back to article DeX Station: Samsung's Windows-killer is ready for prime time

Well, no one saw this one coming. Samsung has succeeded where Microsoft and HP have struggled (so far) in turning a phone into a PC. When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S8 last month, its new multimode capability DeX (for "desktop experience") barely got a mention. With a new dock, the DeX Station, the Galaxy could plug into a …

  1. d3rrial

    Linux

    Can it run generic Linux software without the termux app?

    Does it have a built in Terminal and/or GNU utilities?

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Happy

      I think you mean:

      But can i wipe it and put a PROPER linux on there?!?!

      1. Mr.Bill

        Re: I think you mean:

        Come on. There's no shortage of devices to run "GNU based OS with Linux kernel" on. Who actually does anything with them beyond the install phase - "look ma, linux is running on this <fill in the blank>!". Just get a raspberry PI and leave the dex alone.

        1. boltar

          Re: I think you mean:

          "Just get a raspberry PI and leave the dex alone."

          Good luck making phone calls on that. I can see his poiint - it would be nice to have a phone thats also a fully fledged linux computer with full functionality, not functionality limited to what the manufacturer thinks is appropriate. For some reason people seem to have this mindset that its ok to limit what we can do on our own phones we've paid for, yet suggest doing the same with PCs and they reach for the pitchforks. A bit of cognitive dissonance going on perhaps.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Linux

      Can it run generic Linux software

      Such as what? It's running Android which isn't GPL Linux.

      1. 27escape

        Re: Linux

        There are plenty of apps that give you a terminal and the ability to 'run' a linux environment, try https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.termux, plenty more available, some require root and some do not. Not all linux tools are available, certainly not GUI ones, but some can then be run within Xvnc or similar, a reasonable smattering of command line tools are available, perl, python, vi etc. However there is limited access to storage, which does make some things more difficult.

        Definitely worth a few hours of investigation/play

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: Linux

          I wonder if it will run "The Weeping Angel" distro that Samsung/NSA was infamously know for ?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Linux

          termux will run on an android tv too; sony for one.

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Linux

        "Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google, based on the Linux kernel and designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets."

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_(operating_system)

      3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Linux

        > It's running Android which isn't GPL Linux.

        Yes, it is "GPL Linux".

        """Prominent free software programs licensed under the GPL include the Linux kernel."""

        You probably meant "GNU/Linux" which includes both the Linux kernel and GNU software. No, Android does not come standard with a complete set of GNU software, but it is readily installable if required. For example there are several terminal apps in the Play Store that give GNU command line programs as well as Midnight Commander, GCC and other development software. Or you can go full X GUI with:

        https://www.fossmint.com/install-run-linux-on-android-device/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linux

      Does it have a built in Terminal and/or GNU utilities?

      If you were Samsung, would those be on your list of priorities? For DeX to be a success it has to work well and easily for numpty users, it has to play nicely with 99% of Android apps, it has to work almost flawlessly with MS Office Android apps, and cloud data hosts. A bit of casual gaming will also be a market necessity. But I can't see that non-Android Linux compatibility is going to be something that makes of breaks DeX.

      We've seen Continuum, and that had promise, but you had to use MS phones, which were for me a dark niche. It wouldn't be the first time that MS tout a concept that doesn't get traction, and then a few years later somebody else actually makes it work properly. I've not seen much other than this press article, and certainly not seen this in the flesh, but I have to say that I'm really pleased to see something this interesting being delivered by Samsung.

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: Linux

        "it has to work well and easily for numpty users"

        That's why the keyboard shortcuts in the article all seem to show that common key that appears on every keyboard, 'META".

        Well, I say "every keyboard", except that every single PC keyboard I've ever bought, including the weird Japanese gamer keyboard that I got direct from Japan(1), has totally lacked that key. I haven't seen it on Mac keyboards either.

        (1) Of course, its layout was all messed up because even with a JP layout loaded, none of the unusual punctuation keys worked correctly, but I eventually figured out that inside, it is "106-key" (but in a compact, laptop-like format), and I hadn't configured it correctly.

        1. LifeWulf

          Re: Linux

          The "META" key is the Windows key. Which most keyboards have, and I assume there's an equivalent key on Macs.

          Source: I've used multiple Linux distributions before and they all call it that.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Linux

            On Macs, it's called the Command key (next to the Alt with the loopy symbol). It's technically different from the Win key, but Linux takes it a six of one and half a dozen of the other.

