The Samsung DeX Pad (Desktop eXperience) can turn its Galaxy S8/+, S9/+ and Note8/9 into a very passable desktop computer. That is replete with an large 2K screen, mouse and keyboard.
I reviewed DeX Station back in May 2017, and it was quite impressive then. Turning your smartphone into a desktop running Android apps is a great idea. As those apps include Microsoft Office and Outlook it is even better.
For a time I travelled (a lot) with a Logitech K840 HTPC keyboard and trackpad and connected to any convenient TV or monitor via HDMI out. I could do most things that I did on a Windows PC.
My review comments then included:
- “Microsoft Office support is brilliant.”
- “I am impressed, but I need to remind myself that it is Android, not Windows 10, that you are using.”
- ‘It is not a wallet breaker. Even if you use it as a dock just to play movies or as a lightweight PC then it is great’
- “It could be a gamechanger for pocket computing.”
Some things don’t change, so on with the review. GadgetGuy Val Quinn also announced it back in February.
Samsung DeX Pad Model EE-M5100 Price: $149
Australian website here.
The interface is a little more modern than the older DeX Station. I was able to test it with a Samsung Galaxy S9+ and a Note 8 (running Android 8.x).
The biggest difference is that the DeX Pad allows the smartphone screen use as a touchpad.
DeX Pad setup is easy
- Plug in the supplied Samsung Black Fast Charger (5V/2A, 9V/1.67A, 9V/2A, 12V/2.1A) via the USB-A to USB-C cable to the DeX Pad.
- Plug in the supplied HDMI cable to the DeX Pad and the other end to a TV or monitor. We tried it with both a 4K TV (this was upscaled) and FHD 27” monitor (supports monitors to 2K, 2560 x 1440). It will also work with HDMI dongles to data projectors. It won’t support dual screens.
- Attach a USB keyboard and mouse to the two USB 2.0 ports. Or use a Logitech USB Unifying receiver and combo keyboard and trackpad – leaving one USB free. You can also use most Bluetooth keyboard and mice.
- Slide your phone into the USB-C port on the DeX Pad. It is big enough to work with most phone cases too.
- The phone screen acts as a two-finger gesture trackpad. A future software update will allow keyboard use eliminating the need to carry one.
The phone immediately senses the DeX Pad
Up comes a full desktop screen looking suspiciously like a Windows screen. This is not Android but a full 16:9 landscape experience. You can switch between Android and Desktop mode.
For starters, apps open in separate windows, and you can resize them to fit several on a screen. Native Samsung and Google apps all worked well. Some apps refused to display more than a ‘phone-sized’ screen.
The performance was excellent. There was occasional cursor lag, but Galaxy class devices have top-of-the-range processors and RAM.
Connection to a D-Link AC5300 router was at 867Mbps. Everything from a WD My Cloud server was available via its IP address. Opening, copying and manipulating files was not far off gigabit ethernet speeds.
DeX Pad allows virtualised Windows desktops and apps
It can use enterprise-ready VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) solutions from cloud-based ecosystems including Citrix, VMware and Amazon. This might be the answer for road warriors. It is cool to see a full Windows 10 desktop running off an Android handset – if you are into that kind of thing. RDP support is standard as well.