Over the years there have been many attempts to bridge the gap between mobile and desktop computing. Samsung DeX might just be the best looking shot at it to date.
Quite a few manufacturers have tried an approach similar to the Samsung DeX platform. Many of them have been sold right here at Clove!
Some of you may remember the pre-smartphone Palm PDAs, a few of which supported docking stations to monitors. Throughout the smartphone boom, we’ve also seen the Motorola Atrix and ASUS Transformer models. More recently, HPs Elite X3 has a LapDock that utilises Microsoft Continuum.
No previous efforts have really caught on though. Jon recently posted this think piece. The consensus is that while these attempts have generally been fun gadgets, the hardware and ecosystems have been ultimately lacking. As a result, only the most basic of work can get done in the set-ups.
Samsung DeX promotional video
Mobile hardware & software has now matured
The Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus are undoubtedly incredibly powerful devices. Mobile processor architecture is still very different to a true desktop chip, however the capabilities are far beyond what we envisaged just a few years ago.
On top of this, Android has now matured into a stable operating system. Samsung of course have their own overlay, and it is understandable that Samsung’s core apps work the best in DeX.
Still, the third party support is already promising. Samsung have worked closely with Microsoft and Adobe, so the Office suite and PDFs work out of the box. That’s very important for the vast number of potential user’s needs.
Also, as an Android platform, where developers already regularly target several screen sizes, it may be much easier for Samsung’s DeX developers to create a transitional state for 3rd party apps that haven’t been explicitly coded for DeX.
How much is Samsung DeX?
Samsung UK have set the initial retail price for DeX at £129.99. This includes the DeX docking station and power cables.
DeX has plenty of connectivity options:
- 2x USB 2.0
- USB Type-C
You’ll need to supply your own monitor & cables. Dex will also support USB peripherals, either wired or wireless. The dock includes wireless charging as well, so the S8 or S8 Plus will stay topped up when docked.
Could this really replace the average person’s desktop?
I think it could.
Now the desktop (or laptop) isn’t going anywhere. Professionals, hobbyists and gamers that need the full power of that environment will always want dedicated hardware, either for performance or workflow requirements.
That said, considering the computing needs of many people at home (at home is key here – not at work), Samsung DeX could be plenty.
Be honest with yourself now. When was the last time you truly needed to use a personal computer?
Emails, shopping, browsing, streaming etc. can all be handled perfectly well with mobile hardware. Samsung DeX can then provide you with the larger screen and multi-window environment to make multitasking easier.
As 3rd party support improves, the system could also be used for business applications. Of course you may not be able to quickly render a 4K movie with mobile hardware. You could definitely manage a large software project though, or run your company finances and scheduling software…
With the whole system tied into Samsung Knox security on the phone, employees having their workstation portable could be a huge productivity boon.
Will Samsung DeX catch on?
Right now it’s still very niche; it may appear too ‘techy’ to the casual PC user. Taking many basic Windows users out of their comfort zone won’t be easy either. That said, Google’s Chromebooks have been quietly doing this for a few years now.
Initial uptake will likely be with business/corporate customers, however I think the time is right to push this set up in the home/consumer space.
Other similar platforms have failed as they were one-off experiments that didn’t get supported. Even the mighty Microsoft have floundered with Continuum support on Windows 10. Although the lack of uptake in their phones can only have compounded the problem…
As long as Samsung make regular, worthwhile updates to DeX, it could be a very powerful asset. As a platform it could also extend well into future smartphone generations. Success with DeX and the S8 could see the technology being rolled out for other Samsung devices. It could feasibly licensed to other Android OEMs too…
It’s very early days but if reviews are strong, DeX – alongside the new Bixby Assistant – could be the beginning of a transitional period in home computing.