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'Samsung Dex' Is a Galaxy S8 Dock That Turns Your Phone Into a Desktop (arstechnica.com) 99

Samsung has officially launched their new Galaxy S8 smartphone today, along with several different accessories. One of the accessories is the Samsung Dex, a dock that aims to replace your desktop computer with your phone. If the idea sounds familiar, it's because Microsoft attempted to do this with its Microsoft Display Dock that requires a Windows 10 Lumia 950 or 950 XL with Continuum and a USB-C connector. Given the abysmal market share of Windows 10 Mobile, it's no wonder the dock didn't take off. Samsung, on the other hand, may have more luck convincing users to get rid of their desktop in favor of the Dex. Andrew Cunningham provides some more details in his report via Ars Technica: Samsung hasn't announced pricing or a release date, and most of what we know comes from Samsung's presentation. The dock is small and circular, includes two USB ports and an HDMI port, and it is powered via USB-C (same as the S8 itself). The Verge reports that there's a small cooling fan inside the dock that presumably keeps the phone from throttling too much, enabling more desktop-y performance. The desktop UI looks mostly straightforward: there's a lock screen, a desktop, and a Windows or Chrome OS-esque taskbar with app icons on it. You can use apps full-screen or keep them in windows -- we're still talking about Android apps, and not all of them are well-suited to running on anything other than a phone or a small, narrow window.
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'Samsung Dex' Is a Galaxy S8 Dock That Turns Your Phone Into a Desktop

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  • I was going to make a snarky comment about the relatively low performance of phones vs more general purpose machines, but I am generally impressed with the performance of modern mid to high-end phones. If you can obtain performance similar to what was available on an average desktop in ~2005, but at a small fraction of the power consumption, that seems like a win to me.
    • I dunno, my phone (a Nexus 6, so no slouch) is nowhere near as fast as my desktop - especially when it comes to multitasking. Granted, it may rival a 2005 desktop... but really, 12 year old computers is the benchmark?

      I can see giving a phone a larger screen when to make some activities like watching movies more enjoyable, but it will be a long time before phone / mobile hardware is fast enough to satisfy me in a desktop environment. And anyone using their desktop or workstation for serious stuff - Photoshop

      • Re:Performance (Score:5, Informative)

        by danlor ( 309557 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2017 @07:54PM (#54139187) Homepage

        The nexus 6 is a total slouch. Modern phones such as the iphone 7 and the S8 are completely on par with midrange desktop systems. https://browser.primatelabs.co... [primatelabs.com]
        The A10 fusion is only slightly slower than an i7 6600U. This a completely reasonable solution. The S8 is even faster. It's a crazy new world we are in. At this rate... In the near future our phones will faster than our desktops lol

        • It doesn't matter how fast the phone's CPU is if it still runs a "kid stuff" OS and doesn't support virtualization.
        • It's a crazy new world we are in. At this rate... In the near future our phones will faster than our desktops lol

          It's not crazy, it's tragic. The death of Moore's law is what's causing this. Desktop processors are not advancing anywhere near the speed that they were, and mobile processors are closing the gap. I'm afraid our tech is plateauing, or at least, approaching a more linear rate of improvement.

          • We're banging against the physical limits of silicon, which is why Intel and other companies are trying to find a replacement that will allow finer litography.

            When that happens, we will see further increases in system power, instead of the relative plateuing we've been seeing for a couple of years.

            I recently bought a 5 year old Thinkpad T420 through a refurb dealer. It has a second-gen 2.5GHz i5 and keeps up just fine with anything I can throw at it, short of 3D games (mostly due to the Intel integrated gra

          • by dfghjk ( 711126 )

            Desktop processors aren't advancing because there isn't a market that demands it. Server and mobile processors are advancing because their markets do. It has nothing to do with Moore's law or your interpretation of it.

            While mobile processors (and platforms) have improved greatly, they are still limited by battery technology and thermals, neither of which are subject to "Moore's law". Meanwhile, "our tech" improves as rapidly as it ever has, just not your small view of it.

            • Server, laptop and desktop processors basically use the same technology. (AMD is retiring its Jaguar CPUs, too)
              Desktop CPU have to run somewhere between 3.0 and 4.5 GHz, so they run at quite a higher voltage than laptop parts and power use increases quadratically with voltage. Then, Intel and OEM want to maximise profits, so they aim for an arbitrary power limit like 65 watts (same way laptops mostly moved to 15 watts instead of 35 watts, because the cooling is cheaper)

              Desktops are moving right now to 8 cor

            • Desktop processors aren't advancing because there isn't a market that demands it.

