Samsung DeX turns the Galaxy S8 into a (sort of) desktop PC
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Various companies have tried their hand over the past few years at creating a smartphone/desktop hybrid solution, with none gathering much steam. The first attempt was made by Motorola and its Atrix 4G smartphone, way back in 2011. That was followed by the Asus PadFone family of devices a year later. In 2015, Microsoft debuted Continuum, which promised to turn any Windows Phone into a full desktop PC. Jide, which had been working on its Remix OS around the same time, waited until earlier this year to announce Singularity, an Android rival to Continuum.
Today, Samsung has thrown its hat into the ring with the Samsung Desktop Experience. Better known as DeX, it consists of a cradle-like dock that allows the company's new Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones to plug in and turn into desktop PCs. The DeX includes an HDMI port which allows you to hook up a monitor, as well as two USB ports to connect a keyboard and mouse. Internet access is provided by the phone; however, an ethernet port is available for those who prefer a wired connection.
The user interface looks and works similarly to that of the aforementioned Singularity, which in turn is a near-carbon copy of Windows 10. It has an app drawer on the bottom left and notification icons on the bottom right. App icons can be placed on anywhere on the desktop screen. It's fairly intuitive and shouldn't take long for anyone familiar with a PC to get used to.
DeX runs the same Android apps found on your Galaxy S8. Mobile versions of Chrome or Docs—they look no different on the desktop than on your phone. Unfortunately, because of the lack of Android apps optimized for large or wide screens, you may end up staring at a lot of stretched-out buttons and icons. Apps that are optimized, such as some of Samsung's and Microsoft's offerings, should look much better.
Desktop apps may not be available natively on DeX, but Samsung has a solution of sorts. You can establish a remote desktop connection that allows you to control your PC from afar and run your programs. The only requirement—recommendation, actually—is a reliable and relatively speedy internet connection.
Will the DeX finally prove that a smartphone can replace a desktop PC? Similar questions have been asked for the better part of a decade; if Samsung has anything to say about it, an answer may not be too far off.