The HTC Media Link is a little dongle that adds DLNA support to your telly, which means you can stream media from your HTC mobile phone straight to the big screen. You can also connect it to your home network to wirelessly stream stuff from your Windows 7 computer to your TV, while using your phone as the remote control.
You can pick up the Media Link for £90, and HTC will throw in an HDMI cable -- which is handy, because the gadget has a tiny micro-HDMI port which requires a special cable.
Size does matter
The Media Link is insanely tiny -- barely bigger than a box of tic-tacs. Unfortunately, once you add a huge power adaptor, which is larger than the device itself, and two big cables, the Media Link is left flopping around like a minnow on a fishing line.
We hate to complain about something being too small, but the stiff cables and light weight kept the Media Link from sitting comfortably on any flat surface, and we had to wedge it in beside our set-top box lest it slip into the bottomless pit of cable spaghetti behind the TV.
You've got two options with the Media Link -- using as a wireless hotspot, or connecting it to your home network.
To keep things simple, use it as a wireless hotspot. Plug it in, connect it to your telly's HDMI port, and fire it up. It creates its own bubble of Wi-Fi, so you can connect to it using the Connected Media app on your HTC phone. Then you're laughing -- photos, music and video are beamed over to the big screen with no fuss.
This set-up took us less than 5 minutes to sort out, which is pretty unheard of for media equipment, and half of that was figuring out what all the buttons on our TV remote do.
We did have some trouble with unsupported video, however. Two of our films in AVI format just wouldn't play through the Media Link, despite showing fine on the HTC Desire HD we were testing it with. This was a punch below the belt -- it's enough of a pain in the leg to sort out what videos will play on the phone, without having to worry about the media streamer too.
The more complicated option is to connect the Media Link to your own Wi-Fi network, and use it to stream media from your Windows 7 computer or your phone. All three have to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and we did have some trouble getting started. The instructions weren't clear that you have to connect to the Media Link's own hotspot first, in order to configure it to connect to your Wi-Fi.
But, once we'd sorted that out, getting our streaming started was pretty painless. We were able to see all of the photos, music and videos on our PC without any trouble by using Windows Media Player in Windows 7.
Actually viewing those files on the TV was tediously slow, though. Over our 802.11n wireless network, even photos took ages to transfer to the big screen. Also, we had trouble playing some of our video files, particularly the AVI files that we favour for films.
We did like using the Desire HD as a remote to browse through the files on our computer and fire them over to the TV. But again, long pauses as our library was loaded meant we spent more time waiting than watching.
The HTC Media Link is a tiny, easy to use media streamer that mostly does what it says on the tin. After a few minor hiccups during setup, it served as a simple, hands-free method of getting our snaps and shots from a phone to the TV. But we're left wondering if it's worth £99 just to see our grainy videos on our telly, when we could upload them to YouTube for free and watch them anywhere.
And up against a full-sized video streamer, the little Media Link can't defend itself. It has no YouTube, iPlayer or other catch-up services and no storage of its own. It is cheaper than most, but with gaping holes in its video support, we woudn't want to rely on it for getting all our digital movies off our computer and on to the TV. That makes the Media Link strictly for HTC phone fans only.
Edited by Nick Hide