'WIMP = “Windows, icons, mouse, pointer” in case you’ve forgotten or are too young to know better'
—surely? Mouse and Pointer is duplication.
I’m typing this story on a phone – a Galaxy S9+ to be precise, lodged in Samsung’s new “DeX Pad” not-a-dock that turns its high-end handsets into passable desktops when connected to a monitor or tellie over HDMI. Samsung introduced the Dex with 2017’s Galaxy S8 and then updated it this year with a smaller dock that puts the …
Although I think Menu is probably the original out of Xerox, back in the day we always knew it as Mouse. That's not a duplication of Pointer since we had various forms of pointer before the mouse to move them*.
*Including a horrendously large graphics terminal that used two wheels to move a cross-hair cursor, a bit like a giant Etch-A-Sketch. It even needed wiping and refreshing periodically.
tek4010 had a relatively small screen (~11" diagonal IIRC), so I would not call that "horrendously large", although it was normally set on it's on floor-standing pedestal. It's more capable cousin, the 4014 was larger.
It was a storage scope, so the screen 'remembered' what had been drawn without the screen processor redrawing it (unlike on a raster CRT monitor, which has continually to repaint the screen). Over the course of a minute or two, the image started to degrade, and the image could not be scrolled. You had to clear the screen and draw the next one.
I used to use it to do work in APL, as it could draw all of the over-struck greek characters, and I actually wrote a 4010 graphics emulator (it was a very simple protocol) in BBC basic, which was fast enough to keep up on a 9600 baud serial link.
UNIX troff (a text formatter) had a post-processor that would allow di-troff output to be drawn on the screen of a 4014 for proof reading before the days of high definition terminal screens. I believe it's still there in groff in GNU/Linux, even it's not needed anymore.
Ditroff was a complete re-write of troff. Troff was tightly, and very cleverly, written but could only output to one very specific typesetter (CAT). When UC Berkeley set out to replace their CAT phototypesetters (they had two of them), the original troff programmer was dead and no one could figure out how to remove the device dependencies, so they wrote Device Independent Troff so that they could use their new--APS5 -phototypesetter.
The APS had to go into production earlier than planned because an operator on the CAT, failed to tighten the wingnut holding the glass font wheel and that CAT was suddenly full of very small glass shards.
I mentioned DEX to a friend and he said it sounded great for his shed - for office tasks, web browsing and watching video. Many of us here have an older but still but serviceable monitor, mouse and keyboard kicking around the house. DEX works with 3rd party docks for around £20, I've heard - I'm sure someone here with post a comment confirming that in a bit.
Problem with older monitors is they don't tend to have HMDI.
I had a Lumia 950 XL - did the same as DEX, but with Windows Phone. I have the unopened converter box (freebie) in a cupboard. Always seemed like a good idea except for the lack of support for anything other then HDMI.
Hopeless as a portable solution too - by the time you carried all the necessary cables, it was easier to just carry a small laptop.
And Dex isn't just about Android, is it?
Ubuntu and Eclipse. That could be perfect for a developer, web designer, etc. on the move as well as one who needs to test their results on mobile.
And the price is reasonable, much more than I would expect to be honest, but I can't afford the Samsung phone to go with it, so maybe that's why.
But I think I'd quite happily consider running Ubuntu off my phone as an emergency/portable desktop, if I was a salesman, developer, IT contractor, etc. Much more so than an iPad. Hell, I'd do it and just keep the Dex bit on me for the "just-in-case" of needing a laptop and not having one, or a presentation (plug phone into Dex into HDMI projector). You can also get a mini-projector for peanuts nowadays. You could have a full Linux desktop setup on an airplane seat with things that you can slip into your pocket.
It seems to me to have a lot of uses, it's just a shame that the phones to do it are so expensive (and even my old S4 Mini / S5 Mini could probably be a serviceable desktop with the right OS).
More or less. Unity was an attempt to have the UI component of applications / apps so written that they would adjust to the display size and Human Input methods present at the time - I believe it started out during the netbook era ( 7" - 10" screens, mouse, keyboard).
Samsung only need to have a few key apps ( Pareto analysis, we use 20% of apps 80% of the time) such as browser and Office to adjust to big display mouse keyboard tlfor this to be viable for some users.
