Samsung DeX is now a competent PC replacement, for some

Turning your smartphone into a full blown PC has been an idea that the industry has flirted with for the longest time. The strongest example was Windows Continuum, which showed real promise, but was ultimately let down by performance issues and confined to a dying platform in Windows Phone.

Keeping the 'smartphone that can turn into a PC' dream alive is Samsung DeX, which is supported on all Galaxy flagship smartphones dating back to 2017's S8. By simply plugging the smartphone into an external monitor, you're greeted with a familiar desktop-like interface complete with resizable windows, drag and drop functionality and mouse and keyboard support.

Samsung’s DeX Station dock adds extra functionality, but with recent phones you can engage DeX with just a single cable.

I had originally dismissed DeX as an undercooked gimmick but to Samsung's credit, the company has made a number of improvements to the platform to coincide with the release of its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Note10.

Though older handsets require a dock, newer ones can connect to any monitor with a simple USB-C to HDMI cable, and after using DeX this way almost exclusively for a week, I came away impressed. You can also connect Galaxy phones to a laptop or computer to use DeX in a window, but that somewhat defeats the purpose.

DeX boots up almost instantly once a phone's connected and the desktop user interface is clean and simple taking a few design cues from Windows 10 and Chrome OS. You don't need to learn new keyboard shortcuts either as the ones you have become accustomed to using on a PC, such as alt-tab for switching between applications, work in DeX as well.

Performance feels snappy on the Galaxy Note 10 and, after running a few benchmarks to confirm, there's next to no performance loss when running in DeX mode. You're ostensibly utilising all of the processing power that the smartphone has to offer.

This means that demanding Android games such as Asphalt 9 look and run great on the big screen and are more satisfying to play when paired with an Xbox One controller over Bluetooth.

Video editing apps like Adobe Rush also performed well and benefited greatly from the extra screen real estate. In general I found DeX fairly stable with the phone never getting too hot to the touch. I say "fairly" as there were times when a random app would crash DeX forcing me to reboot the phone.

Samsung limits apps running in DeX to just five at a time which might be a deal breaker for some. It didn't impact me much as I do most of my work through a web browser using things like Google Docs, email and occasionally posting on social media.

Outside of the apps made by Microsoft, Adobe and Samsung, there aren't many apps optimised for DeX. What you're left with are mobile apps with the same size and layout as they would be on your phone. You can force apps to run in fullscreen but, since they aren't designed to be used that way, they don't scale well to a big external monitor with mouse input.

Chrome is also fairly limited on DeX since it doesn't support plugins like its desktop browser equivalent, so your favourite ad blocker isn't available, and it also has a habit of bumping you off to the mobile versions of popular sites. I found Samsung's native internet browser and Opera much better to use in DeX.

It was nice not having to constantly switch back and forth between smartphone and PC throughout the day, as all of the mobile notifications, text messages and calls come through on DeX.

I do wish there was a better sense of continuity between Android and DeX, so that if you're in the middle of an email on a smartphone you can pick up right where you left off on DeX. Instead you have to open the app again in DeX and dig back into your drafts to finish off the email.

It's also worth noting that although DeX technically supports ultrawide 21:9 monitors and resolutions higher than Full HD, you're going to need to invest in a docking solution like $150 DeX Pad or $200 DeX Station to fill out anything wider than a 16:9 display. There's no support for multiple monitors either.

Still, I was surprised with how much I could get done by simply plugging in my Galaxy Note 10 into a monitor or television. It won't replace a laptop for most people, but if you're the type of person that already gets most things done on their phone and don't want to go down the road of investing in a full blown laptop, DeX makes a lot of sense. Provided of course you already own the requisite Galaxy smartphone.

Source: Read Full Article