Go big: When does mat­ter

It won’t beat a tra­di­tional desk­top PC, but it’s worth check­ing out

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - TECH TALK -

that my S8 would not dock un­less I re­moved the pro­tec­tive cover. No big­gie, but as the only three phones that work with the DeX are clad front and back in glass, you’ll need to take ex­tra care when dock­ing and un­dock­ing them.

Once con­nected, the user in­ter­face is re­mark­ably like a tra­di­tional desk­top user in­ter­face. The DeX soft­ware – down­load­able as a free app from the Sam­sung store – trans­forms the por­trait-ori­ented view of your smart­phone dis­play into the familiar PC land­scape view.

This il­lu­sion of a desk­top ex­pe­ri­ence is main­tained un­til you open an app other than the 20 or so op­ti­mised for DeX, where­upon it’ll be dis­played in por­trait mode just as it ap­pears on your phone, but much big­ger on your mon­i­tor or TV screen. Most of th­ese apps still work fine, but not as seam­lessly as those tai­lored for DeX.

The good news is that the lat­ter cat­e­gory con­tains some of the most use­ful apps – in­clud­ing the mo­bile ver­sions of Mi­crosoft’s of­fice and var­i­ous Adobe prod­ucts. And the list is grow­ing as more devel­op­ers come on board.

I was eas­ily able to use the Chrome browser to log onto the var­i­ous con­tent man­age­ment and web­mail por­tals I use for work as well as open and edit Word and Ex­cel doc­u­ments.

There are lim­its, how­ever.

Open too many browser win­dows and you start to ex­pe­ri­ence some lag. Also, apps and games that de­pend heav­ily on the phone’s touch­screen will be pretty much un­us­able on DeX.

An­other lim­i­ta­tion is that there’s no au­dio out jack to con­nect DeX to a pair of head­phones or speaker. And with the phone docked flush with

DeX, you can’t use its head­phone jack. This means you need to rely on the phone’s speaker and mi­cro­phone to con­duct hands-free in­ter­views and lis­ten to mu­sic.

This was par­tic­u­larly an­noy­ing when watch­ing YouTube videos, some­thing you’ll nat­u­rally want to try when con­nected to a 55-inch TV. Per­haps a set of Blue­toothen­abled speak­ers would solve the prob­lem, but that wouldn’t have been nec­es­sary if Sam­sung had sim­ply in­cluded a head­phone jack.

Nev­er­the­less, for the most part, I found us­ing DeX a sur­pris­ingly sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence to a tra­di­tional desk­top PC, es­pe­cially once

I’d got used to the quirks and idio­syn­cra­sies that ac­com­pany any new in­ter­face.

To re­turn to the ques­tion, is it a re­place­ment for a desk­top PC? That de­pends.

If you hardly ever use a full­sized com­puter and do most of your work on your phone, the DeX would make an ex­cel­lent ad­di­tion to your reper­toire, al­low­ing you to su­per­size the screen to an­swer those long, com­pli­cated emails and even cre­ate and edit spread­sheets and text doc­u­ments.

If you’re cur­rently a pro desk­top user, how­ever, the DeX prob­a­bly isn’t pow­er­ful or flex­i­ble enough for your needs, al­though it may make a use­ful sec­ondary de­vice to keep at home. If you do a lot of work on the go in air­port lounges, re­mote of­fices and cof­fee shops, a lap­top is still the best way to go al­though, again, the DeX may make a use­ful backup de­vice.

All this pre­sumes you al­ready own, or plan to buy, a Gal­axy S8, S8+ or Note 8 and you have the pe­riph­er­als needed. If so, at a cost of around R2 000, the DeX is def­i­nitely worth check­ing out.

I was sorry to see it go, al­though the rest of my fam­ily were happy to get their TV back.

Fol­low Cooper on Twit­ter @alan­q­cooper.

Sam­sung DeX

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