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January 4th 2012 2:49 pm

The new Roku stick requires a tv built with MHL. WTF is MHL?

Who's in the market for a new HDTV? Not me, that's for sure. After hearing that this will likely only be useful for people with tvs that have come out very recently I think it's a bummer. I guess this is how Roku gets out of the set top box market--because if it doesn't look like a set top box, but it plays like a set top box and smells like a set top box, maybe it isn't a set top box? Because, you know, people hate set top boxes.

I agree that buying a Smart TV isn't a good decision with how fast all these technologies move and how you have to choose your products by the company with the licensing deals/UI experience you want. Example. I have more faith in a Sony Bravia Smart Tv than a Toshiba Smart Tv or a Vizio smart tv. Why? I'm not sure exactly, but Sony has other products like the PS3, PSP, computers, tablets, etc where a UI is important and inter connectivity is a bonus.

So the move to a dongle makes sense because you can easily buy a new dongle every year that includes the newest channels or whatever, but buying a new TV for a $100 software upgrade is not a good idea. People who buy a Roku have no use for a console on said TV and this is an opportunity for people to buy this and maybe use it on vacation or use it on business trips so I love that aspect theoretically. However, assuming that the MHL is going to be everywhere in the next year or so could be a huge oversight, leading to being able to carry around a device---that doesn't work where you want it and the reason you bought it. Netflix is going global so being able to carry this into foreign countries without taking up too much space in luggage and not having to worry about an HDMI cord or power cord is awesome and has a lot of selling power.

But, and it's a big ol' but, is this dongle going to work with most HDTVs? Are any manufacturers not going to adopt it? Are there people out there who haven't already bought an HDTV? Obviously the last question is bunk, but the price of HDTVs falling shows that people are buying them and stores are just trying to move 'em out.

How much of a bitch is it going to be to get the internet to connect to this thing? On the road it can be a pain just to connect to a wifi network. Maybe this is another reason to buy a mobile hotspot? Or showing us that if our phones can be used as a hotspot it's definitely worth the price? It seems too good to be true is that I'm saying. For dorms/short term apts it's a slam dunk, well, only because prices on HDTVs are so cheap now. This is obviously a product depending on MHL and we'll see if a competing tech shows up, sorta like USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt.

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Roku is ahead of the curve, hoping that the industry will eventually catch up to the MHL standard. It's a risky move, but could pay off if the standard gets wide adoption.

Wikipedia has this to say, in case you want to learn more about MHL:
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