A few years back Apple took a different route: rather than plug your phone into a display you could continue working on the same document across iOS and OSX, with the document (and where in the document you were currently working) being zapped between phone and Mac over WiFi. However, the popularity of iOS over MacOS means that Apple are now giving developers tools and guidelines so that an iOS app can potentially present a decent user interface when run on a Mac.
I stated a few years back that my personal opinion about Ubunto and DeX (and whatever Microsoft called their efforts) like solutions was that by the time you've found a spare monitor, mouse, keyboard and carried cables around, you might as well carry a little headless ARM PC with you. After all, they're not pricey, give you reduncy should you lose your phone, and don't tie up your phone in cables (so you can telephone a colleague whilst looking at a spreadsheet).
by the time you've found a spare monitor, mouse, keyboard and carried cables around,
You're assuming a truly portable situation - clearly something like a laptop/netbook/ultrabook is still better for the occasions where you might need a screen and keyboard in a convenient bundle anywhere.
I think most people, most of the time, are only using full desktop mode in a few predictable locations a lot of the time home - office, in between these locations, a smartphone style access might be acceptable.
KDE are prepping for adjustable display-size apps with Kirigami as well.
Thing is, for modular computing to work, you need the monitor, keyboard and mouse in your transport and at your destination, else you may as well pack a laptop or Chromebook. If car, airplane and train seat backs had a built in HDMI/USB-C/TB3 ready 14" or so display and a pop out full size keyboard, Bob's your trans auntie, you're sorted and can travel light. I pack a Note 8 and it would be great if it was the ONLY device I had to carry with me, but alas, I need a keyboard and larger screen pretty much anywhere I sit down, so I keep one of these in my backpack...
(The machine Apple should have made.)
...that when back at desk, is docked with my 4K 32" monitor via one of these...
If Samsung can get transport companies and hotels to build screens and keyboards into seats, hotel rooms and coffee shop tables, then DeX will work, but you won't need the dock really, just plug the phone into the USB-C port. (MHL used to allow you to do that, I could plug my Note 4 and S5 into HDMI monitors directly.)
The Gemini can run Linux, so potentially more broadly useful - however, if you're running it in Android mode you have to restart it into Linux. The Register said that Libre Office worked okay on the Gemini, but there was a bit of input lag - though they did note that they were using an early model and drivers.
I don't know if you can get the DeX optimised versions of MS Office for the Gemini's Android mode.
If I were to get a Gemini, it would be an accompaniment to my existing smartphone, not a replacement ( so it might likely stay in Linux mode all the time).
If I were to get a Gemini, it would be an accompaniment to my existing smartphone, not a replacement ( so it might likely stay in Linux mode all the time).
I have one and that's precisely how it feels at its best and how I use it permanently. I've squeezed down the Android partition to minimum and it stays in Sailfish. MY fingers are crossed that when Sailfish 3 appears for Gemini at the end of 2018 I will be able to get rid of the Android partition completely.
Once this makes its way onto lower end devices then isn't there a place for it in a world where people can't afford a phone and a PC? Might be a viable like that in corporate environments as well. Just give everyone a smartphone and set some hot desks up with these docks.
Vast numbers of users just need telecoms, a browser (for their business apps), email and office. Could knock a significant percentage off corporate IT budgets.
it wont replace because most of the apps wont work properly. I played with DEX on an s8 and it is a gimmick. most wont resize and look stupid in a tiny window on a large screen. The was an issue accessing non secure SD cards too. DEX is very niche and whilst the principle is sound you can carry an intel NUC around (the same size as the DEX dock) that will run full fat linux/windows and be far more powerful.
it will also be cheaper (and more flexible) to get a huawei plus NUC than s9 and DEX
Define a standard interface for Android docking, integrate some things with Chrome and google apps, use these things to create a combination phone/computer office workstation against a price point that is impossible to beat, so companies can save substantial money when migrating away from MS/Azure.
The equipment will be standard, like x86 PC's, be produced by many against an economic price.
As a side-effect, millenials are used to to everything with their phone, making it a future proof solution.
It isn’t innovative to try to invent one device that does everything. It’s stupid*. I wouldn’t want my car to double up as my bicycle or an aeroplane, and I wouldn’t want a bed which doubled up as a bath and a dining table. Sometimes it’s okay to have more than one thing, if your things perform different functions.
You know the old aphorism - Jack of all trades, Master of none.
* In the interests of total disclosure, I also thought that the iPod was stupid, that screens with resolutions greater than 640*480 were unnecessary, that the GUI itself was stupid, HD video unworkable and that tablets wouldn’t go anywhere. I might not be the best judge of what will succeed and what won’t in the computer of the future.