          2. Steve the Cynic

            Re: Linux

            OK, but how is the "numpty user" supposed to know that? Does it *say* META on it? Not on my keyboards. (And yeah, my weird Japanese gamer keyboard has a Windows key.)

            1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

              Re: Linux

              I think Sun keyboards had a key with just a diamond on them, and I'm sure DEC had something similar that even had similar functionality on the later VT terms in the gold key. It was actually fairly common on VMS to reprogram the entire numeric pad with shortcuts.

    4. TonyJ Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Linux

      "...Can it run generic Linux.."

      The Register's version of "Can it run Crysis?"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm still using an Osborne 1 hooked up to a Motorola DynaTAC, works perfectly well and easily pocket size. Who needs this newfangled stuff, sweat the asset.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
      Happy

      That's one hell of a pocket!

      Do you also have car batteries and a mains inverter in there as well?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >Do you also have car batteries and a mains inverter in there as well?

        Tut tut, certainly not. We live in the age of low carbon so I have a wind turbine hat and solar cell jumper to keep it charged.

        1. Roo
          Windows

          "We live in the age of low carbon so I have a wind turbine hat and solar cell jumper to keep it charged."

          Bravo Sir !

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          @AC

          I'm sorry!

          The Osboure 1 did not have batteries as standard. It needed mains power to operate. And quite a lot of that.

          Any battery pack was a 3rd party add-on.

        3. DropBear Silver badge

          "wind turbine hat and solar cell jumper to keep it charged"

          Genius! If you start selling a snazzy jacket with built-in solar cells disguised as epaulettes (with proper fringes and all that jazz) I bet it would sell like hotcakes!

    2. henryd

      Nerd! I'm still using my Olivetti Programa 101. No need for a new fangled display. Adding machine paper roll is all you need - but it is getting hard to find typewriter ribbons.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Happy

        I've still got (and use) an original Casio fx31 calculator. Does that count?

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Why would you need a dock?

    Keyboard and Mouse with Bluetooth, Screen and power via DisplayPort, HDMI, or Mirrorcast. If you're using DP or HDMI and the screen doesn't supply power then a dongle to add the charger's power supply to the USB-C cable should be about 20 quid?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Why would you need a dock?

      A dock adds a lot of convenience. You might as well ask why should notebooks have docking stations.

      I use Bluetooth and MHL a lot with my S5 and this means a certain amount of fiddling which would only be worse with a keyboard and a mouse.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why would you need a dock?

        Mr Clark, An S5 you say? You early adopting fashion-victim hipster!

        Some of us are still soldiering on with S3s. Although looking at this, I'm thinking that an S8 would be a worthy upgrade (after a compulsory whine about the fixed battery).

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Why would you need a dock?

          Mr Clark, An S5 you say? You early adopting fashion-victim hipster!

          I had to get a replacement when my S4 Mini got nicked. MHL was the reason for going with a second-hand, reconditioned S5. I have since splashed out on an SD card, the MHL connector, wireless charging kit, a second battery an OtterBox and Quadlock combi for mounting on the bike.

          TBH I think whines about fixed batteries are over done. For heavy use you can just take one of 6000 mAH packs with you.

          Anyway, got to go and wax my moustaches! ;-)

          1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: Anyway, got to go and wax my moustaches!

            How many do you own?

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Why would you need a dock?

            I stick with S5's and Note 4's because they were the last models to feature removable batteries. No phone without it is a hard point for me because I've personally replaced plenty of batteries from cell phones in my time. Why waste an otherwise useful phone or be held hostage to manufacturer eccentricities?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why would you need a dock?

          May I humbly suggest that you go to your favourite search engine and look at the results from this search

          S8 fragility

          especially this one

          https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15104372/glass-screen-smartphone-design-lg-g6-samsung-galaxy-s8

          Then think again about buying an S8. It might not be the wonder phone it is advertised as being.

          We shall have to wait to see if apple fall into the same trap.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why would you need a dock?

            "S8 fragility"

            Was reminded of that as I accidentally threw my caseless LG G4 across the pavement last weekend and watched it land face down on pavement. Didn't even scratch the flimsy screen protector. Clicked the back on and carried on a little more carefully. So far it's proved indestructible despite my best efforts to break drop and throw it around and I can live with the tiny bezels instead of fragile screen.

            1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

              Re: Why would you need a dock?

              My G4 rocks an Otterbox Defender. Since discovering this lovely product my MTBF for phones has gone from months to years.

