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Samsung DeX: Everything You Need to Know

Samsung DeX: Everything You Need to Know
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The Samsung DeX is short for Desktop Experience Station that turns your Galaxy S8 into a viable desktop computer.

When Samsung rolled out its new flagship Galaxy S8 and S8+ Android smartphones it also lifted the curtain on a clever docking device which turns these phones into the core of a viable desktop computing system: The Samsung Desktop Experience Station or DeX.

Slip a Galaxy S8 or S8+ onto the DeX, add a monitor, mouse and keyboard and you end up with what the moniker promises — a full desktop computing experience. Yes, it's still Android, but it's not just an inflated handheld experience. Samsung DeX adds a few software enhancements to Android to make the interface more like a Windows experience — with some success.

MORE: Can You Run a Business via a Smartphone?

While it's not the first desktop computing dock for a smartphone, Samsung insists that it's an elegant one: Users can even unlock the DeX system using the rear fingerprint reader or facial recognition feature built into the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

So what do you need to know about the DeX? Here it is in a nutshell:

Price: $150. Preorders are being accepted.

Compatibility
The DeX works only with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+. The DeX has a USB-C connector, which is not backward compatible with older Galaxy S-series smartphones since they have micro USB ports. The dock adjusts for the different sizes of the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Accessories
The DeX consists of just the dock. You'll need to add a monitor with an HDMI port and a wired or wireless mouse and keyboard. The DeX supports Bluetooth and RF wireless devices that need a USB RF dongle.

User Interface
The DeX uses an enhanced Android interface which supports multiple resizable windows, dragging and dropping files and common keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl-X to cut text and Ctrl-V to paste. Samsung has collaborated with Microsoft, Adobe and other software publishers to optimize Microsoft Office apps, Adobe Lightroom Mobile and other popular mobile apps to appear more natural the large screen. Apps that aren't optimized may appear in a phone-shaped window but will be functional. On the corporate side, the DeX supports virtual Windows desktops via Citrix, VMware, Amazon Web Services.

Samsung has also added Linux as a trial experience on the DeX. Developers can code on the go in the preferred distribution of the developer. You must sign up for alerts, as this feature isn't quite ready. 

Connectivity
The rear of the dock has single Ethernet and HDMI ports, a USB-C port for a charger and two USB 2.0 ports. Bluetooth connectivity to a mouse or keyboard is via the wireless adapter in the docked phone.

Communications
Phones docked in the DeX remain connected and can send and receive phone calls and texts, but the phone's screen is inactive and all input is via the mouse and keyboard. Users can switch a live call to the phone screen without being disconnected by simply removing the phone from the DeX.

Power
The unit is powered by the Galaxy S8 or S8+ USB-C charger and, due to the amount of work demanded from the phone, comes with a built-in cooling fan. Phones are charged while docked in the DeX, which supports Adaptive Fast Charging (AFC) technology.