Now that the Samsung Galaxy Note8 is announced, pre-order customers in Singapore will get a free DeX Station worth S$198. What does it do, and how useful is it?
In a nutshell, the DeX Station is a dock that transforms the Samsung Galaxy Note8, S8 and S8+ into a desktop computer.
The retail package contains just the round dock and an instruction manual. There are no cables nor charge adapter. After connecting the full-size HDMI cable and plugging in USB power using the smartphone AC adapter (required to power up the dock), the DeX desktop mode loads and appears on the external HDMI monitor. To navigate the DeX desktop, you need input devices. A mouse is the bare minimum, so that you can at least click the on-screen keyboard. Connect the keyboard and mouse either by Bluetooth or insert the wired USB devices to the DeX Station, which comes with 2 full-size USB ports and Ethernet port. Tip: if you want to connect to Bluetooth, pair the mouse and/or keyboard on the smartphone BEFORE docking to DeX Station, because once docked, the smartphone screen will be disabled and there is no way to navigate the DeX desktop to even start pairing.
Microsoft Windows users will be familiar with the layout: desktop icons, taskbar, start button, shortcut icons, running apps icons, and so on. A built-in fan cools down the dock and smartphone. Under the desktop mode, the apps open as floating windows, and depending on compatibility, they can be resizable or fixed with icon to rotate the window like smartphone. Most of the Samsung, Google and Microsoft apps are resizable, while Facebook, Instagram, StarHub Go, are not. So while I could watch YouTube videos in full screen, I had to make do with a small window for StarHub Go.
Besides the desktop mode, the DeX Station can support smartphone mirror mode where the smartphone screen appears on the external monitor.
During my review on the Galaxy S8, the DeX desktop does not run that nimbly, but nonetheless achieves the purpose of true multi-window interaction. It is certainly more productive with multiple apps all over the desktop than toggling app by app in full screen on a smartphone. Granted, you could run apps on split-screen view, but not all apps support that.
One may have to overlook some constraints and see the bigger picture of the improved experience. For instance, when the phone is undocked and later docks back again, the desktop session is not restored. And when you traverse between the desktop to smartphone, the same app does not render in the correct mode unless the app is refreshed or restarted. However, during the Galaxy Note8 launch event, the speaker presented a demo where he continued a video call session from smartphone to desktop, plus ability to share desktop view to the caller, so I believe there are ongoing feature improvements to make DeX a better experience.
For what it’s worth, the Samsung DeX Station is a highly productive dock for Samsung Galaxy Note8, S8 and S8+ owners who desires a more productive interaction on the smartphone. This is the accessory that further expands the capabilities of the portable smartphone. After all, the price of these premium Galaxy devices can match a desktop, so instead of selling it on Carousell, why not make use of it to its potential? Who knows, after trying the DeX Station, the thing that you should sell off is your current aged desktop.
Retail price at S$198. Expect an exodus of aftermarket sales on Carousell at lower prices.
- Connection Ports: Ethernet, HDMI, USB 2.0 x 2, USB Type C
- Weight: 230 g