              I like the idea of phone as PC, but want to know that the Otterbox will fit the dock, and want some outboard local storage - don't trust "the Cloud"

        3. DropBear Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Why would you need a dock?

          "Some of us are still soldiering on with S3s"

          As my "Yorkshiremen" entry, I'd like to submit my humble S2...

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Why would you need a dock?

        I understand it's convenience. But we all know what obligatory convenience is.

      3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Why would you need a dock?

        "A dock adds a lot of convenience. "

        £129 worth of convenience?

      4. Infernoz Bronze badge
        Meh

        Re: Why would you need a dock?

        Equipment specific docks are klunky, too expensive and only really useful for higher-bandwidth uses like multiple displays and multiple full speed USB3.0 sockets, and maybe security; some docks (Lenovo laptop) don't even lock reliably!

        I have a Dell USB3.0 dock at home with a lot more ports, which can even drive a 4K monitor, for a lot cheaper than this or a Lenovo specific laptop one!

        Tablets and mobiles should have supported USB3.0 years ago, including for OTG, for proper fast data transfer (USB2.0 is pathetically slow), then they could also use commodity USB3.0 OTG docks with video, and possibly even use a PC USB3.0 dock, via a USB3.0 OTG adapter with charger Y input.

    2. Alumoi

      Re: Why would you need a dock?

      Hmm, sound like my Moto Xoom setup I use on holidays.

  4. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice work

    After putting it through its paces, I'm hugely impressed.

    Given that Andrew's default reviews of Samsung's stuff is scathing this is praise indeed. A good review but the only thing I don't understand is the "flip the lid" open because there doesn't seem to be a picture of it.

    The price for the dock seems comparable to notebook docks and the implementation especially with keyboard shortcuts seems so much better than the normal v1s we tend to see. It's obvious that Samsung has taken the criticism of TouchWiz and some of its other offerings seriously and has got most of the details right here.

    Assuming they can continue to improve on the details they should profit handsomely from being first-movers in this space. Apple will probably have to have something similar for the next I-Phone to remain credible in the enterprise space, but it's MS and Intel who should be most worried!

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Nice work

      Charlie :-)

      I thought the Galaxy S7 got almost everything right - there was no contest in that price category. If it was a boxing match the referee would have stopped the fight.

      TouchWiz is not the problem with the S8, it's Blixby and all the other slurping. And the insane position of the fingerprint sensor. But I'll post the write-up soon...

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Nice work

        Ah, the fingerprint sensor.

        Samsung have nailed their colours to the mast and put it on the back.

        Will Apple fail to put it on the front and copy Samsung?

        Who will be copying whom then? Do Samsung have a patent on the Sensor on the Back?

        Fun times ahead.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Nice work

        I thought the Galaxy S7 got almost everything right

        Weren't you even more enamoured of the Note 7 until the battery problems proved unresolvable? In any case I was referring to your scepticism about companies like Samsung making money from Android devices. While there is always the risk that Google will try and each their lunch, Google's own hardware offerings always seem to stop short. But this looks very much like what the Chromebook should have been: "kids stick your phones in the docking stations and go to chapter 1".

      3. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Nice work

        I thought the Galaxy S7 got almost everything right - there was no contest in that price category. If it was a boxing match the referee would have stopped the fight.

        Close. I'd say Note 7 had almost everything right. Shame it didn't have removable battery or I wouldn't have had to send it back. Allegedly Samsung did consider selling refurbed Note 7s as a method of recycling. Sadly I've not heard anything more on that. I suppose hoping to get them in UK is too much to ask (if that idea ever materialises in the first place).

      4. Reliance

        Re: Nice work

        "And the insane position of the fingerprint sensor."

        It is actually more convenient if you just loop your finger over the top and scan from left to right feeling for the edge.

        And it recognizes the fingerprint upside down. I had registered my fingerprint by turning the phone around when I got it. But now that I loop over the top, it still recognizes it, even though the finger lands upside down!

  5. Sampler

    Interesting...

    Especially if the microsoft remote desktop app works well, making the phone a dumb terminal to one of the many desktops I rdp on a daily basis will completely remove the need for my laptop..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting...

      I'm thinking along similar lines. When wfh I use citrix, to connect with VDI windows 7. Doesn't matter what you connect with, normally I use a big PC, but an ancient Linux lappy works fine (esp. during the summer months on Friday afternoons). Although I don't see losing my home PC for the foreseeable, as phones get more and more powerful, this starts to become something that might be interesting. Would need to drive 2 displays for me.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Failure

    So Continuum failed because it couldn't run Win32 apps, and not all UWP apps can run on the phone hardware, but this will succeed because "it's Java and the apps are portable", even though the same Win32 apps that people expect on their desktop still won't run, and as it later goes on to show, DeX aware apps (the only ones that run properly on this) have to be highlighted specially, and there's not many of them.

