So, this afternoon, I picked up the Samsung Dex Pad. Some of you will recall my earlier blog post bemoaning whether or not I can survive on just a tablet, and whilst I actually have a Citrix M1 Mouse for the iPad on its way, I also decided to pick up the Dex Pad, as a potential thin client replacement for my bedroom.
This little doohickey is the next revision of the Dex Station which was released with the Samsung Galaxy/Note 8 series. This version, released with the Galaxy 9 series - requires any 8 series devices to have Android Oreo as a base release for the OS for backwards compatibility.
It supports up to 2K resolution, has a built in cooling fan, and uses a platform based docking form factor, instead of a puck-shaped vertical factor. It makes a lot of sense actually, as it lets the phone be used as a trackpad or keyboard as required, should no extra input devices be available. It's a very clever idea, one that I'm sure would be welcome to a lot of semi-mobile workstation users.
I'm actually writing this post at around about midnight, and it's quite late, having just received the device to take a look at, the initial overall impression of the device, having spent about 10 minutes with it.
First off, this is what the browser looks like, running on a 1080p screen:
It's perfectly usable, and I have no issues writing posts (in fact, this very post is being written via the Dex) for my blog, or doing basically productivity work. Where the big test comes in, will be on remote streaming for desktop, and gaming.
Dex MAX - an invaluable tool
So, to my horror, a lot of the apps on Dex don't support full screen resolution - including Microsoft RDP. To fix this, I actually had to download this 3rd party companion application, Dex MAX - it's a life saver. I probably would have returned the Dex Pad if this app did not exist.
It tries to force the apps to run full screen, and if it doesn't work - you can enter expert mode and modify the manifests in the APKs to force a full screen mode! If that doesn't work, then the devs will need to add native full screen support in a new version of the app.
Remote Desktop (Microsoft RDP Client)
As one of the primary reasons for an enterprise environment etc, I know a lot of organisations out there use Citrix, VMWare, etc. but you'd think that getting basic Dex support with Microsoft would be a key step. Especially considering how prolific the operating system is...
However, no, it doesn't work without being modded by Dex MAX. Here's a screenshot of it working in Dex MAX:
Now, it works perfectly fine as an RDP client, meaning about 90% of what I do is sorted. Productivity wise, I can scrape by as well as needed!
So all in all, it's a pretty stable experience. It's not the ultimate replacement, but for everything non-entertainment wise or just general browsing, it's fine. It's usable, and I probably will use it.
In part 2 - I'll update my findings on gaming, which works (with many many caveats).