Samsung Galaxy S8 docks with the DEX
THE SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 IS PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF WHAT WE CONSIDER AS HIGH-END PROCESSING POWER ON THE GO
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, samsung.com (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.