    It just seems to me Samsung have the exact same problem as MS - they need to encourage desktop developers to target their phone OS's to make it work together. MS had the advantage of a common toolset and API being available for desktop and mobile, but Samsung have the advantage of Android being a popular environment on it's own. But I don't see how the same major issue can be the downfall of one platform and the saviour of another.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Failure

      The difference between Continuum and DeX is that Continuum is a crippled attempt to make Windows Phone relevant, all the while with MS doing its best to bury the platform. DeX on the other hand is a very useful addition to a phone people might already have or be thinking of buying. This is called marginal utility and a very good way of selling something. Samsung is soon going to own a new "convertible" category in much the same way Apple made the smartphone and tablet market its own.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Failure

        Er... What about the Surface? Isn't that supposed to be the best convertible on the market?

        Actually, I wouldn't know as I've never seen one in action.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Failure

          What about the Surface? Isn't that supposed to be the best convertible on the market?

          What, in as something you can stick in your pocket and turn into a full-fat desktop device as required?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One thing...

    ...it shows Word, PowerPoint etc, but surely this are the run of the mill scaled down versions you get on the phone, not the full blown versions?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait - it runs Microsoft Office??

    That could sell the phone by itself.

    Ah, but this is an Android phone. What chance is there that MS Word, Excel or Powerpoint for Android work anything like the corresponding desktop apps?

    About as much as Office 365 in-browser versions of these apps do.

  9. LDS Silver badge

    All of these demos...

    .... just show an empty desktop, some settings, and at most a browser. Could we see more useful applications open at once?

  10. sal II

    Windows-killer

    Ahh, Windows-killer, now if I can only remember where have I heard that before...

    This seems like a nice product and there is definitely a future for it, but it's not doing anything to even scratch the two biggest Windows strongholds - Corporate/Enterprise and PC gaming. The first dislikes change for various reasons and the second is firmly entrenched.

    The major downside of Windows 10 is data collection/snooping and forced updates, otherwise it's a perfectly good OS. How is this any different with Samsung's Dex?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Windows-killer

      Seoul is nearer North Korea.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Windows-killer

      In Samsung's case, the difference is they probably forgot to turn on SSL.

  11. J J Carter Silver badge
    Windows

    Actually...

    If it could host a virtual machine running Windows 10 for ARM running Win 32 apps under x86 emulation, they'd really have something.

    All-be-it something that ran quite slowly

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Actually...

      Use RDP to a server for that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Actually...

        Or VNC to Linux or OSX. Or SSH/Mosh to a tmux.

        Of course, if that's your main goal, you don't need a docking station. You can do that today with a bluetooth keyboard/mouse, and an HDMI cable or Miracast or similar.

  12. Chronos Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    ORLY?

    Well, no one saw this one coming.

    April 5th 2016:

    "Even us lUNatIX appreciate a full-sized desktop. However, the headshot to MS' dominance may come in the form of Android N[ougat|utbrittle]'s windowing multi-tasking. Imagine you can take your 'phone, with it's eight ARM64 cores, oodles of RAM and 3D graphics, and plug it into (or sit it on top of, with an inductive charger and some optical trickery as a data link) a hub with mouse, keyboard, NIC and an HDMI link to a proper monitor."

    Nice to know I'm no one. Perhaps I can get a job in Braavos...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: ORLY?

      Don't feel bad. Some of us have also been predicting that the basic PC for users is going to be a phone that docks.

      With predictable down votes as well.

    2. Mad Hacker

      Re: ORLY?

      Everyone knows your phone will replace a desktop PC in the future. I believe what he was referring to was that Samsung would get there with a solid solution before HP, Microsoft, et al.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: ORLY?

        Call me when it can do Crysis acceptably. Then it'll have the raw horsepower to get most things done, even the occasional game and encoding job. Then PCS will really become a niche item.

        PS. You can't RDP to a computer that doesn't exist for you.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: ORLY?

          The idea of using your phone as a desktop is cute, but the small size and low cost of a discrete ARM or X86 computer that plugs into a monitor and keyboard offer some advantages - for starters, you can pick up your phone to make a call, and also you have a redundant device should one develop a fault. Say you lost your phone - you could still use the discrete 'compute stick' to track or remote-wipe your phone.

