Originally introduced with the Galaxy S8, Samsung's DeX function has always been a kind of curiosity.
But in all honesty, as admitted in the review of the original DeX dock that we performed this time last year, this has always been part of the appeal. As an idea, there are many ideas about convergence – and I'm always able to see how companies try to tap into and execute things that are convincing about it.
It's been over a year since that review and Samsung continued to build on DeX – so it seemed appropriate to revisit the function and see how it has evolved and improved.
The plan was simple: for a full work week, I would rely as much as possible on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and on the DeX for as many of my works as possible. The idea was to highlight Samsung's bold statements about functionality.
Is Samsung's DeX really close to achieving its goal of offering users the chance to realize the dream of mobile convergence from one device to another for all of them compared to a year ago? Is this the future of computing or another deadlock like HP's Elite X3?
Terms and conditions
In front of it, there are some warnings for my experiment.
From time to time I had to go back to my Windows-based workstation for a few bits during the course of the week. Sometimes I need a specific file, sometimes I need to use a Windows application – so I did not trust 100% of DeX. As much as possible.
The other warning is that while the Galaxy Note 9 now supports DeX mode via a USB Type-C-to-HDMI cable, the limited usability of this configuration was more problematic than it was worth. While I have no shortage of keyboards around the office, most of the wireless options were Logitech products – requiring the company's proprietary wireless USB connector to connect and use.
Opting for the HDMI cable option meant giving up on any USB functionality, which meant that you could not use any of these keyboards and mice. Therefore, we opted for the use of last year's DeX dock, as it offered a simpler configuration.
As such, this article should not necessarily be considered a complete account of the modern DeX experience. That said, I've come up with more than enough experience joking with DeX to have a firm opinion that Samsung's software has become much closer to fulfilling its goal of condensing your smartphone into the Internet. the only device to dominate them all.
And the painful but brief version is that the DeX is still largely a difficult road to travel.
If you're in the position where your workflow can be managed entirely by Android apps and you're trying to simplify your workflow in one always connected device, the Samsung DeX makes *technically * let you do exactly this. Unfortunately, there are so many warnings and disadvantages that it is still a very difficult proposition to be advised outright.
My kingdom for a right click
In front of it: it's not bad at all.
Starting from the unequivocal assumption that your daily workflow can be effectively managed entirely using Android apps, there is certainly a utility and a fascination to have your work space contained within of a single device. If you manage an activity, the potential savings are also quite easy to see. A Galaxy Note 9 may be one of the most expensive phones you can buy, but if you save money on a workstation, it's not that expensive.
The future that Samsung is proposing here is one where instead of owning a telephone And a workstation, one is the owner of the first. And, in credit of the company, some of the advantages of this lifestyle of a single device are made manifest through the DeX.
For one, the fact that I was holding my phone in the DeX dock for most of the day meant that the Galaxy Note 9 never came close to the battery. Apart from one day, where I was not much more in the office, I rarely went below 60% of the remaining battery. So, if you're the kind of person who finds the battery life of Note 9 deficient, this is a real-world improvement that the DeX (indirectly) allows.
Also, having relied on DeX really highlighted how strong Samsung's native Android apps are. Perhaps not surprisingly, they run better than anything else when in DeX mode, regardless of whether they ran full-screen or windows-based applications. In an environment with janky incompatibilities, Samsung's web browser, calendar and email apps have been an oasis of stability and relative productivity.
C & # 39; is a new DeX Labs mode, which Samsung presented at the start of this year along with the promise that would make Android apps more compatible. And taken on a large scale, this statement could be true. However, on a more everyday level, DeX's experience is still a little disgusting when it comes to playing well with * most * Android apps.
For example, Firefox (my usual go-to-browser) outright does not work in DeX mode and most video streaming applications do not work or do not support playback in a small window. If you want to watch video content, Netflix works, but playing it in full screen is like pulling your teeth.
Speaking of web browsers, Chrome support in DeX is pretty solid. Unfortunately, it will automatically try to boot into an app where appropriate, which makes sense on the phone, but predictably causes problems in DeX because those apps may not have the same level of friendliness as the Samsung faux-desktop interface. .
Still, for what it's worth, DeX Labs did something different here. With the new feature disabled, most of the apps I would use would start in phone mode on the larger display. With DeX Labs enabled, a handful of those apps launched in a format more suited to the desktop, typically only the counterparts in tablet mode.