Honestly? No. I like having a really good car, one that I can enjoy driving (as opposed to the sort of gadget that drives you around until it crashes - and then it crashes), and I’d like to have a really good aeroplane (but whilst I can afford the former, I can’t afford the latter).
Flying cars, or roadable aeroplanes, are compromised in either environment.
Perhaps I’m unwise, but I’m also uncompromising.
"I wouldn’t want my car to double up as my bicycle"
This analogy is the wrong way round, if the car is the PC and the bicycle is the mobile. And people do add trailers, extra seats etc. to their bicycles sometimes to get a subset of the functionality of a car.
"or an aeroplane,"
If my car could cut out the pain of common air travel as it is, I would be more than happy.
"and I wouldn’t want a bed which doubled up as a bath and a dining table."
You've never owned a camper van then.
You might not want this in your house, just as in your house you are happy to have a laptop/desktop, tablet, phone etc. for different things. But I think the target here is like the camper van, travelling. Not having to cart around a car and a house.
"* In the interests of total disclosure, I also thought that the iPod was stupid, that screens with resolutions greater than 640*480 were unnecessary, that the GUI itself was stupid, HD video unworkable and that tablets wouldn’t go anywhere."
... and 640k RAM ought to be enough for anyone, right?
"I might not be the best judge of what will succeed and what won’t in the computer of the future."
Hi Bill. Welcome to the Reg.
It appears that Rolls Royce and Aston Martin say they agree with you:
Farnborough Airshow: Aston Martin unveils sports car for the skies
Carl Bourne, Rolls-Royce's strategy and business development head, said the consortium rejected plans to build a flying car. "You'd end up with a bad aircraft, and a bad car."
Then they seem to partially recant:
The aircraft would, he said, "be a sports car for the skies".
"I wouldn’t want a bed which doubled up as a bath and a dining table."
I guess you have never lived in a caravan, or even the tiny houses that are becoming popular. Where a bed that converts into a dining table is a great idea. Coz you don't usually use both at the same time, and you don't have enough space for both bits of furniture.
West Yorks Police seem to be finding a use for it - have been following https://twitter.com/WYP_IanWIlliams and there's a lot of good stuff going on to stop officers spending quite so long on paperwork / in the office. Options for using the phone when out and about then popping it into a docking station when in a car or back at the station.
... just install termux with the ssh server and you only need a random PC to log into it.
There's a talk about it from a rather weird person using that day to day
It works, but I personally wouldn't put anything personal onto a mobile phone. It's just by orders of magnitude to risky.
I thought that I would add this little review. I have been using Dex as my main work machine for a few months now (4) and tbh I love it.
The ability to have the phone, complete with text messages, etc... at my finger tips is amazing. The Office apps with OneDrive integration works really well. The samsung mail client to Exchange has a lot of features including bullet points, colours, tabs etc... allowing me to write email that the Outlook or Gmail app simply can not do. The clincher here, it integrates the main callender which means that I can see personal and work in 1 - amaze balls!
Now, the bad, but to stress this is not the bad with the concept or the implementation more the ways apps run....
Google sheets is terrible. It's a scale up of the smaller screen - horrible!
Map browsing is challenging unless you have multitouch pad (either screen or logitech T650 works well)
Onenote is limited
Phone calls - either speaker or headset. Never had an issue going in and out of dock during calls (normal, skype etc...)
Now more good - Start up time - F*** fast. Stability - yes, functions yes. Constant improvements with patching - yes.
Samsung introduced the Dex with 2017’s Galaxy S8 and then updated it this year with a smaller dock that puts the phone in a horizontal position and turns it into a touchpad. That’s an important trick because as a portable device, the DeX Pad is a wash: you need a USB charger, a keyboard and an HDMI cable to get it working. Samsung recommends that you use only its supplied HDMI cable too, so that needs to go into your bag too, making a rat’s nest of cables even before you add a mouse to the mix.
Obviously the solution is a laptop-style "shell" with a keyboard, a built-in display and some useful ports on the back (USB, HDMI, Ethernet, etc). Put a big ass battery in it to recharge your phone and power the display then leave a slot in the front for the phone to dock where the trackpad would normally be. Then you can plug the phone in when you need a proper keyboard or a bigger screen, then pop it out when you don't.