              Please. Remember "640kb of RAM should be enough"? Even if there isn't a known market for it, that processing power will get eaten up quickly if provided. From 3D video, to AR, to multiple streams of interactive HD video, to deep learning algorithms ... there's plenty of market for more processing power. It's just getting harder and harder to get there. The move to mobile is a because of the death of Moore's law not the cause of it.

        • The A10 fusion is only slightly slower than an i7 6600U.

          Wait? What?!? Why are even even using i7's then? From a power usage perspective, you'd be better off using an A10.

          • With such statements you don't know if they benched some 1980s "drhystones" that fit entirely in L1 cache, and moreover we now have severe distortions because the phones are severely thermally constrained.
            If benchmark only runs for 2 or 5 minutes, phone might keep up with the PC. If benchmark runs for one hour, phone might be 3x slower than the PC (very rough order of magnitude statement there). It also depends on room temperature, air conditioning or other measures.

        • Closed source, for profit benchmark tool that doesn't even say what the tests are? Do NOT trust.

          But even if you do...

          My ancient bricktop (thinkpad W510), interpolating lists of scores, still comfortably beats that A10 benchmark wise, has 16GB of RAM (compared to 2) and I think 750GB of flash disks. It'll take a lot more: it takes an internal 2.5" SSD and another SSD in the drive bay.

          It's still got a decent chunk of RAM for a laptop, and runs multiple VMs happily. On really heavy stuff (mostly web browsing s

        • by dfghjk ( 711126 )

          "The nexus 6 is a total slouch. Modern phones such as the iphone 7 and the S8 are completely on par with midrange desktop systems."

          Your reference does not include any data to support the claim that the S8 is "completely on par with midrange desktop systems". The claim is also misleading as "completely on par with" must be interpreted as "the fastest phones ever" are significantly slower than desktops from 2 years ago.

          If you take Android phones, the subject of this article, the benchmark you chose shows the

      • You with your 32GB RAM and 4TB hard disk aren't the target.

        Those of us who no longer do 'serious stuff' would find an octa-core machine with 4GB RAM more than adequate, e.g. the iPad Pro crowd. Indeed one of these phones has better specs than the Core 2 Duo laptop I'm typing this from.

      • Granted, it may rival a 2005 desktop... but really, 12 year old computers is the benchmark?

        The point is that the performance of a desktop computer 12 years ago was perfectly adequate for the majority of tasks for most people.

  • Not really new (Score:5, Informative)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2017 @07:33PM (#54139033)

    >"If the idea sounds familiar, it's because Microsoft attempted to do this with its Microsoft Display Dock that requires a Windows 10 Lumia 950 or 950 XL with Continuum and a USB-C connector"

    Nice try giving MS "innovation", but that is not the only example. This has been tried before in many various ways over the years. Here are just a few:

    https://www.technobuffalo.com/... [technobuffalo.com]

    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/d... [makeuseof.com]

    http://maruos.com/ [maruos.com]

    http://www.ubergizmo.com/2014/... [ubergizmo.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And the Atrix4G Laptop dock before these.

      http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Motorola-ATRIX-4G-Laptop-Dock-Review_id2667

    • Here's a Kickstarter keyboard screen which uses your phone as the processor.
      https://www.kickstarter.com/pr... [kickstarter.com]

    • Don't forget about the Ubuntu Edge phone concept, that was announced in 2013, but failed to meet its Kickstarter funding goal. Ubuntu Phone [indiegogo.com]
      • Don't forget about the Ubuntu Edge phone concept, that was announced in 2013, but failed to meet its Kickstarter funding goal. Ubuntu Phone [indiegogo.com]

        I meant Indiegogo. I'm too used to use kickstarter as a generic term.

  • Regardless of whether or not it "took off", I wasn't aware of the Windows 10 phone dock. Super cool. The Microsoft one is much more appealing to me, at least, because I don't have to give Google all of my personal information as part of the deal. That, and MS hardware tends to be very good (and not explosve).
  • Storage would be an issue. I doubt whether such a phone-and-dock combination would have enough space to contain my Library of Congress sized collection of pron.

  • Given Android has zero fucking multitasking capability, it's simply not ready for the desktop, period.

    Come back to me when you can get your web browser to not need to reload a fucking image already stored in RAM, you incompetent 'Droid programmers.

  • They're still 3-5 generations too early for this... the performance of phones simply isn't up to snuff yet, but it's getting there very quickly.

