Can Samsung's DeX Station succeed where others have failed?
Will Samsung’s market dominance make DeX a thing people actually use?
Samsung is one of those companies that likes to try things. Because it will put things out there and keep working on them we have technology like AMOLED screens that don’t suck and devices that have ginormous displays. Heck, Samsung even brought back the stylus and made it sexy. Even when its ideas get universally panned (T-Mobile actually dropped the original Note just before its release date because it thought nobody wanted that thing), Samsung keeps making adjustments and improvements until it is satisfied. Then the good stuff is kept and the bad stuff goes away.
Samsung has a knack for turning an oddball idea into something great.
Samsungs also not afraid to build on ideas from others and it has both successes (Gear VR is a response to Cardboard and the Oculus Rift) and failures (S-Voice) to show for it. It’s at it again with the coming DeX Station and the question is whether it will be another Gear VR or an S-Voice.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the DeX Station is a dock for your Galaxy S8 that connects to a monitor and peripherals like a mouse and keyboard to build a desktop computer that’s not labeled as a desktop or a computer. We’re still unsure how or if it will handle regular Android apps that you’ve installed to your phone, but specially built apps from Samsung as well as Microsoft and Adobe are designed to use the bigger screen while it’s plugged in. If you’ve been an Android junkie for a while you’re probably thinking that sounds like something Motorola tried a few years back. And you would be right.
There are some differences. The Galaxy S8 is far more capable than the Motorola Atrix or Droid Bionic was. This means companies can write software that does a lot more. We’ve heard VMWare has something planned for DeX as does Citrix. In 2017 and beyond, supporting software and apps is a requirement for success. Being good is no longer enough; just ask Microsoft. Out of the box, I expect Samsung to offer more software for DeX than Motorola did. The real problem is supporting apps from other companies, including your must-haves.
It takes more than good apps, though. If that were the only ingredient we would all be using Ubuntu phones and carrying monitors around. Apt-get all the things. I think the biggest hurdle is hardware.
A DeX station is portable but the things you need to actually use it aren’t going to fit into your carry-on.
DeX is a mixed bag in this respect. The Station itself looks great: USB 3.0, HDMI, cooling fans and an active charger while the phone is docked covers everything and then some. But it stops there. Without a display and input devices plugged in, DeX is just a changer with a noisy fan. That means it’s something you can only use where you have an extra monitor, mouse, and keyboard laying around or you need to find a way to squeeze them all into your carry-on. Samsung isn’t saying it, but this basically means that DeX is designed to be a desktop computer, one that’s about the same price as a desktop computer with better hardware, more storage and Windows 10.
The portability issue is easily fixed, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Samsung clamshell that your S8 can slip into over the holidays if the DeX Station sells well. But as it stands, there is zero reason for an early adopter to buy a DeX dock outside of the novelty factor. A mini PC will run better, do more, and use the programs you want for the same price. It can even charge your phone through the USB port while you’re using it. If early adopters (who tend to be tech savvy and know things like a mini-wintel PC or Chromebox exist) aren’t interested, Samsung might have a problem.
There is no reason for an early adopter to choose a DeX station over existing products that do everything better.
All in one operating systems are coming. Microsoft, Apple, and Google are working on software built for every screen so it’s logical for Samsung to try and get in front of it. DeX will survive in some form because it has to. Samsung isn’t saying a lot about DeX outside of showcasing its own apps (a logical choice for a product launch) so maybe there is more than we know right now. Or maybe this DeX is the OG Note version that evolves into that thing everyone loves. We have to wait and see, but that won’t stop us from talking about it.
As for myself, I’m itching to give it a try and test its limits. And I can’t wait to see the next version and the ones after that. Use the comments to share what you think and ways you might use a DeX Station today or in the future.