  13. IGnatius T Foobar
    Linux

    This will usher in...

    ...the year of Linux on the desktop!

    Seriously though, this could be a big deal if it's done right and has enough takeup. As a home office dweller I would love to have nothing but a phone (and its monitors and keyboard) on my desk. Everything I do is already running from our servers anyway.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: This will usher in...

      Linux in the cradle, for now...

  14. Ol' Grumpy

    I like the idea but I'm still not paying nearly £700 for a phone :)

    1. d3vy

      At this point you're not paying £700 for a phone, you're paying for a fully fledged computer that fits in your pocket and has an app to let you phone people.

  15. Dirty Dean

    As an Ubuntu user, I think this was same thing Canonical were driving at with their Ubuntu Touch phone OS and "convergence" plans, before they abandoned them back in March.

    Looking at some the screen shots have me thinking the desktop looks like KDE.

    Hats off to Samsung, I like the look of it.

  16. Updraft102 Silver badge

    "...Slack and Evernote are UWP apps in the Windows 10 Store but for desktop only, so after you dock your phone they don't open on your main display: the phone versions aren't multimode."

    Seriously?

    The entire point of UWP on the desktop (and trying to force everyone into 10) is to try to get independent app devs to start writing apps that will work on Windows phones by telling the app devs (who are understandably reluctant to write for platforms with almost no users) that all those desktop Windows 10 users out there are just dying to run phone apps on their PCs, and it doesn't even WORK? The few independent devs that write UWP apps, the devs that are supposed to be making phone apps that also run on PCs, aren't even doing it?

    That's just... sad, in a schadenfreude-causing kind of way. After how badly they've treated their PC customers in pursuit of this very goal, it would be poetic justice for it to fail in such a spectacular way. At what point will Microsoft realize they've failed and quit trying to force a phone UI on the desktop?

    Perhaps they never will... too proud to admit such a failure, they'll continue to push a phone UI on desktops and tell us that it's really better that way, even long past the point where there is any practical use for such a thing to exist in Windows at all. That, and the forced updates, the spying, the ads, and all of the other terrible stuff that we've been asking, pleading, insisting, demanding Microsoft fix, while they deliver 3d Paint programs and gaming modes instead. It's like we're in the Monty Python "spam" sketch, only in this case "spam" is all that stuff I mentioned above.

    1. d3vy

      ""...Slack and Evernote are UWP apps in the Windows 10 Store but for desktop only, so after you dock your phone they don't open on your main display: the phone versions aren't multimode."

      Seriously?"

      Yes, seriously, if the developers dont develop the apps to allow multi mode then they wont work on multi mode environments - I dont see that as a failing of the OS. That said MS really should have pushed continuum more than it did/does - it is one of the features that would really make me willing to pay more for a phone - to the extent that Im considering the s8 now having made do with an HTC One for the last 4 years.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I dont see that as a failing of the OS."

        I do. They could have made non-multimode aware apps run in a smaller window, more apt to the small screen. Easily, and from the OS perspective. The "multimode apps" are merely the tablet versions of the apps enabled for the Dex display. There is no magic new shiny here. It's not even Linux on a phoned-in desktop, it's Android on the big scree, for what that's worth. Let's see how many security updates the device receives in it's lifetime... this is Samsung. The abandoned hardware champs. :P

        1. d3vy

          "They could have made non-multimode aware apps run in a smaller window, more apt to the small screen"

          But then there would be no incentive for developers to create proper multi mode apps. Its a fine line.

          I agree though that it would have made a difference to continuum if it did this.

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        It's a failure of the whole incentive system. To have app devs take the bait and write UWP apps, but still not end up with any that can do what the entire thing's supposed to be about... well, that's just Microsoft deserves, at this point.

  17. Lomax
    FAIL

    What exactly is the imagined use case here? I fail to see how lugging around an unwieldy docking station plus charger, plus keyboard, plus screen, plus mouse, plus laptop (you *will* still need yours, and its charger), is any more convenient than just the laptop. If you're going to borrow someone's screen and keyboard to do a bit of typing on your S8, why not borrow their computer? It won't be much use without those bits attached anyway. As far as I can see the only thing you get for your £129 is an inconvenience lumbered with an inferior crippleware OS. An X series Thinkpad replaces all those extra bits, with your OS of choice, weighs less, runs faster, and needs no unplugging/plugging/unplugging/replugging...

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      "I fail to see how lugging around an unwieldy docking station"

      I see you're unfamiliar with docking stations.

