Do You Really Need HDMI-Out On Your Device?

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I’ve got a smartphone (a couple of them). I’ve got a tablet (a couple those, too). I’ve even gone through more than a few smart watches (though I’m not wearing one now while I wait for the Pebble). I consider myself a “power-user” when it comes to mobile devices. As such, I tend to do more with my devices than the Average Joe, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Would you like to know how many times I’ve hooked my smartphone (or even my tablet) up to my TV or monitor? Three. No, not three times today, or even this week.

One of those times I was testing out an OnLap monitor, another was when I tested the Samsung HDMI adapter, and the third was when I wanted to show my family something from my phone. That’s it.¬†Three times, total.

My experiences notwithstanding, Video-out is a fairly powerful tool. You can share your content with several people (or an entire room full of people) at the same time, with the right accessories you can essentially turn your phone or tablet into a full-featured computer, and you can watch videos on a much larger screen with much better sound than on a smartphone or tablet. Why wouldn’t you want to connect to a bigger screen?

I’m sure that others have used their HDMI ports much more than I have, but it’s got me wondering: since it’s so “cool” to get your content from the small screen of a smartphone or tablet up onto a big screen, why don’t we do it more often?

Cables

HDMI connectors come in several varieties from “standard” to small and even tiny. Some HDMI ports even double as microUSB ports (or is it the other way around?). Although your big-screen TV might have a spare port, do you have the right cable or adapter to plug into it?

At my house I have two Galaxy Nexii (which require a special HDMI adapter), a Galaxy Tab 7.7 (which requires a different kind of HDMI adapter), and a Motorola Xoom (which takes an HDMI cable with an extra-small connector). I can’t connect any of the devices to our TV without a special cable or adapter. That’s problem numero uno.

Even if I had all the cables (I have two of the three from the scenario mentioned above), it wouldn’t really matter. I’d still need a cable. If I’m at my house, that’s not a big deal, I just have to hunt through the mysterious and magical “cable drawer” until I find the right one (then spend the next ten minutes untangling it). If I’m somewhere else I’ll need to bring some cables with me. Not cool. Problem numero dos.

Why do we need cables at all?

Have you ever seen someone whip out their iPad or iPhone, and almost instantly (and without wireless) the contents of their screen is up on the big screen hanging on the wall. Sorcery, you say? Nay: technology!

Apple “gets” the whole “without wires” thing, and they eve n figured out how to capitalize on it! All you’ve got to do is buy another Apple product (Apple TV) and hook it up to your TV. As long as both Apple devices are present and connected to the same network (wired or wireless), you can send what’s on your small screen up onto the big screen. Pretty cool, eh?

(There are some Air Play apps that let you hook your Android up to your big-screen through your Apple TV, but that’s a topic of another article.)

But what of Windows Phone and Android? Depending on your device you might have DLNA, which is essentially the “generic” version of Apple’s Air Play. This setup requires that you have a DLNA-enabled TV or monitor (preferably with WiFi embedded in it) to wirelessly catch your streaming audio/video signal. Needless today, the number of such TVs that can do this is somewhat slim, and it’s easier to buy an Apple TV box and hook it up to a pre-existing TV than it is to get a new TV with WiFi and DLNA built-in.

Even after all that has been said, given the choice I’d still go the wireless route, which gives me the answer I’m looking for: no, I don’t need HDMI in my devices (but I would very much like WiFi and DLNA in my screens!).

So there you have my answer, and my reasoning. What about you? Let us know in the comments!

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.