play on your TV or large display and then go about using your HTC One device for other tasks. I enjoy streaming movies and then using my phone to also check email and perform some other tasks.
The mirror mode can be used to output everything you see on your phone to the large display. Keep in mind that mirror mode puts the home screen into landscape orientation, along with most applications. Some applications do not support mirror mode so your experience will depend on the apps. I thought it was fun to play Angry Birds Space via mirror mode so the family could watch how I did while I played it on the display.
I took the HTC Media Link HD to my mother-in-laws house last weekend to show her the photos and videos my family captured of me playing in a rugby tournament and think the easy ability to share content you capture on these high end smartphones is worth the price of the Media Link HD unit. Too often people capture content and never get the chance to easily share it. You also do not need to have a TV with DLNA or anything other than a simple HDMI port.
I travel one or two times a month and plan to take the HTC Media Link HD and the HDMI cable with me for enjoying content that is much less expensive to rent on HTC Watch or Google Play than via the hotel movie service. Most every hotel I have stayed in over the past year has had HDMI ports so it should be great to display my HTC One X content onto the big screen.
I noticed a bit of lag at times with an early eval unit of the HTC Media Link HD, but HTC sent out an updated unit with newer phone software and it has worked flawlessly since then. The HTC Media Link HD has actually encouraged me to use the HTC Watch service more often as it is an easy way to take movies on the go and enjoy them on a screen larger than what is found just on the phone.
UPDATE: I had one person comment that they could not view rented movies from HTC Watch on the new Media Link HD. This weekend I rented a movie and verified that it does work, but can be a bit problematic at times. Instead of connecting to the Media Link HD, then launching HTC Watch, then playing the movie I found it seemed to work more reliably by launching HTC Watch and then after tapping to play the movie acknowledge the pop-up that appears to connect and play via the Media Link HD. I confirmed you can view movies you rent via HTC Watch and Google Play and haven't found any limitations yet.
Pricing and availability
You can find the HTC Media Link HD at AT&T online for $90. I haven't seen it other places yet, but hope HTC does a better job this time of getting it into retail channels so that people can enjoy the experience.
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