Sam­sung Galaxy S8 docks with the DEX


Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Contents -

Can your smart­phone be a mo­bile PC?

YOU COULD BUY A DE­CENTLY SPECCED LAP­TOP for R20 000 and be very happy. I could do that and make my wife very happy. But one of the haz­ards of my job, which my wife is very fa­mil­iar with, is that I’m just the right level of gad­get-ob­sessed to give any new so­lu­tion a chance. Sam­sung’s DEX dock for the Galaxy S8 fam­ily isn’t new, but def­i­nitely de­serves a chance if you want to break from tra­di­tion.

As a Mo­torola Atrix and HD Mul­ti­me­dia dock owner, I al­ready know the pos­si­ble short­com­ings of us­ing a smart­phone as a desk­top com­puter. DEX has very sim­i­lar down­sides, like need­ing an HDMI screen, mouse, key­board and ex­ter­nal power source to func­tion cor­rectly. But the over­all user ex­pe­ri­ence is huge leap for­ward over the Atrix and Mi­crosoft’s con­tin­uum.

On the dock you get two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI, eth­er­net and a soli­tary USB type- C that’s used for power de­liv­ery. The dock is rated at 12 V and 2,1 A, but since the Sam­sung Adap­tive Fast Charg­ing power brick tops out at 9 V and 1,67 A you could the­o­ret­i­cally drive the set-up with the new Sam­sung branded 5100 power­bank. And that’s kind of the prob­lem with DEX. En­tic­ingly, it de­liv­ers the flex­i­bil­ity of us­ing your phone as a do-it-all de­vice.

Frus­trat­ingly, it doesn’t al­low you full mo­bile pro­duc­tiv­ity. In a per­fect world I would plug DEX into a lap­top shell so I could have a truly mo­bile of­fice.

It would be easy to dis­miss the so­lu­tion as merely am­bi­tious at this point, but us­ing it for a week as my pri­mary com­puter shows it to be more than ad­e­quate for most tasks. The browser re­quests desk­top web­sites, the user in­ter­face is a win­dowed en­vi­ron­ment that most peo­ple would be com­fort­able with and it takes some ef­fort to force slow­downs, which I chalk up as a tes­ta­ment to the horse­power in­side the Galaxy S8. All the native Sam­sung apps scale well and so does the Mi­crosoft Of­fice suite of ser­vices, but you’ll need an Of­fice 365 li­cence.

At the mo­ment dis­play out­put is lim­ited to 1080p, with 4K com­ing in the near future (the box says UHD ca­pa­ble). It’s fine. Es­pe­cially when you con­sider that Google Play Movies and Youtube both have fullscreen com­pat­i­bil­ity, some­thing Net­flix should should be adding soon.

As an en­ter­tain­ment so­lu­tion, you shouldn’t dis­count how handy it is to mir­ror your phone screen on a TV. Sud­denly me­dia stored on your de­vice is ac­ces­si­ble on a large for­mat dis­play and that’s awe­some. You could also have a DEX unit per­ma­nently sta­tioned at home and skip on buy­ing a smart TV for a while.

Where I re­ally see DEX shin­ing is on busi­ness trips. Plug it into the ho­tel TV and you can leave your lap­top be­hind. All you need to take with you is a key­board and mouse. You could even take it into a board­room for pre­sen­ta­tions.

Sam­sung has suc­ceeded where oth­ers have failed and there are ru­mours of DEX com­pat­i­bil­ity mov­ing out­side of the Gal­ax­ies S8 and S8+ in the near future.

Right now, though, to be blunt: if you need a com­puter, buy a com­puter. But if your Sam­sung Galaxy S8 is your pri­mary pro­duc­tiv­ity de­vice and you can live with the short­com­ings, take a chance on a DEX dock.

R2 200, sam­ (Dock only. Charger, USB type-c cable, HDMI cable, key­board and mouse sold sep­a­rately.) - LS PM

Sam­sung isn’t the first to take a swing at the mo­bile com­put­ing ball, Mo­torola’s Atrix (left) could fit in ei­ther a mul­ti­me­dia dock or a lap­top with what it called the Lap­dock and Mi­crosoft tried mul­ti­ple ver­sions of Con­tin­uum (above) – most no­tably with HP’S Elite X3.

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