Most schools restrict the use of smartphones on school grounds to keep the student body’s limited attention span on the lesson at hand and reduce the temptation to cheat on exams. But, what about embracing the phone as the next step in teaching? It could end up that smartphones, which many students and teachers already have, are the ultimate in Bring Your Own Device technology.
But, how do you go about getting a lesson out of a phone and onto the big screen for the whole class to see? While some phones have an HDMI port built-in, it can make for a thick and heavy device. That’s where the Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) comes in. It’s a small adapter that can turn many smart phones into lean screen machines by sending an HD audio-video signal to a projector, large screen monitor or TV.
At the moment MHL works with about 30 phones, and the current version of the spec can be used with just about any TV or projector that has an HDMI port. The good news is that it doesn’t require any special software at either end and can put everything from a Web site to a YouTube video to an Acrobat file on the big screen.
Accell’s MHL to HDMI Audio/Video Adapter is tiny and uses the current version 1.1 of the MHL protocol as well as the high-speed HDMI specification. About the size of a memory key, it’s a marvel of miniaturization. In fact, at times it’s so small that it’s too easy to lose or leave on a desk after class.
The adapter relies on the phone’s microUSB connector and works with many Android smartphones on the market. It won’t work with an iPhone, which lacks the needed USB port, or a Samsung Galaxy S III, which uses its own plug and requires a specialized cable, but is classroom-ready for many tablets. A word of advice: MHL technology is so new that you should do your homework and make sure it’ll work with your gear before you buy.
To get it the Accell MHL adapter to work, plug it into the phone and the classroom projector and then power it on. The chances are that you can use the AC adapter that came with your phone or a generic USB adapter. Finally, set the projector , TV or monitor that you’re using to display the HDMI input. In a second or two what’s on the phone’s screen is projected for the class to see.
Along with an LG Nitro Android phone, I used the adapter with Dell’s S500wi, Epson’s X15 projectors as well as an LG LV4400 47-inch TV. The adapter produced surprisingly strong video and audio from such a small device. It delivered perfect sound synchronization and images that were free of static. The video is shown both on the phone and on the projector, making navigation a snap.
With a two-year warranty and a 6-foot HDMI cable, Accell’s MHL to HDMI $30 adapter is a bargain that can turn a phone into a teaching tool. The best part is that rather than packing up a notebook or tablet for the move to the next classroom, all teachers have to do is unplug their phone, put it in their pocket and leave.
Accell’s MHL to HDMI Audio/Video Adapter with HDMI Cable
+ Sends audio and video to projector or monitor
+ Small and light
+ Excellent image and audio
+ Includes HDMI cable
- Requires AC power
- Too easy to lose