      Docking stations are supposed to be stationary. You come into the office, place your phone into the docking cradle and suddenly your keyboard, mouse, monitor, network and other peripherals are connected, and your phone is charged at the same time. Many business people use their laptops that way because it is a convenience.

      If this Samsung ecosystem has good enough applications that scale well on different monitors, and every software is also keyboard and/or mouse aware then why not, especially if you already have bought the expensive S8 since the cradle doesn't add up that much to the total cost.

      Samsung can still fuck this all up in many ways.

      1. Lomax

        "Office"... wassat?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Office"... wassat?" said the NHS user for the last few days .....

          1. Lomax
            Pint

            Mine is "Libre", as in free, as in free speech - and free beer of course.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              > Wouldn't it be great to have a standardised mechanical form factor and electrical interface for a credit-card sized compute module?

              Like Intel's Compute Card? They are trying to sell the idea to TV set vendors, as an easy way for users to upgrade the 'smart' innards. Of course, it is proprietary and not 'standard'. As I understand it, its capabilities are on a par with Intel's HDMI 'Compute Stick'

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I see you're unfamiliar with docking stations."

        Precisely. The user is supposed to buy a Dex dock for every place they visit; home, office, Jabba's Sand Barge, the Death Star lounge on deck 512A, your secret Japanese Nano-Hotel tube/room, etc. Also, every room in the Trump Towers Golf Resort On The Moon has them, so you're good to go there.

        1. captain veg

          I know I'm dreaming, but...

          Wouldn't it be great to have a standardised mechanical form factor and electrical interface for a credit-card sized compute module? Kind of like a supersized SIM card, but with a SoC, RAM and flash storage on board. You could plug it in to a touch screen that has cellular hardware to use it as a phone, or a larger version of same (possibly without the cell radios) to use as a tablet, or a docking station to make it a desktop PC. Hell, if it were really standard, why wouldn't all flat screens have the necessary interface? And then you wouldn't need to carry the docking kit with you; it would be ubiquitous. Best of all, there would be competition. You might have x86 modules up against ARM, your choice of operating system, mix and match the compute-power you need with the external form factor that fits your lifestyle.

          It'll never catch on.

          -A.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: I know I'm dreaming, but...

            "Wouldn't it be great to have..."

            Not sure if you're deliberately mocking EOMA68 or it's just a coincidence...

            1. captain veg

              Re: I know I'm dreaming, but...

              Complete coincidence.

              Both that and the Intel thing mentioned by Dave look promising, but there's a way to go before wither would fit into a phone chassis that people would want to use or buy. They're both too thick to fit a battery in the same enclosure. My dream evisages something much closer to a bare circuit board with a thin edge connector, more like a DIMM.

              Thanks to both for the heads up though.

              -A.

          2. D@v3

            Re: Captain my captain....

            I had a similar idea some 15 odd years ago back before (i was aware of) touchscreens and smartphones. A simple module, about the size of a laptop hard disk that could be plugged into a 'base station' an on said disk would be all your software and settings, internet favourites etc.. so that any computer you used would be 'your' computer. All through a 'standard' interface. If i recall, it was before USB was much of a thing. (blimey, well, maybe more like 20, time flies)

      3. Robert Sneddon

        What happens...

        "Docking stations are supposed to be stationary. You come into the office, place your phone into the docking cradle..."

        What happens if you arrive at the office and discover your phone is still at home/broken/riddled with viruses thanks to little Tarquin/ANother? Go home for the day?

        I suppose the office could have a few loaner phones for the careless or unlucky, or they could just have a cheap desktop PC attached to the peripherals the phone dock is connected to, with secure Ethernet connections to the company systems etc. and your phone is relegated to Facebook and Angry Birds duty during your break times. There's also less chance of someone walking out of the building with the customer contacts DB on their personal phone's internal storage...

        I can certainly see a use case for a phone dock like this at home but for businesses? Not really.

    2. d3vy

      "What exactly is the imagined use case here? I fail to see how lugging around an unwieldy docking station plus charger, plus keyboard, plus screen, plus mouse, plus laptop (you *will* still need yours, and its charger)"

      I don't think that the idea is that you carry the charger around with you.

      While you are right that there are times when you will need a laptop too there have been plenty of times where Ive been out without my laptop but could have done with access to a desktop like environment (Being called on holiday to fix issues on a server and having to RDP in over a 3G connection using a 5" screen was a particular favourite of mine) - I'd like to see a chromecast like device that plugs into the back of the monitor and allows this functionality wirelessly - much easier to chuck in a pocket/bottom of a bag as you leave the house - Still need a Bluetooth Kb and mouse though I suppose.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "I'd like to see a chromecast like device that plugs into the back of the monitor and allows this functionality wirelessly - much easier to chuck in a pocket/bottom of a bag as you leave the house - Still need a Bluetooth Kb and mouse though I suppose."

