As mentioned in part 1 of The Samsung Dex Pad posts - I'm looking into cloud gaming with the Dex Pad as well. It's so far provided a pretty good solution for working via RDP solutions, with a few (so far) trivial issues. This part covers a little more in-depth overview of the issues I’m currently facing with the Dex Pad...

Mouse Capture Issues

My weapon app of choice when it comes to streaming my desktop is Parsec - it’s worked amazingly well for 1080p 60fps cloud streaming from my Notebook so far, but unfortunately, while Parsec works great, and keeps my mouse nicely within the confines of the specified 1080p resolution; I have mouse tracking issues in FPS games, unfortunately. It’s somewhat annoying and upsetting that gaming doesn’t work correctly, however some Google-fu has shown me that it’s most likely a Samsung Dex issue, and really - there’s no telling when it’ll be fixed.

To see if things were just a Parsec issue, I also ended up downloading the Moonlight Gamestream app which is based on a FOSS version of NVIDIA’s Shield streaming tech (I luckily, run a GeForce 1080Ti video card).

To test my FPS gaming purposes - I decided to pick a game of Rust, which really, is quite asking for punishment, haha!

Turn around...

In Parsec, things did not go well ™. I couldn’t turn a full 360 degrees, and had to find myself lifting my mouse off the pad to do the tiny-mouse-pad-shuffle on my giant deskmat just to turn around a little bit.

Every now and then I get a little bit nervous...

Things were worryingly bad audio wise too, with sound crackling, and some blurring of texturing every now and then, so I suspect I was having WiFi bandwidth issues. I’ll need to test a fix (probably in a Part 3) of a USB hub and usb-to-Ethernet adapter.

Turn around...

Things were even worse trying to turn in Moonlight - I completely lost Mouse Capture abilities - although my mouse buttons for left/right-click were working. Keyboard input was fine, however.

Every now and then I get a little bit terrified...

And then my first PvP moment came. Almost instantly my attacked realized I couldn’t turn around, and to add to insult, he started taunting me over voice chat in-game. And here’s the other problem, I had no mic support. This is more a combination of the Dex and Parsec/Moonlight’s support for the devices.

Some fiddling required!

There's a lot of work that's needed in Samsung Dex (Pad). For example, not every sort of keyboard shortcut is pulled across to the Dex, sure the common ones are (ctrl + c, ctrl + v); but input gets entangled when I typed too fast for the Dex (I type about 130wpm) and why is shift + spacebar a shortcut for what language I'm using on my keyboard?? A quick Google search shows I'm not alone in being annoyed at this, and I've ended up having to download a separate app to just tweak and deal with Dex's shortcomings.

It's annoying, and the product is a work in progress I suppose - from a developer's standpoint, I doubt there's any reasonable way for the Samsung engineers to spend time working out the configurations that every user ever will need out of the Dex. But you'd think Korea's largest company would have some resources for internationalization and basic research. It just wasn't enough.

Here's two apps that saved my Dex experience, and to top it off, I had to pay moneyfor one of them, which made me even more upset.

  • Dex MAX - this app lets me repackage the APKs of other Apps as needed to fit full screen
  • Desktop Hub (Dex Hub) - I had to pay $3.99 to unlock the 'Pro' version of this app, which helped me reconfigure a bunch of Dex built-in keyboard shortcuts, volume/screen usability tweaks and more

On top of all the shenanigans above, I've now also needed to enable developer mode which really, is a hugely unnecessary (albeit probably inevitable in terms of the lifetime of my ownership of the Note 8 and an Android phone) step. While I have no doubt that at some point in the future I would have enabled this mode and stuck my hand up the Note 8's proverbial skirt, it annoys me that I have to do this for a first party accessory, just to get some applications to behave properly, and enable greater usability in app window management!

So, what does work?

Remote desktop works - be it through either Parsec (preferred) or via Microsoft's RDP App inside Dex MAX for fullscreen compatibility. So there is that at least; it means I can do my work, designs, and projects as needed.

Natively, there's Microsoft Office which all works completely fine on the Dex, it's optimised for Dex in fact and I didn't have any problems using it - being a near identical experience to the real desktop applications. Mad props to Microsoft for putting so much effort into their Office suite!

Plex also kind of works. I have to use the browser based version to watch my media, and it's got some odd re-sizing issues (full screen mode goes black after about 10 seconds). Netflix actually works very well once developer mode and 'True Window' mode from Desktop Hub is enabled. The subtitles even seem clearer than the native apps on iOS and Playstation!

In the end...

Will I be using the Dex Pad? Yes. To keep it short and sweet, the Dex Pad lets me do a lot, with a thin client, without the extra hassle of a laptop. The 'extra computing power' of a laptop is moot for the situation I want to use it in (explicitly, as a thin client to do computing from my bedroom should I need it). I can enjoy most of my media, and all the productivity I might need with it.

Samsung is going to have to go more than halfway across the bridge to entice devs to start making products that work with it. Once the ball gets rolling though, look out Apple and Microsoft!

Gaming does work, but not entirely well. But there are some games which do, and gamepad gaming still works a treat so I'm not completely without. Admittedly, this is being used as a Cloud Gaming terminal, which I must stress the Dex was not intended for. In fact, even if it were intended for gaming as it mentions in passing, cloud based gaming would've been the last thing on their minds.

Again though, it's an adventure and hassle in configuration that shows an incomplete experience with incredible potential. The Dex is the closest desktop replacement I've gotten for a non-PC/laptop device. And I so eagerly want to love it and use it that I'm even doing so now, and will be going ahead with using it for a lot of my evening computing.

But I cannot stress how impossible it would be, without already owning a beast of a PC, strenuous setup with the Cloud Citizen project, and a lot of compromises on my behalf to accept how things work. I am using the Dex far beyond the scope of Enterprise applications (essentially office productivity suite level applications). Studio applications work to some extent, I can see orthographic based 3D-applications working well here; using Unreal Engine Editor, Unity 3D, ZBrush, and Google Sketchup gave me quite a few headaches with mouse movement syncing working only partially.

I cannot recommend this product to anyone else. But I respect what Samsung's trying to achieve here, and I personally will remain interested (and a user) in the Dex product lineup as we continue on into the future. There's a lot of promise here, and Samsung could well have a golden ticket to a much much larger install base instantly, with the possibilities the Dex provides.

It just needs that extra support from the app developers, and more of Samsung's own resources thrown at it too. It's a great platform, but Samsung is going to have to go more than halfway across the bridge to entice devs to start making products that work with it. Once the ball gets rolling though, look out Apple and Microsoft!