While it's hard not to allow improvements to the status quo brought by DeX Lab are a breakthrough, it's hard not to call the experience of what it is: a mixed bag. Of course, the Samsung and Microsoft apps are well optimized. All the rest? Less so In this sense, little has changed for the DeX experience in the last twelve months.
And when the critical moment arrived, this reality proved to be a real obstacle to my productivity with the DeX.
Attempts to highlight text were often read as swipes, Gmail pop-ups quickly consumed any space on the blank screen and even the alt-tab experience on different apps is much more clamorous than it should be – from the moment that you have to physically click to select the card you want to skip (for some arcane reason).
Mouse and keyboard features work as you would expect, but they're also suffocated in a lot of strange ways you might not expect. Some apps have been built around dragging as the main interaction. However, very few support right-clicking and even less support mouse scrolling. The same applies to keyboard shortcuts. Some apps support copying and pasting. Others no. For obvious reasons, this inconsistency often generated frustration.
Then, there are phone calls.
Yes, you can totally connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones to the DeX and live hands-free life. However, as someone who does not necessarily want to always have the wireless headphones that occlude the hearing while working, I generally left the Galaxy Note 9 set on the speaker when it was in the DeX dock.
Every time I received a call, my phone rang. I should physically unplug it from the DeX, wait a couple of seconds for the device to return to normal mode before I can actually answer the call. Working in a conventional office environment turned out to be an incredibly difficult process.
He is probably saying that Samsung barely served DeX during its recent Developers Conference.
When it was introduced in 2017, DeX was a curiosity bristling with potential. Today, it seems like a dead end. Samsung is pouring more and more research and development dollars into Bixby, 5G and folding displays. DeX seems to have fallen into oblivion.
And maybe it's the best.
DeX is probably not the future of computing: it's a simple capability for Samsung devices, but simply too niche and incoherent for everyone else to rely on. The fact that Samsung has reduced the hardware involved, although technically impressive, has done little to change it. As a launch, the Dex has been a compromise for everyone involved, and this has not really changed in the last twelve months.
In some ways, DeX's experience in 2018 is better than the 2017 DeX experience. But in others it is arguably worse. In my initial review of the DeX, I said that Samsung needed to put more hardware into the DeX – they instead opted for less.
If you're the rare type of user who manages to get away with your workflow using DeX, I'm actually more impressed with you than I'm Samsung. Honestly, if you've read all of the above and keep thinking "Yes, I could do that job", you should definitely make a change to DeX because it seems like most people do not have the same opportunity. Just do it.
This does not mean that DeX is a disaster, it is not. For Samsung's merit, it's a miracle that the whole experience is usable as it is. At the same time, the software and hardware involved mean that it will probably remain a niche feature until it quietly fades into the background.
It is hoped that the lessons that Samsung has learned here will not do the same. Because there are absolutely lessons to learn here. In fact, Samsung's recent announcement that smart users will now be able to run Linux in DeX mode seems to suggest they did exactly that.
Android is a brilliant mobile operating system. But trying to bend the Android out-of-shape mobile ecosystem to fit a small segment of desktop-minded users is not only an efficient and sustainable way to move forward – it's useless for everyone involved. On the contrary, realizing that high-end devices like the Galaxy Note 9 (on which Samsung has greater control) are powerful enough not to offer a desktop experience similar to Android, it seems a more fruitful way.
It might seem sacrilegious, but as more and more OEMs dabble with Snapdragon-based Windows machines, the idea of dual-booting a version of Windows 10 on smartphone hardware sounds less and less crazy from day to day.
In any case, the DeX itself seems condemned. The introduction of DeX Labs has bought it for some time but is condemned the same. Samsung's move to offer Linux support suggests that they are eager to move on to anything that goes on ahead of continuing to extend the duration of an experiment that has already reached a terminal stage.
When it comes to technology and computing, everyone is fighting to define the future and Samsung has failed to fight with DeX. It remains to be seen if today's failures will be worthwhile and will lay the groundwork for tomorrow's successes.
The convergence is coming and the road to get there is likely to be paved with faults like the Samsung DeX.
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Tags LinuxAndroidsamsungDeXGalaxy Note 9DeX Desktop