        Miracast receivers come close. They're about puck-shaped and you just need to set up a local hotspot, through the phone if need be.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    I would have wanted this

    But then Luke Klinker built the Pulse app. Kudos to Luke, that dude is a stinking genius.

  19. d3vy

    Need to know if this can drive a 4k screen (so requires hdmi 2.0)

    If so I might finally be able to justify getting rid of my aging HTC One

  20. Mage Silver badge

    Interesting

    My ancient Sony Z1 connects to mouse, keyboard and HDMI HD screen. But it's just like a big android tablet then. Not very useful compared to Linux / Mac / Windows laptop.

    This is the important bit.

    "with apps that rescale smartly to landscape format, overlapping windows and window management."

    Though really Android apps are mostly too limited or trivial. What would be more use is Android Apps and true desktop apps able to seamlessly share the app settings, bookmarks, dictionaries, data etc when you dock.

    I can only see this succeeding for desks that don't need real desktop applications. But ordinary consumers and some business users only use Web, apps/widgets and email anyway.

    Niche market.

    The point is that only the phone is mobile, the rest is only on one desk.

  21. Kaltern

    This is pretty much the future of computing. The Nintendo Switch does it, and this phone now does it. In fact, I would be very interested to see a new phone-with-dock, that, like the Switch, has extra processing 'oomph' in the dock, so when you have your phone and dock connected, you get a powerful desktop PC, capable of running all the apps you already do on your <chosen OS here> computer.

    In fact, I would go as far to say that, with the current trend from Microsoft to, well, be completely , that this might just be a opening for mobile software and hardware developers, to seize the moment. Assuming they can drop some of thedata slurping, and start advertising these things as private, safe, secure and all the rest of the things serious users would like to actually hear, I forsee a future without desktop machines.

    Let's face it, desktop GPU's and CPU's are great, but expensive. They cannot fit into a phone - it just can't happen. But stick them in a dock, and suddenly you have a platform of update-ability, where the dock could be upgraded separately from the phone itself. So you still get upgrades, and it'll still work with the dock of choice. The Switch proves this does actually work.

    I like this idea. I like desktop machines too, but I wonder how long it'll be before mobile phones have the same processing power than your desktop does. I'd wager it isn't all that far away.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > Let's face it, desktop GPU's and CPU's are great, but expensive. They cannot fit into a phone - it just can't happen. But stick them in a dock, ...

      ... and the dock will be just as expensive as a complete PC.

  22. kmac499

    Hmmm possible minor problemo...

    A great of idea of what by 80's 90's 00's standards is a supercomputer in your pocket, docked into a desk top keyboard and screen allowing some serious work to be done.

    I can foresee Cafes, Premier Inns, and Regus meeting rooms offering Dex-dock facilities in your rooms.

    But in the light of this weeks ransom attacks how long before some one hacks the Dock and it hijacks your phone.

  23. phands

    I have an S8+ and a Dex...it works really well!

    I used it as my desktop for a week at work, and it does everything I need - most work is done in browsers these days anyway. It won't totally replace my laptop - yet! But it's truly a usable stand-in.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      most work is done in browsers these days anyway

      ...really?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        By some definitions, yes. If we looked at 'most tasks done by most users' then browsers cover communication (email et al), organising travel (buying tickets, reserving rooms), chasing deliveries, checking inventories... the list is nearly endless across a wide range of jobs and trades.

        CAD is moving to browsers - quickly deployable to users, OS agnostic, modest client hardware requirements, centralised file management for team working, no local files to be stolen, extra processing power on tap. Offline working isn't desirable when other team members need to work to changes you have made and vice versa.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "Offline working isn't desirable when other team members need to work to changes you have made and vice versa."

          But what if you're OFFline more often than you're ON? Say you live in a not-zone?

        2. DropBear Silver badge

          I would not conflate the online freebie "gateway drug" CAD-lites used mostly by the 3D-printing "maker" crowd with the stuff serious work is being done on.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            The serious CAD vendors are looking at browser-accessed cloud systems. The ability for several engineers to work on the same documents is of more use to bigger firms than it is to the amateurs and hobbyists, as indeed are the security advantages and document control. Serious CAD was largely mainframe-based until the very late nineties so the above conventions are familiar, and what CAD applications that were on the desktop then were dismissed as being toys.

