Samsung’s latest Galaxy 8 has all the bells and whistles that makes it truly a fascinating piece of hardware. Its features are cutting-edge, making the company ahead of its arch rivals in the smartphone business. While it’s true that the Galaxy S8 is a top-notch product, this phone is also meant to woo the business community with the DeX Station, a dock that will transform the Galaxy S8 and S8+ into a desktop computer of sorts.
Even though Samsung has no immediate plan to release the DeX Station in India, we had a chance to experience a new dock accessory for the Galaxy S8 at the launch event recently. Here’s our first impression about the DeX Station.
The DeX Station lets you insert the smartphone into a dock connected to a monitor via a HDMI output to provide the “Desktop experience” (DEX). The dock basically turns a smartphone into a full-fledged desktop PC that can effectively runs Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel.
Speaking of the design, the DeX has a small, puck shape that fits easily in one hand. The top of the DeX Station slides away and up to reveal a USB Type-C port in the base, into which you slide your Galaxy S8 or S8+. The dock even has a cooling fan and allows fast charging support. The dock features an HDMI port, Ethernet, two USB ports and a charging port. This means you can hook a Bluetooth keyboard, mouse, and connect to a monitor or TV via HDMI. Slide the Galaxy S8 onto the dock, and you’re set.
One you plug in the phone, a black screen appears on the monitor for a few seconds, before completely switching to a desktop mode. The layout on the display appears to be somewhat similar to a Chromebook.
That’s because Samsung has redesigned the Android UI so that it works with keyboard and mouse. In the lower-left corner, you’ll be able to see a grid of apps, including those ones that have been optimised for the DeX. Apps that have been designed for DeX have resizable windows and interfaces. The list includes Samsung’s own apps, and there’s Flipkart as well.
Most apps should work well on DeX. But I did notice that many apps haven’t been optimised for DeX. The big glaring example of this would be Facebook. A Samsung representative said many more apps will be optimised for DeX in the future, though when remains unclear.
The notification tray, which is usually found on the top of your phone screen, has been moved to the bottom right in the DeX environment. It looks a lot similar to the Notification Center in Windows 10. You can have shortcuts on your desktop, with all the system icons and notifications dropping down to the bottom right.
Microsoft’s apps in DeX, be Office or Excel, are optimised for the DeX environment. These apps looks like the desktop version, rather than a mobile one. Due to the lack of time, I couldn’t test Google Docs in the DeX environment.
Everything from browsing the web to editing documents seemed fine in DeX. After a few seconds, I’m convinced the smartphone could be transformed into a full blown desktop PC. While the concept isn’t entirely new, Samsung has managed to create a compelling accessory that works.
The DeX is designed for those who need a quick solution, say editing docs, making presentations when they are away from the PC. Though I refuse to believe that these very people, who can buy the Galaxy S8, won’t already possess a sleek and powerful laptop. Not doubt, the DeX is small and handy too. But it’s not pocket-friendly. Plus, you will need access to a keyboard, mouse, and possibly a monitor with you when you need to do work. Setting up is still a challenge. Frankly, I’m not sure why people will give up a laptop, just yet.