Throwing media from your television is relatively easy thanks the the variety of streaming options out there, but throwing media from an Android smartphone at a non-smart TV gets tough sometimes. Thankfully, HTC has you covered with its Media Link.
What Is It?
A tiny, pocket-sized rectangle emblazoned with the HTC logo that lets you stream content from your Android device to an HDMI-in compatible television. Think the size of a scotch finger biscuit and you're there.
It's cute, it's portable and it's easy to get going from a hardware perspective. Power plug goes into the wall, HDMI goes into your TV and you're ready.
When you can get it going in terms of the software (we'll get to that), it's a top device. It doesn't just pick up the media content you're playing, it mirrors your Android device's display to your TV. That's handy for everything from photo slideshows, showing presentations and watching movies. It's the closest thing Android has to AirPlay.
It sets up its own Wi-Fi network to pair with your device, rather than having to pray there's one in the hotel you're going to. It doesn't make it any easier to pair, but it sure is nifty to see HTC thinking ahead.
The Media Link takes forever to pair. You'd think that teaming a smartphone to a Wi-Fi network would be the simplest thing in the world. Not so with the Media Link. I tried 11 times to get it going and each time it either froze, wouldn't respond or dropped out of pairing mode. What a debacle.
Once you do get it paired, you realise the extent of the problem you'll have with this device if you're a pirate. The Media Link will certainly play content like DivX, downloaded AVIs and MKVs, but the audio is a pitch down, slow and slightly out of sync. It's like everyone has been hit over the head with a brick following a night of heavy drinking.
Legally-acquired content seems to have no problem playing on the Media Link, though. If you really want to play your pirated content, MP4 files seems to work ok, but if you had to convert all your files before you use them, why are you on Android? That's iOS-user territory.
The only other thing about the Media Link is that despite its wonderful portability, you'll be carrying a huge HDMI cable and power cord in your pocket. That's not for everyone.
Should You Buy One?
If you can put up with finnicky pairing and a clunky HDMI cable in your bag all the time, absolutely. It's more portable than something like a Google TV or an Apple TV could ever hope to be, and it cleverly uses your phone as the brains of the operation.
If you're a prolific pirate who has never paid for a piece of content in his or her life and want a way to stream it to the TV, this isn't for you.