            There will of course be situations where CAD will be essential in areas of no internet, but for the large part engineers will get online - Bob can't design part B until Alex has finalised part A, so Alex has better connect to the company network as he is paid to.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Being able to work on the same data has nothing to do with the cloud, it' just a matter of application design, networks have been available far earlier than the cloud. Also CAD means often very sensitive IP, many companies would like to know where data are stored....

              CAD was not mainframe based, it was Unix workstation based.

  24. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Reminds me a little bit of ASUS's (apparently now dead) "PadFone". A smartphone with a fondleslab "skin". Some models also had a snap-on keyboard.

    The idea seemed good enough but at the time it cost almost as much as just buying a Nexus 5 and a Nexus 10, which, unlike the PadFone and its tablet dock, can be used independently and concurrently.

  25. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I liked this idea when Motorola brought out the Atrix phone in about 2011, surprised the idea hadn't been resurrected sooner.

    Still think the dock is a little expensive though for what is essentially just an USB OTG adapter with HDMI and ethernet interfaces. I am sure that these cost no more than about $20 to actually manufacturer. The specifications for this have been around for years with MHL - which Samsung used to support on their devices but now hardly any phones support.

    There is a list of which new phones do support MHL here although its a few month ago now so before the S8 was released.

    https://www.computersdealstore.com/list-of-all-2016-2017-phones-supporting-mhl-or-hdmi-output/

    The only difference is that the S8 looks to give you a different desktop interface rather than the standard Android and perhaps this is easy to use with a keyboard and mouse than standard Android which is a little clunky when not using it with a touch screen.

    Personally i would want a laptop style dock though -like the Atrix had - so i can sit on the sofa and work rather than a desk based dock

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I'd like all tablets to have the ability to be used as dumb monitors. Would be cute to extend a laptop's desktop onto a tablet.

      1. jbuk1

        I have an app on my iPad which does just that.

        It's called Duet display.

  26. David Tallboys

    They should give these things away as promo or charge a fiver.

    I have a Samsung Note 3 with a Samsung media device - about the size of a packet of cigs - that does pretty much this. I use it to plug in to 23 inch screens at a few of the places I regularly travel to. Power come from the same charger plug as the phone. So the marginal extra baggage is the packet of cigs device. I don't recommend taking a 23 inch screen on Ryanair.

    It works OK for web browsing, light spreadsheet/word processing email.

    But Samsung charged about 60 quid for it. Microsoft made the same mistake in my view about Continuum - they should just give the things away as it is hardly expensive to make. Instead I imagine someone thinks they can make a great margin by charging a hundred quid for a fivers worth of plastic and connectors. The result is low take up.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: They should give these things away as promo or charge a fiver.

      Sounds like you have a Miracast receiver. I have one of those, too, and have used it once in a while. Not perfect, but I keep it to leave my options open. It's nice that all my Samsung devices (S4, S5, Note 4) can use it. Bought mine used, so it only set me back $20.

  27. mcdone

    I've been waiting patiently for the day...

    The day my smart phone can replace my wallet, watch & keys. And become the only device I will ever need by transforming into a powerful computer. OK, admittedly we are still a few years off using our phone as a replacement debit/credit card, and very few homes and cars offer an app to replace your keys(yet), also for now the computer is not going to be as powerful or as well supported as a full-blown intel machine. But all the parts are here! I do hope other mobile manufacturers follow suit and eventually my (sad) sci-fi dream will become a reality.

    Although I cannot see Apple playing nicely, they already try to convince consumers they somehow need an expensive matching watch to go with their watch replacement smartphone therefore, an iPhone/iPad/MacBook product seems unlikely. It would also make very little business sense for them to do this.

    Why develop and sell only one truly revolutionary and life changing device when you can sell multiple devices or "parts" and then try to convince consumers they need all these devices to be truly happy. Throw in a much-hyped annual refresh for most of these “parts” ensuring all the current products are now ‘so last year’ and bingo! – the Apple business model. I am being slightly unfair as other tech companies are doing this too it is not just Apple. Hell, console makers have been doing this for years! (just every three years or so instead of an annual refresh).

    I fear greed and profit margins may be standing in the way of true advancements. I may be wrong, plus, as I mentioned earlier; we are still few years away from my dream.

    All the parts are now here, just need a little refinement and a company brave enough to follow Samsung’s lead here and the next revolution of the smartphone/device will have started.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019