The Samsung Dex, the dock that turns your Samsung smartphone into a computer. Probably the coolest thing about Samsung Dex is that it exists at all. You can say that Tomorrow’s technology is here today! But i today really ready for it? Let’s find out with Samsung Dex.
We have seen similar products from Microsoft and Motorola in the past, but Dex is different, because this time, it is on one of the world’s most popular smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.
Of course it comes with a price tag to match and you have to be with a spare monitor, keyboard and mouse handy, plus Bluetooth headphones or speaker, since you can not use regular headphones with it. That is pretty big barrier to entry for ordinary consumers. Which is why this product really is not aimed at them.
Set-up is pretty straight forward. The dock unfolds into a kind of landing pad that you drop your phone onto with a tacky friction base that keeps it in place. You plug in a Samsung charger, run an HDMI cable to your monitor, and either jack in your keyboard and mouse with USB, or do it wirelessly through Bluetooth.
Next thing you know, you’re using your phone as a desktop. Of course, your phone doesn’t have as much power as a true computer, but what’s really impressive about Samsung DeX is how well it performs despite that.
In fact, the first time I used it, I kept expecting to give up and move to another machine, because I couldn’t do something. But no, I actually ended up using Samsung DeX for almost three hours. The layout is very familiar to anyone used to a Windows machine.
A shortcut to your app drawer, like a start menu, lives on the lower left, and apps open in self-contained little windows. Some will only run in phone orientation, but some can go landscape, and still others can take over the whole screen.
Next to the app drawer are the home and recent apps buttons, In the opposite corner is the notification area, where all your incoming alerts stack up, just like on your phone. You’ve got shortcuts to system functions like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth over there.
And you can even right-click on stuff for more menu options, where available. Keyboard shortcuts are here too, to make Samsung DeX feel even more like a real computer. And you can set a screensaver to protect your monitor from burning.
You can even stick a pen drive into one of the USB ports, access its files. As you open them, apps line up in a row at the bottom of the screen. And I really needed to open a ton of them at once to get the system to start slowing down.
As I opened many application, I was watching screen full of applications, which is just an illusion. Not all of them were actually active at the same time. You can check that when you are using a messaging app, and you are working in another window.
You expect the messaging app to update in the background because you think you are on a computer, but it won’t, because you’re not on a computer.
Now, while being able to run almost all my apps is nice, I spend most of my time in Chrome, and I’m happy to report that it’s quite responsive in the Samsung DeX, even when I open a ton of browser tabs and the dock’s fan kicks in to cool off the phone.
The Galaxy S8’s powerful internals really serve it well in this. I have used Samsung DeX for a week, at my office, at home. Road trips are not a practical use case for Samsung DeX. The dock is lightweight, but once you factor in everything you need to take along, you might as well just use the laptop you were gonna bring anyway.
Instead, Samsung seems to be targeting the corporate angle. And this actually kind of makes sense. The lightest laptop is still huge compared to a smartphone. Usually more expensive, too.
Samsung is betting on a future where a company doesn’t buy a bunch of ThinkPads for its employees, but a palette of Samsung Galaxys and Samsung DeX docks instead.
In this scenario, all your work is stored on your phone. When you come into the office, you drop it in your dock, give it a second to remember where you were and reload all the apps you had open, and clack away for eight hours. At the end of the day, you take the phone home, drop into your personal Samsung DeX dock, and alternate between Reddit dives and bad Snapchat selfies.
If you need to work from home, all that work is already with you on your phone. So you just scan in with your eyeballs and get back to work. There’s virtual desktop support if you need it. As a corporate workforce solution, Samsung DeX makes a bit of sense.
At least more sense than pitching it to consumers and saying, hey, pay 150 Dollars a pop just to put docks in all the places you can already use your laptop. I’ve talked about laptops a lot here, and I think it would be helpful if there were a laptop dock that worked with it. Like the one HP built for Microsoft Continuum.
Also, some bugs need fixing. Android’s pointer framework is inconsistent across apps, so things as simple as highlighting text or clicking and dragging can get frustrating. Scrolling with a mouse doesn’t always work the way you expect it to.
And some apps just pain won’t run in the DeX environment. These inconveniences are minor, and it’s early days for DeX. But it left unfixed, they add up to produce that kind of annoying user experience that employees begin to resent being forced into.
|Samsung Dex Station (International Version without Warranty)||$139.00/-|
|Samsung Dex Station (US Version with Warranty)||$178.00/-|
If you’re a company gunning to revolutionize the way a whole industry works, you need to either come correct with a solid experience, or you need to be able to sell people on what’s essentially a first-generation product. Now Samsung has always been adept at selling itself, and Samsung DeX is off to a much better start than any of its predecessors.
But it has a ways to go before it has a chance of becoming the new standard. I love the idea of Samsung DeX, and what it could be tomorrow is extraordinary. What is it today, is a product ahead of its time, in both the positive and the negative sense.
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