    I'm sure a few folks will buy it, but there's no way it'll be common place before 2020.

    • by murdocj ( 543661 )

      but by the time it "gets there" the desktop will have moved on. Hard for the phone to hit a moving target.

    • Face it. There are very few people who need desktop power. Email, web browser, word processing doesn't need much CPU. That's why Chromebooks are just fine for most people.

      • by ttsai ( 135075 )

        Face it. There are very few people who need desktop power. Email, web browser, word processing doesn't need much CPU. That's why Chromebooks are just fine for most people.

        You're right that current low-end systems offer sufficient performance for many users. Of course, if I'm used to using a high-end system, then the slightly lower performance of the lesser system will noticeably bug me.

        But more than performance, the real issue is features. The phone is crippled relative to the desktop due to screen space, input devices, OS/platform features, and application features. Of these, the screen space is the least important. Having a mouse and keyboard makes a huge difference in

        • by mspohr ( 589790 )

          Good points. You really need multiple windows, etc.
          It will be interesting to see how Samsung handles these issues.

  • If not, fuck off.

  • I just wish that it was easier to find out if one's phone supported MHL or not. I really like my Kyocera Duraforce XD and I've used a bluetooth keyboard with it as needed and I've used USB-OTG for serial to network device console ports, it would be swell if it could do MHL but I haven't found any documentation either way and I don't want to start speculatively buying cables.

    • Don't bother maybe. The more generic solution might be USB to HDMI (or VGA) chips / adapters i.e. real, digital and plain USB, not "random signal over USB connector". Displaylink is a company that makes (most?) such chips

  • by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2017 @08:01PM (#54139247)
    Do that, launch some big integer factorization, and watch your phone burst into flames. Most fitting for Samsung.
  • The crowd goes mild. Raspberry Pi performance, coming to a gastraphagus near you.
  • Wouldn't it be possible to just have a USB-C Hub plugged in to the monitor, power supply, etc., and then connect the hub to the phone?

    This is probably going to cost $150, and at that price it makes far more sense just to buy a cheap Android computer, or one of those Intel computer sticks, or something....mass produced, surely Samsung could have thrown in some kind of hub to every single phone they sold.

  • Why stream to two devices? Solutions already exist for pretty much any and all use-case scenarios as-is, and BT is simply utter shit for audio in the first place. I went so far as to root my Droid phone and remove all BT capability (the battery life is fucking wonderful, now,) because it's simply useless garbage.

    • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2017 @09:21PM (#54139641)

      See, and I think the inability to multiplex bluetooth is a big limitation. Why shouldn't I be able to "broadcast" BT audio to multiple paired devices or "receive" BT audio on one device from multiple transmitters?

      The obvious example is switching headphones between a phone and PC -- why do you have to do it it all? Why couldn't you get audio from both PC and phone to a single headphone without some switchover dance?

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        Just use an FM transmitter. I have FM receivers in all of my rooms. Hey, look, there's one device transmitting to my entire house without needing to pair, and with much higher bandwidth. It's also a very cheap to implement solution, and does pretty much jack shit to your battery life to boot (since it will have its own or external power supply.)

  • I just worry that this might be a tad premature.
    Using a phone to drive a desktop might cook the phone a bit.
    Lithium batteries tend to destabilize around heat I have heard.

    Wonder if by making your phone do this you are killing off your phone earlier than it should be dead.

  • Well, I do. I was one of the people who bought into the Motorola Atrix and its Lapdock... the latter I still have sitting around here and I'll probably hook up a Raspberry Pi to it soon so I can put it to use.

    What I don't get with this these days is why. What's the use case? Let's review why you might want this;

    * Having all your data in one place and up-to-date: Hasn't "cloud" stored documents kind of made this irrelevant? I have two cellphones (one for work, one personal... it's a choice thing) and I alrea

  • Keyboard and mouse, and can run photoshop, with the performance of my PC, THEN I might consider it. Otherwise, forget it.
    • Use a "dockable" phone and run an RDP client or X11 server to your PC

    • by joemck ( 809949 )

      It's not supposed to be a desktop replacement. Mobile tech simply isn't there yet. However, it does have a place. It would be quite nice for travel to be able to use a small gadget to plug your phone into a keyboard, mouse and monitor or TV, and have something in between phone and desktop. You could check email, write documents, browse the web, use webapps, write and compile code, etc., all on a larger more comfortable screen than your phone can offer, and without the travel weight or bulk of a laptop. You

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