My Little Corner of the Net

The Samsung Desktop Experience

I stumbled on this Gizmodo article last night and learned something about my phone that I didn’t know. Apparently every Samsung phone (at least in the Galaxy series) since the Galaxy S8 has a feature built into it called DeX, or the Desktop Experience, that allows you to use the device as a desktop by plugging it in to an HDMI display. Older devices required DeX-specific hardware for it to woek, but new devices, including my S20, can do it with any USB-C to HDMI adapter.

Since I have a couple of adapters that I use to connect my Macbook to my office monitors, I decided to try it out. After having to click through a couple of instruction screens the first time, my phone’s screen became a trackpad and a desktop that somewhat resembled a Linux desktop appeared on my monitor (yes, I know Android is built on Linux, so it technically is a Linux desktop). When I plugged a keyboard and mouse into the USB port on the adapter, my normal phone display came back up and I was able to continue to use it as normal, wth the monitor acting as second display.

On screen I’m able to access all of my apps, including a full screen version of Chrome, which I’m using to compose this post. It sort of reminds me of the Motorola Lapdock, except that, unlike with the Lapdock, you can still use the phone while it is teathered to the screen.

The interface is a little clunky–while keyboad shortcuts like Control-C an Control-V work, right clicking and long-clicking both don’t, so copying and pasting links and things is a bit of a pain. All in all, though, it works in a pinch. If I ever want to travel light (if I ever get to travel again), I could see myself bringing a small Bluetooth keyboard and an HDMI cable with me, so that I could plug in to a hotel’s TV when I needed something bigger than a phone screen, instead of having to lug a laptop around.

There’s also, appearently, a DeX for PC/Mac app that you can install on your desktop in order to access your DeX desktop on a running computer, sort of like accessing another machine over Remote Desktop. I haven’t tried this yet, but the article indicates that it allows for easy file sharing between the device and the computer. I may give it a try because, if it allows the phone’s audio to be played through the computer, it could be a handy solution for when I listen to podcasts while working. Currently, when I’m in the office (OK, so back in the olen ays when I worked in an office), I have to continuously switch my headphones between my computer and my phone when switching from Zoom meetings on the computer (or YouTube how-to videos) and my podcasts on my phone while I’m doing work. It’s not hard to do that, but it is a bit of a disruption, and DeX might be a solution to make the transition seemless.

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