Only problem I can see is that smartphones vary wildly in size and shape so you'd have to come up with a standard or make some kind of sabot for each model...
Surely you could imagine an office with a hotelling seating arrangement and these docks hooked up at every seat. The employees could be issues phones and simply dock in at any seat in the office to do their work.
Saves having to issue both a laptop and phone, and for a sales organization with a cloud based CRM/Quote solution, there would be little need for a laptop.
The problem is that no one actually fully uses SaaS and modern business practices, so I suspect they would need other apps too that won't quite work on the phone for an average user.
Love the concept, horrible work environment. Back to Dex , I use a similar approach here with my Android 6.01 tablets , one of which has a dead touch sensor. Plug in charger cable, mini HDMI and USB 3.0 hub. (Fusion5 108T and 108 in case anyone is interested.) It just works. I already have all that gear as I've been doing this with the laptop, although it is full HDMI so thinking about KVM box lately. The rhe real fly-in-the-ointment is dealing with NTFS drives of the USB 3.0 sort. I'm not happy with the Paragon apps at all.
For on the road, toss mini HDMI cable, 22,600 mAH battery, Bluetooth keyboard and mouse into my bag and off I go. The cable is the only thing added. I was impressed that the only requirement was adding one cable to the mix with these two really cheap tablets. I'm kicking the tires on Termux right now looking for field OS that's a bit more capable in than Android 6.0.
[I do not have a phone of the "smart" variety, nor a desire to spend heaps of money to buy one and fork out money to telecom oligarchies.]
I've got a Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and I've played with the inbuilt desktop function using a USB Type-C dock - while the basic functionality is adequate for simple use (email, calendar, web browsing, light document editing), it suffers from similar limitations as Dex, mainly apps that think they're still on a mobile phone. The big advantage compared to Dex is that the USB Type-C dock is much smaller to carry.
But frankly, if I'm going to have to carry a bluetooth keyboard, HDMI cable, USB dock and mouse around to be able to do any productive work, it's just easier to just carry a tablet and keyboard instead. And to be truly mobile - anywhere - then you really can't beat a laptop.
Just my 2c :-)
..with the DroidX and their "Atrix" desktop. It never caught on. While there was a dock for the phone I think, I had a DroidX and a suitable cable, and with just plugging the cable into the phone and an HDMI input, you had a couple of options--mirroring the phone display or using it as a "desktop". I will say that the desktop option wasn't bad--the whole phone became a touchpad and apps like the web browser suddenly had usable tabs. Other apps reformatted for the bigger screen too. I'm sure the dock had USB ports for a keyboard, etc. but I never laid eyes on one. I never used it for productivity, but it was good for web surfing and watching videos. And at the time, surprising Apple fanbois with what the little Droid could do.
My personal feelings on why it never caught on was the need for accessories bringing the price into the range of cheaper netbooks, and the lack of proper marketing. Also, the Android platform not being seen as a platform for productivity apps at the time, especially ones that would interoperate with MS Office, which love or hate it, has become the world standard.. (Apple really has the same problem)
Not the first attempt at such things and certainly won't be the last.
I remember a company we supported back in about 2010 insisting on BlackBerry devices so they could issue Redflys to their sales droids. Link below for those who don't remember or have never seen a Redfly. Could probably say the same about BlackBerry for some of our younger readers too...
Regular Note 8/Dex user here. I've had great success with this combo at work. HDMI to DVI cable for my ancient Dell 24" monitor. USB3 hub works flawlessly and amazingly even my USB ethernet adapter works. I do however use AWS Workspaces in lieu of a real desktop. Workspaces has a Dex compatible client so I can do real work in a Windows environment.
I've got the Windows Phone equivalent.
It's a pretty nice solution with a beautiful docking station.
However, I've used it less than expected, because it's incredibly rare that I don't bring along either a laptop or a tablet.
I could see such solutions being useful if docking stations were kind of universal, and hotels & Regus offered rooms with docking & wireless keyboard, with the guest only having to bring his phone. I don't think it'll ever happen though.
I can dock my Motorola Moto Z to my KVM, or any handy keyboard / monitor / mouse. Using the Moto Mod development kit with a hacked up version of the kits firmware, and two small USB adapters (USB C to HDMI and USB C OTG). Motorola offer their development kit firmware as open source. The development kit is just another Moto Mod, it clips on the back of the phone. I intend to install Devuan Linux on this phone in the near future.
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